Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Gloriously Ghoulish poem

Ghostly Guests

A gaggle of giggling ghosts gathered gaily
to groan in the graveyard one night.
They glided so gracefully, Grigsby the groundskeeper
gasped at the glorious sight.
He gaped as the glimmering, glistening glow
grew legs and goose-stepped through the grasslands below,
but just at the gate of my grandma and gramps,
the ghoulish gang sneezed and blew out like gas lamps.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Happy, Haunting Halloween Poem

Haunted houses, eerie sounds
All the goblins gather round
Lonely ghoulies stalk the night
Lurking in the ghostly light
Owls hoot softly, "Whooo is there?"
Witches cats are everywhere
Evil creatures, grim and hairy
Even trick-or-treat seems scary
Neighbors laugh and give you candy


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Family Photo Wall Finally Finished! (And photo'd.)

Ta-Dum! Step right up, ye doers of visual projects, and feast thy practiced (and hopefully, forgiving) eyes upon the first ever reasonably successful example of such a project on the part of Sue the blogger lady.

Yep, here it is!! The official and completely finished photo wall, created by little ol' me. (And by the way, this is indeed a genuine photo of the actual wall, itself, taken by yours truly and her trusty digital elf.) 

Should we add photography to my growing list of skills? (Perhaps not...)

Disclaimer:  Okay, in all candor, the wall is not exactly finished in the sense that I have yet to put up the two signs I ordered to go directly above the photographs. But those are also pictured above, so you can sort of imagine the finished product, except that the two signs (to be placed midway between the ceiling and the top row of pics) will be side by side rather than on top of each other. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself. And I do say so myself. Loud and clear, for all to hear.

So there you are. My family photo wall. What d'ya think?

Prop 8: Its impact? GREAT.

Warning:  This is not a "politically correct" post, at least where I live, but I feel obligated to make a statement of my beliefs and concerns about Proposition 8 due to its critical importance in this election.

I'll begin by affirming that I have no bias against gay individuals or groups per se and that I respect them as friends and associates. Neither do I oppose domestic partner statutes affording them any and all legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples in a marriage relationship. (Family Code 297.5) What I do oppose, specifically, is changing the legal definition of marriage to anything other than between a man and a woman. Here's how I see it. Domestic partnership is a newer status, engendered (and rightfully so) to support/protect the rights of same-sex couples. Marriage, on the other hand, is an ancient institution with well-established parameters developed more years ago than any of us would want to count and supporting/protecting not just the relationship between a man and a woman but the children that naturally result from the biological nature of such a union. 

It is my deeply held belief that marriage is ordained of God as a sort of three-way contract with Him, made by a man and a woman who wish to welcome God's spirit children into their home. It is also my deeply held belief that no man or woman has a "right" to expand or redefine an institution as set forth by God. His law is not ours to change. We have no authority, as the California Supreme Court apparently believes it has, to "legislate from the bench." 

Of course, I understand that not every American or Californian agrees with me, and I have no problem with that at all. There are many, however, who do agree. A number of people in our country (myself included) view marriage as a sacred estate whose purpose, at base, is procreation. Countless more, while not seeing this as a religious issue, are simply opposed to the idea of making marriage an umbrella category for every type of pairing entered into by committed individuals. In their purely secular view, marriage is marriage and domestic partnership is domestic partnership...historically, two different things. Indeed, why imbue an already established word, "marriage," with new definitions? It becomes confusing. Such new definitions, arguably, are best served by an equally new word. Should an e-mail address have the same nomenclature as a url? They are both internet addresses, but the dynamic, the process, and the end result of their use differs. Specificity in naming them, therefore, makes sense.

Other groups who support Proposition 8 are concerned about the manner in which a liberal state Supreme Court stepped in to overturn a law voted on and put in place by the people of California. Furthermore, a number of legal experts feel that the Court's ruling has established gay individuals as a "protected class." This status would likely make it difficult for individuals who are not gay to prevail in lawsuits where religious rights and gay rights come into conflict. Recently a doctor, whose personal religious views and conscience did not permit him to inseminate a lesbian woman, was sued by her and lost, even though another doctor agreed to perform the procedure. She had alternatives, in other words, but she was not satisfied with them. This suggests to me that the purpose of her suit was to satisfy one thing and one thing only: the need to see her rights as a gay person prevail over this man's right to freedom in practicing his religion according to his conscience. In all fairness, whose rights would be most violated here? Does his choice keep her from being inseminated as a lesbian woman? No. Does her choice to sue him (and win) keep him from practicing his beliefs (and medicine) as a religious man? Yes. She has other options. He does not. And yet, her rights prevailed...a harbinger, many people believe, of things to come. At the very least, a legal precedent has been set.

Another potential problem has been seen in Boston, where gay marriage is already legal. Catholic Charities has closed down operations there because it cannot arrange adoptions for same-sex couples and still maintain integrity with Catholic beliefs. Even though same-sex couples could have used other adoption agencies, the operative agenda was to see a gay person's right to adopt win out over the Catholic church's right to practice its religion and manage its adoption agencies in accordance with its core beliefs. Once again, religious rights lost the battle where there should be no battle at all. In essence, the right of gay couples to adopt at ANY agency they might want to approach was deemed more important than the right of an agency (run and based upon the Catholic religion and its tenets) to self-determine in accordance with its core beliefs. The Church was forced to either surrender its own rights or shut down. In this instance at least, gay rights trumped the rights of a religious group or individual. Where is the justice in that, especially if it becomes the national precedent? Where is the justice in having schools (at best) validate and (at worst) present ideas of marriage and family that are directly contrary to parents' religious beliefs? Should churches be sued if they refuse to allow same-sex marriages in their religious buildings that are open to the public? These are all concerns of mine. 

More than a few opponents of Proposition 8 label any person who supports the idea that only a man and a woman should be eligible for marriage as a "hater." Those who espouse same-sex marriage too frequently view those who oppose it as (best case) homophobic and (worst case) bigots who want to deny the rights of fellow citizens simply because their lifestyle does not agree with more traditional views. Both of these assumptions are patently unfair. What's more, they worry me, for they suggest that views based upon religion are now being classed with views based on racism, ageism, or other prejudices. Religion is not a prejudice, it's a right, as valid and sacred as any other. Yet, opinions based on religious belief have become suspect, and the right to exercise religion is becoming somehow "less worthy" than other rights. People do have a right to act in accordance with their religious beliefs, and those beliefs should be respected, not suspected. 

Contrary to (some) popular opinion, it is entirely possible to believe that men should not "marry" men and women should not "marry" women without bearing any malice at all toward the men and women in question. I fully support their right to form loving, committed unions under the protection of fair and equitable domestic partnership laws. For me, supporting Proposition 8 is simply about believing that marriage as an institution is ordained of God, between a man and a woman, with procreation as its greatest end. Period.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Bridge School Concert - Neil Young rocks!

Is there anything more fun than Neil Young's annual Bridge School concert at Shoreline Amphitheater? I don't think so, and the whole lineup (not uncharacteristically) was GREAT last night!

Neil opened with "I am a Child" and closed the show with rousing renditions of old favorites like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man," and "Unknown Legend." Good stuff, and he was playing 'em like he did when I was a teenager, which is pretty impressive, considering he's old as the hills. (I say this with impunity because I'm pretty friendly with those hills myself!) Of course, he looks like them and I don't...heehee

My favorites among the other performers were Sarah McLachlan, Jack Johnson, and Death Cab for Cutie. Sarah's voice is even more exquisite in person, with so many shades and colors that she truly does take your breath away. Incredible talent! 

Casual Jack managed to make me feel like I was happily sunbathing at the beach even though I was (still pretty happily) freezing at the venue. 

As for Death Cab for Cutie, those guys made my Friday night, October 25th, 2008 life so worth living (and so un-death-cab-like) that I couldn't help wondering how on earth they picked their not-so-cutie name. I guess the art of paradox is not dead.

Oh, and Norah Jones played too...mostly country. She was palpably nervous, which surprised me, and I was a little disappointed in the stiffness of her performance. (Or maybe it's me that was stiff...and not just from the cold, either. It's hard for me to relax when the artist doesn't.) Still a talented and very lovely woman, though.

Best part of all was that my husband and I attended the concert with our son and his friends, which sorta brought us back to our younger days, as did the sickly sweet smell wafting down on us from the nether regions of the lawn area. Yuck. Didn't like it then; don't like it now. Guess some things never change.

Some things do change, though, like the lives of kids with special needs who attend The Bridge School. They do some great work there, and one of the best things about going to this annual concert is ensuring that their work will continue, even in this economy.

One final thing that changed last night: the age of my eldest son, aka the biggest Neil Young fan ever. I wish he could have closed out his "turning 33 day" with us at the concert yesterday. I honestly can't think of anything he would have liked better...And nothing I would have liked better, either. Happy birthday, Matt!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Be Still and Know: It Works.

I have a bronze plaque in my living room that says, "Be still and know." It was ordered from a catalogue several years ago because I wanted a visual reminder that perpetual motion of mind or body is not a good thing. Plaque or no plaque, reminder or no reminder, I'm still not great at it. I do keep trying, though, and there's even been some improvement.

I was driving from Utah to Illinois with my husband shortly before our marriage when I received my first installment of what I like to call the "being still" lesson. We were traveling with his brother, and I'm really dating myself when I say that all three of us sat in the front seat. Halfway through the trip, my (now) brother-in-law did something bizarre. Emitting a crazed shriek, he suddenly pounced on my knee, seizing it in a grip that literally turned his knuckles white. When I looked over at him, my expression yelling "What's your problem, dude?" at the top of its voice, he managed to explain himself pretty well. I'd been jiggling my knee non-stop at high speed for several hours, and he had finally lost his ability to withstand my inability to be still. I, on the other hand, had not even realized I was moving! Even more interesting is this: As the ride continued, the moment I stopped focusing on keeping that knee still was the moment it would start jiggling again. My constant movement had become involuntary, almost like a reflex. 

I spent the rest of the trip trying to master the newfound challenge of being still, with my (now) husband laughing and smiling smugly at his brother as if they were partners in some kind of endurance test. "Yep, she never stops moving,"he kept saying (or variations on that theme). Needless to say, it was a long drive, but it did teach me something about myself.

I wonder how many of us never stop moving, not just physically but spiritually, and are completely unaware of it. There must be more than a few or there wouldn't be a scripture on the subject, right? One thing's for sure, I didn't have a clue...and sometimes I still don't. I do keep trying, though. 

Today I'm trying my very best to be spiritually still as I await the results (due this afternoon) of my friend's pathology testing. Why? Because being still works. Not only does it help me remember who God is, but it helps me remember who God isn't. (ME.)

And that's a great concept...which means I'll just keep on trying my best to Be still. And know. And pray. And listen

And learn, too. Because, while I may be a slow learner, on days like this I actually begin to feel like I'm getting there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Balm for the Refiner's Fire

This story, related to Malachi 3:3 (the "refiner's fire scripture), comes from a comment on THIS blog. I heard it once before and liked it but never saw it in writing until now. Here it is:

"Malachi 3:3 puzzled some women in a Bible study class, and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so so as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: 'He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.' She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?' He smiled at her and answered, 'Oh, that's easy––when I see my image in it.' If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you."

It's good to be reminded not only that the Lord has a plan for us, custom-tailored to our needs, but that He holds and watches over us as He puts that plan into action. I'm grateful to understand just how well He knows and loves us.

Many people are struggling through difficult times just now, as the subject matter addressed earlier this month in various general conference talks of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggests. I am continually grateful for the wisdom and inspiration available to all of us who seek answers in this life. These answers, confirmed and magnified by personal prayer, enable us to meet our necessary struggles with the hope and faith that can lift us above our own capacities to endure. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ we "are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor. 4:8-9). Or at least we don't have to be. Why? Not because of ourselves, that's for sure. Our ability to move forward with strength and courage rests in the Lord. When Paul prayed to have a "thorn in the flesh" removed, Christ responded: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul then went on to say, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasures in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor. 9-10). (I'm not even close to Paul's standard of "taking pleasure in infirmities"...but I suspect I'll get my share of opportunities to work on that!)

Once, when I was chronically ill and couldn't seem to find my way out of the despair I was feeling, I came upon Philippians 4:11-13. I made a note in the margin of my scriptures that said, "my life's lesson, 2/5/91." The instruction I received has stayed with me ever since. Here's what the amazing apostle Paul had to say on that occasion: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound, and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Apparently, you and I have signed on for the FULL life experience, and boy, are we gonna get it. Thankfully, we will never have to go through it alone. Today I just wanted to express my gratitude for that truth...and for the One whose truth it is.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breast Cancer: Knowing really IS half the battle

Today I'm guest posting on the subject of Breast Cancer Awareness over at Light Refreshments Served.  Click on over and read my post, okay?  =)

Background info:  This entertaining blog was created by a group of pretty terrific women, including the refreshingly funny sister-in-law (Lisa) to Stephanie (Nie Nie Dialogues) and Courtney (cjane)...big favorites of mine, as those who read my blog regularly are already aware. Coincidentally, another founder and regular contributor to Light Refreshments Served is Emily Watts. She is the first editor I worked with at Deseret Book when I wrote "At the End of Your Rope, There's Hope." A very funny lady herself, Emily was an encouraging mentor for me who sort of championed my book all the way to publication.

So, many thanks to Light Refreshments Served for an assignment that means a lot to me in light of my good friends who have had recent bouts with breast cancer and have come (or are coming) through the experience with much grace and courage. I dedicate this post to them.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Youth or Truth? Winning the Hair Game

My hairdresser kinda hates that I've let my hair go salt 'n pepper. (Correction: Make that salt 'n peanuts, which more aptly describes the color of my rapidly fading dishwater blond hair.) At any rate, she doesn't like it. When I went to see her yesterday for a haircut, she lobbed an opening remark at me so casual in its tone of feigned indifference that I almost missed the content. (Okay, the look on her face was pretty telling, she'd been sucking on a lemon.) Her "offhand" comment was something to the effect that it's been over a year now since we've covered the silvery stuff up with three or four subtly blended yet gloriously vibrant shades of energizing color. I volleyed right back at her with "Yeah. And it's not too bad, is it?" Sucking on an even tarter lemon this time, she threw down her racquet and let that conversational ball thunk right to the ground. I didn't pick it up, either. She's the pro, right? I think she may have rattled my confidence.

So here's the deal. As of today, these once lavish (now thinning) locks of mine are completely free of tints and dyes. All I have to do is decide if this is working for me. To that end, I will haul out the handy pros and cons list technique my mother taught me:

  1. Don't have to sit in salon chair forever with gunk on head.
  2. Don't have to smell or pay for gunk.
  3. Don't have to make choices about which shade(s) of gunk to use.
  4. Don't have to make scene when hubby fails to notice effects of gunk.
  5. Hair is healthier sans gunk.
  1. Am categorized as un-hip throwback by hairdresser.
  2. Am occasionally offered senior citizen discount by youthful checkers.
  3. Am trapped between "summer" and "spring" on color chart.
  4. Am jolted by light to moderate identity crisis when glancing in mirror.
  5. Am caught looking like my mother (only a con because she's better at it than I am).
I was going to add as a con that no one has complimented me on my hair lately, but then I remembered that two weeks ago one of my friends said she did like the color. Hmmm. Quandary: Was she being sincere or just trying to cheer my rapidly aging self up?

Looks like I've got some decisions to make. 
Comments, anyone?
(Don't know me? Then just vote your conscience.)   =)

Thought this little old poem of mine might fit here:

Growing Old Gracefully
c1997 by Susan Noyes Anderson

"You're growing old so gracefully,"
is what I'm often told.
Is that a compliment?
Should I be proud, or just consoled?

Do wrinkles glide across my face?
Can old bones creak with style?
Are aching joints more pleasing when
you bend them with a smile?

If silver hair distinguishes and
bifocals refine, then
I am truly elegant,
for both of these are mine.

I'm pleased that most observers find
my aging done with grace,
but I would gladly be more gauche
if that would slow the pace!

(For more poems like this, click here.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Am a Yellow Crayon

Thank heaven for online personality quizzes! I now understand myself as never before, and I intend to share. I know...This is deep, but you guys are my blog buddies. I mean, if I can't open up to you, what are we here for?

First of all...and I know it won't be easy to hear...I am a yellow crayon. Lots of crayons are yellow, and it doesn't mean they can't be other colors when the need arises. I am also a circle, a werewolf (lycanthrope), a peppy artist, and a complicated romantic. But, hey, I'm flexible. I could probably be a parallelogram, vampire, depressive no-talent, or solitary simpleton if the situation required. Let's face it. I am nothing if not versatile.

My incarnations are many and varied. I am Alice in Wonderland, John the Beatle, and the Goddess Athena. In a pinch, I can even be Mulan (see below). I also have "a strong sense of self" (interesting observation, considering the borderline multiple personality-disordered nature of my previous sentence). Anyone know a good psychiatrist?

Those of you who truly "get" me will probably agree that I am "strong and spirited," "no one's girly girl," "determined," "thoughtful," "wise," and that "some people even consider me a genius." (Whew! I freakin' rock!!) Oh, and don't forget "charming," "eloquent," and "able to get people to do things [my] way." (Would someone please inform my husband and kids so they can adjust their behavior accordingly?) An interesting side note is that I am at once "spontaneous" and "calculating." (Uh-oh, more evidence of the MPD diagnosis...)

I considered not divulging this one, but in the interest of full disclosure and even though my foray into personality quizzes has yet to reveal whether I am a risk-taker, I will...(drum roll, please)...take a risk. I am summer. Not spring, not winter, not fall, but...summer. This is somewhat troubling, as fall is by far my favorite season. Hmmm......There seem to be some incongruency issues here that might bear looking into. Again, is there a reputable psychiatrist in the house?

I don't think I'll go further with this today. It's all become strangely disturbing, and my strong sense of self (selves?) can't decide which alter ego to use in addressing my newfound issues. Should it be Alice? Athena? John? (JMHO, but Mulan seems a little too macho to wanna deal with any issues at all.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Those Magical, Marvelous Yellow, Blue & Green-Letter Days

You've had them, right? Not those red-letter days like births, baptisms, graduations and weddings but those seemingly ordinary days where suddenly, out of nowhere, some small, less than remarkable thing comes along and puts a sparkle in your eye and a spring in your step. 

I'm talking about those other-lettered days..................
yellow for instance, when a summer breeze conjures up the image of a postcard-worthy sunset shimmering in the water off Balboa pier. 

Or those frosty blue ones, when a whiff of smoke on the night air carries you back to a cherished Christmas Eve, complete with loved ones and a crackling fire. 

I'm especially fond of bright green-letter days when the smell of newly mown grass lands me square on the front lawn of my childhood home, rolling down its steeply sloping hill to the curb. (Once, my sister and I even ate the grass, placing it confidently in a cereal bowl with heaps of sugar and a splash of milk to ensure the taste. An unsuccessful experiment, I regret to say.)

Today it only took this picture of my grandson, straight from the pumpkin patch, to catapult me all the way to Thanksgiving. I've been smelling cloves and nutmeg every since I looked at it! And feeling grateful. Yep. Smelling spices and feeling grateful...a yellow-letter day indeed. (And don't forget a dash of orange for the season, blue for the sky, and green for the leaves.)

Red-letter days are thrilling. But I love these other-lettered days of life. Don't you?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hearts, Love, and Breast Cancer


Hearts Knit Together in Love

I found out Sunday that one of my very good friends has breast cancer. That makes friend number three whose body has been invaded by this disease in the last two years, and I'm beginning to take it personally. 

We should all take breast cancer personally. It used to be easy for me to dismiss it as something that happens to "other" people, but now that I've seen women I care about literally fight for their lives, I will never be able to dismiss it again. I hope you never will either. We can all be part of the struggle for victory over this enemy by getting regular mammograms, and yes, by doing those annoying self-exams at the same time each month. Early detection is key.

My friend, who will undergo surgery on Friday, is one of the best people I know. She is almost certainly the kindest and most tender-hearted. Maybe that's why it breaks my heart to think of what lies ahead for her. I do know that she will walk through it with faith and humility, because that's how she operates. I hope she will let her friends walk with her, whenever she needs us. We all want to do anything and everything possible to ease her way.

I look forward to the day when my friend comes out the other side of this trial, stronger in new and eternal ways. In the meantime, I am grateful for Elder Holland's reminder that we are never alone in our hours of greatest need: "...for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88).

(Love to M.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Faith is a Choice, Not A Feeling

When I was a fairly new and somewhat neurotic young mother, I wrote the following poem:

©1999 by Susan Noyes Anderson, Awaken Your Spiritual Power

Sometimes I'd like to be
the type
who lives my life
without a backward glance––
and I would dance
through days
unburdened, fancy-free.
Instead, I'm me.
You know, the one
who counts the cracks
on every wall
and then recounts them
lest it fall
(knowing full well the chances are
it will).
Still, I have moments
when I just
let go––
then I stop counting cracks
and count on
You ask if the wall falls?
It's safe.

Twice every year, in the spring and in the fall, my church has a meeting called General Conference. At this time, the leaders speak on a variety of subjects, prayerfully chosen by themselves. The first two sessions of this conference were yesterday; the last two are today and can be viewed or listened to here.

Anyway, one of the speakers (Elder Neil L. Andersen) made the following statement: "Faith is not only a feeling, it is a decision." He pointed out that we all have days when the journey seems too hard and the road too long, days when we feel like we don't have what it takes to go on. He then reminded us that, while we don't know everything, we do "know enough."

And that was the basic and recurring theme of his talk. "You know enough," he kept saying. Wherever you are in your journey of faith (and I'm paraphrasing now), you know enough to take one more step, and another step, and the next step. Elder Andersen's admonition is that we need to choose faith. "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief," said the father of an ailing child (Mark 9:24), and the Lord responded accordingly. As we choose faith, our doubt will be replaced by more faith. 

In my early 20's, when I wrote the sort of whimsical poem at the top of this post, I was just beginning to comprehend this great truth about faith. My experiences since that time have taught me that faith is indeed a choice, not a feeling that descends upon us capriciously or by genetic design, but a very deliberately made choice. True, we are all at different points in our walk of faith, but what's important (and I liked being reminded of this by Elder Andersen) is that every one of us "knows enough" to want to know more. No matter how meager our reservoir of faith might feel, faith is more than a feeling. It is a decision, and we can decide to believe and decide to believe and decide to believe again. The Lord will do the rest.

And that's what "Keeping the Faith" is all about.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Siblings are Simply Spectacular


This picture of my siblings and me, minus my camera-shy big sis (photo-shopped out because she doesn't like face-time on the internet) sits in a prominent place (big sis included) in my home office. Above it, I have inserted the following words:  

"Some friends love you the best in life and some love you the worst, 
But no one loves you quite so well as those who loved you first."

How true this is, or at least it should be. I realize there are families whose brotherly and sisterly bonds are weak or even non-existent, and my heart goes out to them for what they are missing. My own siblings are scattered far and wide, but I know that if I ever really needed hands-on assistance, any one or all of them would be here as fast as trains, planes, boats or automobiles could take them. This is a blessing in my life that I do not take for granted.

I guess most of you know that I am a devoted fan of Cjane (see the large yellow button near my blog list at the right). The reason I relate to her so strongly is because of her devotion to her sister, Stephanie (NieNie Dialogues). In fact, all of the Clark (Nie and Cjane's maiden name) brothers and sisters are working together as one to get their sister through what has to be the biggest crisis in her life. Burned over 80% of her body, Stephanie is fighting to get well, and her siblings are fighting at her side by taking care of her four small children, as well as rallying emotional and financial support throughout the blogosphere and beyond. It's quite remarkable, and I love to see and read about it.

In addition to just "being there" in hard times, siblings help you stay grounded. When I feel off kilter, the best thing I can do is touch base with that good-looking group at the top of my blog. Being with them helps me remember who I am, because they remember who I am. Our shared history makes me feel centered, even when my legs have been knocked out from under me. I feel safe and secure in their presence. I also feel known, loved and understood, which helps me to know, love and understand myself.

Yep, siblings are the best thing ever...simply spectacular. (Especially mine!) 

P.S. Now check out the other pics at the top of this post...the younger crowd, so to speak. A whole new generation of siblings is on the rise. Pretty cool.