Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is your gift?

What is your gift?

I'm not asking about the new necklace someone gave you, or the set of pretty dishes you received for your birthday. I want to know what your gift is from God.

I'm leading a Bible study by John Ortberg, "If You Want To Walk On Water You've Got To Get Out Of The Boat."

Our lesson Sunday night was about recognizing our gifts. The Bible talks about God's gift to each of us - some have the gift to preach, others to teach, while others may have the gift of leadership. In some way, each of us has at least one God-given gift.

One person felt her gift was having a positive attitude, to turn around bad things to something positive. What a gift, not only for herself but those around her!

Two others had been teachers, using their God-given gift to help children learn. One said she also felt writing was her gift, and another liked to create by sewing and making beautiful afghans.

Our God-given gift isn't something that arrives one day all neatly packaged in a pretty box with a bright bow that we can open and instantly possess. Instead, our God-given gift begins to surface in our childhood, then it buds during our school years. As we study and work to hone that gift, it blossoms as we grow older. As long as we live, we are developing God's gift to us.

So, I ask again, what is your God-given gift?

Perhaps as important as answering that question is another question: What will you do with your God-given gift?

Are you willing to "step out of the boat" and accept the challenge of using God's gift to you?

Step out in faith and use your God-given talent. It will not be used up but will multiply and develop a patina, growing more beautiful every day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

That's supposed to make ME feel better?

The other day I saw an advertisement on TV for an attorney's firm.

People were holding up signs, smiling broadly and saying, "We owed the government $3 million back taxes and we only paid $1 million" and "We owed back taxes in the amount of $100,000 and we only paid $8,000."

Of course the law firm's representatives are smiling broadly, too. Why not? They probably made a nice chunk of change from "saving" those folks all that money.

So, when I get my tax bill, if I owe $500, I can just send the government $125, right? I don't think so!

Maybe I'm missing something here, but somehow those folks feeling so proud of themselves for cheating the government out of all that money just doesn't make me feel one bit happy at all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leo needs a home too!

Leo is one sleek, fat cat. He is neutered and is waiting at the North Platte Animal Shelter for someone to give him a new home.

Moonie needs a home

Moonie is 5 years old, neutered and can be indoors or outdoors.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, Moonie went to the North Platte Animal Shelter and is awaiting adoption.

Doggone it! Spay and neuter your pets

I've been involved in a couple sad situations today and it makes me a mixture of mad and sad.

Two families are having to give up ownership of their cats. Not because they want to, but because they have to do so.

The one family had two cats that were indoor/outdoor cats. Then they moved and the cats had to become indoor cats because of the high traffic around their house. Then a baby came into the home. All of this had to be very stressful to these cats. When it's a matter of your child's allergies or your cats, then of course the cats have to go. I've been there, done that.

The other family has four cats and is moving into an apartment that does not allow pets. Sami, the gray cat, is 15 years old. He should be at the place in his life where he can live out the rest of his years with loved ones and being loved and pampered.
The sisters are Cuddles, the dark gray and orange cat, and Coco, whose picture wouldn't save for some reason. It would be nice if they could be kept together.
Chester is the 'fat cat.' Isn't he a docile and beautiful cat?
I'm not upset with these two families. They have been responsible pet owners and had their pets spayed and neutered. They have given them love and good care.

The problem is, I'm trying to help them find new homes for their beloved pets and the shelters and humane societies are filled to the brim with small kittens.

We can't do anything about the cats and dogs already in this world, but we can make sure the overpopulation stops with what is already here.

There are programs that will help you spay or neuter your pet if you can't afford it. Please stop the suffering right here, right now. Help us take care of the pets that are already here.

A year ago maybe you didn't know better. Maybe you didn't know there were programs to help you spay or neuter your cats and dogs. But today you do know and you have the power to stop the problem.

If you need financial help, please ask your veterinarian to refer you today to a group that can help you do the right thing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What would you do?

Monday morning, after nearly being eaten alive by the flipping recliner (see below), and finally realizing I would live to see another day, I decided to test my four sons.

To begin, I have to tell you that although I don't smoke I have hundreds of ashtrays stashed in my basement. About 10 or 12 years ago I decided to start collecting ashtrays because, I figured, some day smoking was going to be outlawed except in your own home.

Everyone in the family thought I was nuts -- and still think so. It's a running joke in the family as to who will be burdened with unloading those darned ashtrays after I'm dead.

So this is what I wrote to my four boys:

* * * * *

I need each of you to answer a question.

I call you to come to my house to help me. You walk in and find me in my recliner tipped backward. I am stuck tight and can't move in any direction.

Would you:

A. Fall on the floor and laugh hysterically for 10 minutes?

B. Go back home to get your camera so you could have a picture to show everyone?

C. Rush in immediately, set my chair upright and stick around for a while to be sure I was OK?

Remember, how you answer this question may determine who gets my ashtray collection.

* * * * *

Bryan, No. 1 son, calls me shortly after I sent out the e-mail.

"I would help you get up and make sure you were OK," Bryan said.

Good kid. I raised him right.

Brett, son No. 4, said he would immediately take a picture with his cell phone and then help me up.

OK, that's not too bad, another few seconds in the jaws of the recliner could be tolerated if he was going to use his cell phone.

Blair, son No. 3, said, "I would take a photo with my cell phone and then fall on the floor and laugh hysterically for 10 minutes."

"Well, Blair, as of now you have won the ashtray collection."

"You mean I had the best answer?" he asked.

"No, so far you've had the worst answer."

There was silence.

"It just dawned on me," Blair said, with a touch of disgust, "I get the ashtrays, don't I?"

"Yes, Blair, you get the ashtrays. What I failed to tell all of you was that the ashtray collection was the booby prize."

However, this was Blair's lucky day. I hadn't heard from son No. 2 yet.

Bruce, No. 2 son, called and surprised me by saying, "I would grab the ashtrays and run while you couldn't stop me. They might be worth something in a hundred years or so."

Congratulations, Bruce. I'm not sure where you'll store the ashtrays, but I'm going to start boxing them up right away.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'Tain't Funny McGee!

Sunday, Sept. 13, about 9:30 p.m., my life flashed before my eyes.

I fixed a tuna salad sandwich and went to the living room to my recliner to eat my sandwich and watch a TV show.

I held my plate in my left hand and as I always do when I'm going to eat and watch TV, I sat down tucking my left leg under me. Don't know why I do that, I just do. But only when I'm going to eat while sitting in my recliner.

The recliner has been with me a good number of years - probably 15 years or so. I not only sit in it to watch TV, but I spend a lot of hours sleeping and napping in that chair, too.

I remember when I picked that chair out. I went to the furniture store and found the chairs I liked and I spent a whole afternoon going from chair to chair, trying them out. Let me give you a tip on picking out chairs: Even though the chairs may look identical, they do not all "sit" the same. Since I knew I would be sleeping in the chair a lot, I also wanted to recline and relax in the chair. So I went from chair to chair, sitting and rocking a while, then stretching out in the chair and testing it for sleeping comfort.

"May I help you?" a helpful clerk asked.

"No I'm just looking for a chair," I answered.

Two hours later and I'm still testing and retesting chairs.

"Are you SURE I can't help you?" the helpful clerk asked. By now she was beginning to get furrow lines in her forehead. She may have thought I was a homeless person trying to sneak a nap in a comfortable place. (Note to self: Dress a little spiffier the next time I go shopping for a recliner.)

Finally I found the exact chair I wanted. A deep green La-Z-Boy recliner, it was comfortable in all sitting and reclining positions.

I have spent many hours in that chair and we've gotten along very well over these past many years.

Sunday night, however, must have been the chair's opportunity for revenge.

So back to my story, where I left off, my left leg tucked under my behind, my seat poised just over the chair seat.

Now this is where my recollection of the events get a little fuzzy. Between that precise moment of contact with the recliner seat and the next 2 seconds, I found myself on my back looking at the ceiling. I do not remember the chair flipping over backwards, but that's exactly what happened. I guess.

At first I laughed and laughed. Omigosh, I remember thinking, this must look hilarious. I must be quite a sight in a seated position except I'm on my back not my tush.

Then I looked at my left hand, still deftly balancing the plate with the sandwich. I sat the plate on a book stand next to the chair. That was one less thing to worry about.

OK, now to get out of the chair, I thought. All I have to do is swing my right leg down and over to the left and just roll out. My right leg swung down and over the left side of the chair, but since my behind was in the back of the seat of the chair, there was no way that weighted package was moving.

Maybe I could swing my left leg over my right side and roll out of the chair the right way (literally and figuratively). If my behind wouldn't come out of the seat of the chair when I swung the left way, I don't know why I thought it would leave the comfort of the chair to roll out the right way. I suspect I had blood rushing to my head by now and I wasn't thinking clearly.

All of a sudden I realized this was not funny at all. I tipped my head backward a little bit and I could see that the chair back was tight against the window drapes and they were stretched taut.

Oh great, I thought. All I need is for the drapery rod and those drapes to come piling down on my head.

I tried to roll out of the chair a couple more times. Nothing.

Now I began to get worried. I had visions of my decomposing body being discovered jammed up against the wall, penned up there by a green recliner.

Luckily I usually have my cell phone attached to the waistband of my slacks or jeans. I struggled around to get my phone out of its holster. I opened it up and clicked on the "i" to bring up the entry for my son, Blair. ("I" is the first letter of ICE - In Case of Emergency. You've seen those Internet e-mails that tell you to have an entry for ICE, so if you're ever in an accident the Emergency Medical Technicians will know who to call for next of kin.) I figured this was an emergency.

I pressed on ICE and then "send." Blair's phone rang and rang. Finally his voice mail came on. I left a message. I wasn't too panicked yet because at 9:30 at night I knew he and/or the kids would be at home. Maybe he was in the shower.

So I dialed the house number. It rang and rang. The answering machine came on and I left him a message about my tale of woe. Then suddenly the panic hit me.



The answering machine shut off.

About that time, I was feeling awfully alone. I hung up and dialed his house again. This time my granddaughter, Jessica, 14, answered.

"Jessica, didn't you hear me yelling for your dad to answer his phone?"

"No," she calmly replied. (Obviously she's never been pinned on her back against a wall by a recliner or she wouldn't have been so darned calm.)

I began telling her about my plight.

"Grandma, that is SOO funny," Jessica giggled.

At that moment the recliner dropped maybe 10 or 12 more inches so the back of the chair was now flat on the floor. It must have also repositioned my tush in the seat of the chair because I was able to swing my right leg over the left side of the chair and roll out of the recliner fairly easily. (Getting up from the floor was another story.)

Blair came into the room.

Taking the phone and after hearing about my brush with death, he said, "Mother, you knew I was going to Bible study and my phone ringer would be turned off.

"Why didn't you just send me a text message?"

I hate it when my kids think they know all the answers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fly your flag today

Today is 9/11

Please fly your flag

In memory of those

Who died that day

Feed yard

Everyone wants the community to grow, to bring in more businesses and to prosper. At this point, I am feeling pretty conflicted.

A feed yard wants to establish a 7,000-head feedlot a little less than 5 miles west of town. That would make it probably 10 miles from my home. So where's the conflict?

For one thing, I don't think I've ever heard of a feedlot that stayed at the size it began. My fear is that it will increase in multiples of that opening number. In a few years that 7,000 head could become 21,000 head.

Make no mistake about it, cattle poop stinks - a to-high-Heaven stink. If you think that smell won't penetrate the city, think again. If the wind is in the right direction, you'll be able to sniff that smell for miles. And what direction do our winds come from in the fall and winter? Yep, the north/northwest.

In my opinion, the community I lived in for most of my life made a huge mistake when they allowed a feedlot to be established a mile north of town. It's impossible a good share of the time to hang clothes outside because when you bring them in they'll smell like the feedlot.

"Smells like money," some will say. Well, maybe for the feedlot owners, but I don't think the average resident will think money smells all that great.

Now, if you live on a farm or ranch, the smell just goes along with the job and you expect it.

I don't know how far out of town you need to establish a feedlot to keep the stench from permeating the whole town, but I'm pretty certain it's more than five miles.

I sure hope some deep thought goes into the location of this feedlot (and I have no idea who is developing the feedlot). Air quality is a pretty precious gift and it's hard to get it back once it's polluted.