Wednesday, April 16, 2014

STRESS TEST...



 
 

Isn't it appropriate that the month of the tax
begins with April Fool's Day
and ends with cries of 'May Day'?
Rob Knauerhase
 
I've heard it said two things in life are certain; death and taxes.  Sounds logical...the tax deadline for filing was the 15th...Tuesday...extensions are out there, among other things. 
 
We've used the same 'tax person' for years; each year his complaint list is longer and louder.  His name?  Michael...he's my calm, peaceful husband until?  Tax time.  I really thought he was going to 'lose it' this time around...why does the government make it so complicated for simple minded people who don't have much to file for?  Go figure...right, go figure a lot...all about figures/numbers anyway!  Besides Federal we also must file w/Oklahoma...which gets screwier each year! 
 
An army colonel wrote today that he finished his taxes yesterday, tried to e-file and IRS refused it...stating it had already been filed.  He's heard from others the same thing happened to them...someone else has filed on their Social Security numbers.   Are Lois Lerner and the IRS people moonlighting?  Nothing would be surprising...it's a total mess! 
 
Well, that...along with a myriad of other things...would cause even zebra's to lose their stripes and it's possibly stress related.  Good thing we, the people, don't have striped bodies or we'd really be 'streaking', right?
 
It's Spring, taxes are filed and packed away for another year (hopefully there will be no audit);                                                           Michael is potting red geraniums (our favorites)...the house is clean (just don't look in drawers or closets)...but I've really been on edge!  Whether it's the wind...I don't do well in wind...or simply a cycle I'm in; what matters is my thought process, my emotions have been like a whirling Dervish lately. 
 
Oh boy, by this time you're thinking "she really needs psychiatric help' but things are better today.  I'm really not a fruitcake...honestly, I'm not.  Don't you know that storms just happen in life?  Some small, some whoppers; most of us have our share, right?  Of course we do...all of us.     
 
Have a look at this next picture; this is one of the most awesome pictures I've seen of a tornado cloud...oooh, it's really scary, right?  We lived just a few miles from here for ten years and saw lots of dark, grey clouds & funnels but nothing like this; looks like a UFO hovering over the land. 

Michael thinks it resembles something from the scriptures;
like Christ coming in a cloud.  Along that line, I've begun concentrating more on what the world is thinking of these days...that would be the resurrection of Christ. 
Picture Courtesy of Meteorologist Lacy Swope
Taken at Wilson, Oklahoma April 2014 
 
Easter Sunday is just a few days away and there's much to process...actually we've been studying and talking about this for some weeks...and today...today, I finally have my priorities, my thinking in sensible order along with clearing the storm clouds out of my heart, my life.
 
I, Vasca...have been blest beyond my wildest imaginations!
I have nothing...absolutely nothing to complain about...
I have a home that I so enjoy...
I have a partner that loves me unconditionally...
I have a family that is full of God's goodness...
I have a church family; a bevy of friends who support me...where can I stop?
My list is endless...I have been and continue to be blest by?
 
A Father...an awesomely...most magnificent Father who loves me unconditionally; who is always there for me.......
No matter what?  Yes, no matter what.
 
It's almost inconceivable that He gave of himself to die for me...insignificant me...so that I could live with Him forever.  The thing is, I'm not insignificant to Him...I'm special...so are you!
 
You're probably a much more 'settled' individual that me...I hope so.  I've been high; I've been low...I've done foolish things in my life but guess what?  He doesn't remember!
 
"No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him."
I Corinthians 2:9 (The Message)
 
So?  While I've been taxed lately...it's over and done with; I know that all's well and all will be well because I love him, He loves me and...He has the key to my heart.  That's so good...a peaceful calm after the storm...thank you!
From my heart...as always...to yours,
Vasca


Thursday, April 10, 2014

CALLING ME?


YOU'RE GOING TO CALL ME WHAT?

 
If I had been born talking I think my first sentence might have been...
'You're going to call me what?' 
 
Mother was 20 years old when I was born and she loved romantic novels; that's where she ran across a name she liked for me...it really was a defense mechanism on her part.  You see, my dad wanted to name me Betty Lou...mother wanted no part of that since it was the name of one of his former girlfriends...can't blame her for that, I might have done the same thing.  She won but she wisely allowed my dad to use Lou for my middle name.  When Michael really wants to 'get my goat' he uses 'Vasca Lou'...grrr!
 
It's nice that mother won out on nixing the name 'Betty' because one of M's former girlfriends was also a Betty...oops! 
 
For a long time I really didn't care for my name 'cause the response was always, HUH?  Yep, it's unusual but it grew on me.  I pronounce it slowly and distinctively when introducing myself to newbies...also tell them to just think of  'Alaska' which helps until someone forgets and calls me Alaska next time around. 
 
I'm the oldest of five Smith children...thankfully I was first...mother named my siblings Jane, Don, Ron and John (and John married Mary).  What a switch, yes?  
 
Married life came and I was surrounded by males for a long time...boy genes are rampant w/the Beall's.  On top of that even our dogs have all been males.  Before we entered military life we lived here: and we had a large yard which Michael took advantage of. 
                                                                                            We had NO extra money so he (behind my back) obtained two pointer's for hunting partners...doesn't every man need hunting dogs if they hunt?  Okay, he built them a lovely chain-link pen in our backyard...those two dogs were very contented.  I was not a happy camper over what I considered a large/foolish expense involved...oh well.  When you've no extra?  Anything can be formidable, right?                   
Incidentally, I am NOT the boss person in our home...I like the way Rita Radner put it: "When I eventually met Mr. Right I didn't know his first name was Always." Get it?  Always Right?   Wonder what it's like at your house...is he always right? 
 
Back to the dog fence...having a somewhat guilty conscience (wonder why) he graciously allowed me to name the two dogs;  Bill Cosby said, "Always end the name of your child in a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry."  Okay, I was a busy wife and mom...had no time to read about Bill Cosby so none of our boys names end in a vowel.  Nor did I use that criteria when I named the dogs Pat and Mike...was I being vindictive?  Hmm.
 
Of course M asked why in the world did I name one of them after him..."Sweetheart, I named him that so I could yell at him any time I wanted, especially when I was exasperated w/you!"
Pat and Mike
 
Time to change gears...while this post is factual it's a tad 'tongue in cheek' about names but names are important.   I knew a young girl named Jezebel.  Last week I met a Jesus.
 
To me, the most important issue is what's inside the person with the name.  I like this quote from The Message: "A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank." Proverbs 22:1
 
There's much rabble rousing these days about Christians, Muslim, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, Liberals, Conservatives, Agnostics...people in and out of authority...lots of 'name calling'.  Not really a nice way to behave but society has changed...some for the better, some for the worse.  Who's to say?  Well, it all depends on whose side you're on.  What ever happened to the sterling reputations, the gracious spirits anyway? 
 
I like the name 'Christian'...and I pray that I have a sterling reputation...one of integrity.  Like the proverb says, "it's better than money in the bank"...banks don't pay much interest these days so that's a bummer. 
 
What's really in a name anyway?  To me what matters is when my name is mentioned something good comes to mind.  I want our children to be proud of their name...remember where and who it came from.  It doesn't always happen that way with people...some are ashamed of their names...ashamed of their heritage. 
 
One of my great grandfathers lived a dual life; meaning he had two families that he kept secret from each other.  Michael learned later in his life that his grandmother was not his grandfathers first wife...and that was when 'divorce' was a really big no-no. 
 
Family backgrounds are from one end of the spectrum to the other...always have been...guess they always will be...history is known to repeat itself.
 
There's a saying that goes something like this..."working for God doesn't pay much but the retirement plan is out of this world".  All depends on what is identified as 'pay'...my heart has one key and God has it; how could I be any other way but totally happy with my life. 
 
I feel assured, contented and at peace!  He has me covered and you know what else?  He loves me as if I were His only child and I think He loves my name, so do I. 
 
Hmm, I wonder if I'm His only Vasca child.  You think? 
 
From my heart...to yours!
Vasca

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WOOF...WOOF...

 
"There is no sense in doing a lot of barking if you really have nothing to say."
Thank you Charles Schultz
Woodstock and Peanuts
 
 
                

                                                    
                     






Barking aka complaining has been around almost forever...at least that's what I'm thinking.
 
Adam complained that it was Eve's fault they bit the fruit; Eve complained it was that 'evil one'...the serpent.  That got them nowhere and they were evicted without further ado. 
 
Moving right along there's much barking now over the movie 'Noah'.  Wow, Russell Crowe had quite a different experience than the original Noah.  Hollywood has some kind of trouble getting their stories to jibe, right?  Oh well, after all it is the movies!
 
Good grief...look at all the wonderful things God did for the children of Israel; from the get-go He took care of them and they yammered and complained about any and everything.  I feel sure you know about many of those incidents.
 
Marching on with the Israelites; they complained when they were enslaved in Egypt so God arranged to get them out.  The Egyptian army followed close on their heels and everyone was quite nervous...just imagine!  Up to water they couldn't cross w/the army behind...what to do?  God took care of them again and voila!  Parted the waters and walk through on dry land was really neat...especially when the waters closed and took care of the Egyptians! 
 
You'd think the people would've quickly connected the dots...not so!  Right...onward with the complaining and the history of mankind.  Somehow we can't escape it...think about it for a bit.  In life things can be going along, smooth as silk...everyone is so happy...at last we've reached a point where we can mentally and physically 'stretch our wings' so to speak.  Time to shift to other things now that the groundwork, the foundation has been laid.
 
Oops, wait a minute.  There's a little rumble in the background...did you feel it...did you hear it?  What's going on...things are supposed to be peaceful, right?  Not yet 'Smarty'...just hold your horses.
 
I just read about a news journalist who was covering a bit of war in a foreign country...and she's on television.  Guess what?  People (viewers) complained they didn't like her hair...WHAT?  Risking her life and people don't think her hair looks good?  Oh...bark...bark...bark.
 
 
 
You dislike washing dishes?  Man, woman or child...do you or don't you?  Okay, so you can take it or leave it.  I had automatic dishwashers for years...until we moved overseas.  They weren't exactly the 'in' thing to have and I didn't mind handwashing  dishes...admittedly I looked forward to being back in the States.  Time to get rid of those dishpan hands.
 
After moving home from China I found myself still hand washing our dishes...rather than complaining I graciously implemented a super idea.  Michael is a super dishwasher...we butter each other up...one washes, the other dries. 
Ah, sweet progress.
 
Shifting gears a little...last week in the grocery store I saw the cutest kid...probably a pre-teen; he had dark hair and the brightest, sparkling dark eyes.  He was as bouncy as a beach ball.  The second time I saw him he was tagging along behind his mom (at least I tho't she was his mom) still bouncing and ecstatically happy.  Swinging his arms and doing a cute dance while singing 'Happy' very beautifully.  I couldn't help smiling while watching and listening to him.  Over and over he sang about how happy he was...
oh boy, a happy fella'.
 
On the other hand his mom looked anything but happy...and she paid no attention to him at all.  At first I thought 'why isn't she happy like her son'...and then I changed my thinking.  I realized she may have been totally exhausted and would probably welcome a bit or perhaps a lot of quiet time.  Her son was Down Syndrome.  I pray for her to have some happy times, happy days...like her sweet boy.  There was no complaining.
 
There are special areas in some stores...Complaint Departments.  M and I have been business owners and we know the importance of  'the customer is always right'.  While some people are difficult to handle...in business you need lots and lots of diplomacy.  Smile and take your lumps.
 
I wonder if many churches have 'complaint boxes'...you think?  If you had to sign your complaint that might prevent some from filling the boxes...but there are those who thrive on complaining...a way of life.  You suppose there divisions like we have in politics...Democratic, Republican, Independent, Tea Party...Barkers?
 
And then we have the generation gaps...no way I can put it as well as Woodstock, Snoopy & Charles Schultz.
 
 
 
 
I was raised in a large family; Michael and I raised four sons along w/many of their friends.  We've worked with college students in Norman...Chinese students in Qingdao...lots and lots of young people.  The age gap has actually never bothered us and personally I always felt young.  Now?  Okay, I'm old but young at heart and in  many ways that helps overcome the physical part of aging.  I want to always appreciate and accept others for who and what they are...overcoming any barrier.
 
It helps not to complain...what if every time you approached me I hit you with my barks...woof, woof?  It wouldn't be long before you might avoid me...what, avoid me?  Yes, mam!  I'll get the message.
 
I've participated in discussions concerning criticism.  Some say constructive criticism is healthy and others say there's no such thing as constructive criticism...its all destructive.  That's grist for another day...the different ways and means of criticism.
 
I complain...not often, but I do!  But lately I've become more aware...hearing barking...and I don't want to be like that.  What to do then?  For starters I read this quote from Katrina Mayer and I thought it made sense:
 
"Go 24 hours without complaining (Not even once.) 
Then watch how your life starts changing."
 
Bingo...I am entering into the 24 hour period...I will not bark or complain...not even once.!
I want my life to change...for the better!  If I want that, I must plan for it...right?  Oh yes!
 
From my heart...to yours,
Vasca