Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Road Trip for Family- We've Come a Long Way!!!

Two weeks ago, my dad and I went on a road trip. I do road trips everyday for work- driving 3-4 hours to a meeting then 3-4 hours home but this one was different for several reasons. The first reason is it was 12 hours to our destination, second, my dad came with me and third, we were headed to my cousin's wedding.

I had a few revelations and memories come and go as we traveled to and from San Antonio. First, I think I like traveling the interstate in Texas. The speed limit is 80 mph and even though it's 75 here and I travel 80, in Texas I still traveled at 80. Second, in all those miles I only saw and passed one Toyota Prius, Texas must have a law against them and Arizona should maybe consider getting one (Sorry if I just offended you but they drive me crazy going 75 in the fast lane on the freeway between Phoenix and Tucson or Phoenix and Yuma and they never get over). Third, Texas has signs on the freeway that say the left lane is for passing only and people actually go along with it. Makes the traffic move much more smoothly. Although I do think (at least from El Paso to Ft. Stockton) Arizona might have some better scenery and it's much easier to get on the freeways and up to speed in Arizona. Overall the actual travel wasn't bad. It was a fast trip- left on a Wednesday morning and came home on a Friday night but we saw family, met new friends and family and saw the sites!

At the wedding it was mostly my cousin Ivan's (They call him Foster) friends and his new wife's family but we Fosters represented. There was his dad and step mother, sister, my dad and me! It was funny the last time I saw him was probably 13-15 years ago and he was in high school and he was this awkward, gangling all arms and legs and a ton of crazy curly hair. When he walked into the wedding location he had grown into a tall, strong, big man with a deep voice shook everyone's hand and slapped backs like he was campaigning  I think that is something our generation does that maybe our parent's generation didn't do. Any although I was out of my element and didn't really know anyone I felt very proud of who he had become based on what others said and how they respected him and his new bride. Which by the way I think he brought up the class in the family with her. She's so nice and will do him and all of us good.


So enough about the gushy stuff. We had an opportunity to congratulate the bride and groom and tell a story. I didn't have anything at the wedding and I was a little emotional but I thought of many stories on my 14 hour drive home.

Like when we were little and we would make taffy at Christmas. Each kid would get some to pull and we would wash our hands, butter them up and then start pulling the taffy so it would harden before putting it on the trays to cool before being cut up. Then we would divide up the taffy between all of us. But Ivan got all of his because he could never get his hands completely clean so his taffy always looked grey... but maybe that's just added protein and fiber!

Also he is very creative. Even as a kid, I still have the arrowhead me made out of obsidian glass. Every time I see that in my jewelry box I think of him. But he was also funny. I think I am one the funniest people I know but he's funnier. When he was a little kid he once crawled up on my dad's shoulder and sat there on the couch. When my dad asked him what he was doing, Ivan replied without missing a beat "I'm a frog sitting on a lily pad." Dad still laughs at that.

I also thought of when we were kids and his mom (who's really short) would borrow our truck to go to town (before seat belts were required) and load all the kids and sometimes my mom and I. She couldn't reach the pedals without scooting forward because the seat had been bolted down for my Dad's 6'2" frame so she would put a cinder block behind her and Ivan would ride on that sitting behind her. People that would meet the truck on the road saw a two headed person driving the truck!

But mostly I remembered how small Ivan was a kid and how he was the first baby I ever saw at the hospital. He had been born and so they took him and his mom around to a full length window so we could look in and see him for the first time. He was so small and as he grew up he was still small- all legs and no meat on his bones. He used to get sick every winter and when the power would go out his parents would bring him over in the early morning and stick him in my parents bed to keep him warm. Their house at the time was solely heated by power and we had wood heat so even if there wasn't power we would have a warm house.

But at the end of the wedding and as we neared home. I realized something that might sound egotistical or snobbish but I think the three of us cousins that grew up together- with knock-down fights and games and memories did pretty darn good for our lives. All three of us have become successful, productive members of society and have come along way from being the poor kids on the creek that sometimes received Christmas presents and food boxes from charity groups to people who have earned Airborne wings, Master degrees, own businesses, work in programs producing thousands of dollars, have married, had kids and still take care of our dads because we love them and except them for who they are and we are never too proud to tell people where we came from. But I think we could have never been as successful as we are if it wasn't for our parents and grandparents believing in us and letting us work hard for what we have and to know the difference in value between things and people.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Fear and Dependance

My small group is starting a new study this week- Max Lucado's Fearless. I read the first chapter at lunch and had a 45 minute drive home to contemplate what he said and the questions he asked. I think this study may kick my butt but it will also make me a better person when I am done. You may or may not agree with me on faith issues but for me I have seen His work in my life and I'll share an example or two that has to do with fear. I warn you this is a rather long post.

The first chapter is about when Jesus and the disciples were in the storm and the disciples were freaking out because the ship was rocking (the term used was what we use to describe earthquakes) and they thought they were going to die and the whole time Jesus is sleeping. It's cool- He had it under control and was with one word able to calm the seas.

Jesus totally knew there was going to be a crazy storm and he was going to calm the sea and he knew they would freak out and be afraid. But he let it happen anyway. Let that sink in... I had too- He let it happen anyway. There was a lesson to learn. And for me in my fearful times I had to depend on him to get me through and I had to focus on him. My fear was not rational and it took time away from being able to focus on the good. Now that I am past many of my fearful experiences or life lessons I can see clearly the lesson or the steps along the way.

I still have crazy fears- like heights and snakes and being in a body of water and not being able to touch bottom. They are the kind of fear that I become a totally insane and irrational person. If you have been with me when I've been in an elevator that goes higher than 5 floors you know what I mean.

But in life there are fears we all have- job loss, finances, friendships, love and health. We sometimes fear that someone isn't going to like us or if we contradict or disagree with our boss we will lose our job or that some health crisis is going to spin our lives out of control. Funny thing is both of the major health crisis's in my life that I completely panicked on was totally out of my control after I came through the crisis.

The first experience was when my dad had to have open heart surgery about 14 years ago. He was afraid we were going to lose the ranch because we didn't have health insurance and I had just graduated about 9 months earlier from college but hadn't found a job yet. ,I on the other hand, decided that losing the ranch wasn't an option and so began my next three months of just taking one step at a time and focusing on my next check box. It was a total God thing because I was so lost and so overwhelmed but also so calm (at least for my dad- I didn't want to him to see me cry because I needed to be the person to take care of him- the strong one.) So we found out he had to have all his teeth taken out for fear of heart issues later. So we began the process of each week driving the 100 miles round trip to the dentist to have him pull a few teeth then go back the next week to remove stitches and pull a few more.  The next step was to figure out how to have the operation with out insurance and still keep the ranch. It was going to be in the thousands to have this surgery. Thankfully my dad had just spent the last 20 years working for the neighbor's ranch in addition to having our own place. This neighbor was an open heart doctor who had traveled the world training and starting heart hospitals. He said  his team would operate for free (nice employee benefit!). We would still need to pay for the hospital and that would still be a lot of money. Then we had a phone call from a friend in town who asked if I had checked with the Veteran's Hospital because my dad had military service and they might be able to help. After a few phone calls we found out that they would allow the operation but they didn't have a heart team at their hospital in Portland but we had one so three months after we found out dad needed surgery he had it and it only cost us $700 for the use of the operating room.  So God was totally in control of the situation and there wasn't anything to be afraid of. But afterwards that was when I was afraid. My grandma had the same surgery and three months had a stroke and died. So for several months I became Nurse Crachet and was crazy about his nutrition an what he was allowed to eat going so far as to set his coffee pot on fire so he wouldn't drink coffee. And for four months after my dad had surgery I would lay awake at night listening to him breathe because I was so afraid he would have a stroke and die and I would be alone. It's totally crazy because I can't control a stroke or his breathing but I thought that as long as I could hear him breathe or he didn't drink coffee or soda everything would be OK.

The second and more quickly explained crazy fear was a few months ago when I had a health scare and there was a possibility of having the same open heart surgery. The thought of having surgery and the limitations of driving and lifting and exercise didn't scare me or make me nervous. What I was afraid of and freaked out about... the fact that I would have a scar on my chest and that a room full of doctors and nurses would see me naked.

All I am saying is sometimes fear has a funny way of showing up or we think we can control it when God is probably shaking his head saying don't worry- I got this.