Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Motion of the Ocean

I was born and raised in New York City. It is without a doubt one of the busiest places on the face of our planet. There was always movement and noise.
Buildings with large glass windows captured the sun, allowing only a few vagrant rays to reach the ground. A few trees dot the sidewalks, their branches blending in with the dominant grey color of the buildings that outnumber them.

New York has its own heartbeat. Maniacal, yet steady, it easily drowns out the sounds of beauty. My mind ran in synch with that beat. Always pulsating, never slowing down, never stopping. I longed for a slower pace. I needed something that would remain steady, lest my mind be thrown into arrhythmia, but I also needed something that would soften the harsh drumming that orchestrated my thoughts.

I found that peace at the ocean. Though we lived in the city, we made the trek to the beach at least a few times every summer. I am grateful my parents did that. I guess it was easy to assume they made the trip just for my benefit, but in hindsight, it probably saved their sanity as well. With very little concern or knowledge about the effects of UV rays, my mother would slather on a homemade mixture of baby oil and mercurochrome. She wanted to make sure I had a healthy summer glow. I am often amazed that I am not the victim of skin cancer. Those trips to the beach always made my spirit glow more than my skin.

It is no surprise, then that when I was able, I moved to another island, far away from the one I grew up in. This island was green and plush. The weather was always hot and humid. Colors exploded everywhere. The distinct sound of the coqui lulled me to sleep every night, a far cry from the blaring horns and sirens that pierced the New York City nights. And there was the beach. Cool Caribbean blue water. When I felt overwhelmed by stress I’d drive there and just sit on the white warm sand. It was there that I understood why I loved the ocean so much. The waves were steady and rhythmic. The waves were told to go just so far and no further, creating a soothing lullaby. And yet, the ocean demands respect. No one has fathomed its depths, though we have managed to land on other planets. The ocean holds secrets that will never be discovered and in a moment it can claim a life. I feel closest to God when I sit by the ocean. Perhaps it is because it reminds me so much of His character.

I don’t live on that island anymore. I now live 3 hours from the nearest shore. But at least one week a year, we take the time to go, and I just sit and I rediscover and I am reminded of who made me and who I am in Him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Aviso para servi co legal

My daughter got a ticket for not wearing her seat belt a few weeks ago. Actually, she was wearing her seat belt, but she got stopped for speeding. The state trooper gave her the ticket for speeding, then took it back, changed it to a seat belt violation, and proceeded to tell her that there is a nice young man at his church that she should meet. That is a story in itself, but the gem in this tale came in the mail a few days later.

Some of the law offices here will send out advertisements for legal services as soon as you get a traffic violation. That's why my kids have never been able to get away with not telling me what happened. Danielle received one in particular that is a classic in our book. In an attempt to be culturally sensitive and reach the growing Latino market, the advertisement was printed in English on one side and in a form of Spanish on the other. At least, I think that is supposed to be in Spanish. The errors are so many and so varied that we have spent hours just laughing about it. Folks, in Spanish, accent marks DO make a difference. As a matter of fact, in this example, it was the difference between saying we have been in north Carolina (capitalization error intentional) 50 years, and we have 50 anus' in north Carolina!

Danielle went to the lawyer's office to offer her assistance. To our shock, the receptionist who looked like she was bored with her job and with her life informed us that she could not read Spanish, and that they had not one, but TWO interpreters on staff!

Danielle left her contact information and requested that the lawyer call her, which he did. After explaining some of the more egregious errors, he told her that letter had been circulating for over a year and no one had said anything about it. No doubt they were too busy laughing their *ss*s off!

Each individual error may be hard to see in this scanned copy, but trust me when I say that every underlined word or phrase is an error. Since it is a letter from a law firm, and I don't want to risk tangling with them, I have whited out the actual name of the firm. But if you really want to know who the culprit is, or get a clearer scanned copy, feel free to contact me.

To my English only friends, not much of this will make sense. However, I will draw your attention to the last sentence which has six colons and no periods. Maybe they just ran out of dots!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Southern Driving

I love New York. Even though I moved away from there 14 years ago, I still carry it in my heart and in my accent. An acquaintance at work recently asked me where I was from. I answered “New York”. Their head tilted sideways and their eyes scrunched together a bit as they asked, “Do you commute?” I had to stifle a laugh as I replied, “Oh, you mean where do I live now?” Regardless of where I live, I will always be from New York.

I have been back to New York at least half a dozen times since leaving. I go back to visit family and friends, to show my children the place that is their birthright, and to eat real pizza. Although I have no plans to move back, I enjoy being a momentary tourist. New York really is a wonderful city.

There is, however, one thing about New York which I absolutely, unquestionably do not miss - driving in the city. The last time I drove there, it took me 40 minutes to find a parking space 6 city blocks away from where I was staying. In the process of looking for the parking space, I got flipped the bird so many times, I thought I was ready to fly. More drivers honked their horns at me than I care to remember. Good thing I have an excellent sound system in my car. They’d honk, I’d just turn up my bass a little more. (see, I remember how to be a real New Yorker). Nevertheless those 40 minutes were more stressful than the 10 hour drive before it.

I live in the country now. We honk, but only at dogs, deer or possum. We wave at each other, not offer the one finger salute. And for the most part, we take life a little slower. I like it that way. It gives me more time to breathe. It gives me a chance to be friendly and to think random thoughts. I guess that is the reason I moved away, first to the ocean and now to the country. I needed time and space to slow down. See, I drive behind tractors now – literally. I took this picture at a wide intersection yesterday on the way home from South Carolina.

What I didn’t capture was the 12 cars that were behind the van, all waiting for the Red Rider to get through the light. The amazing thing was not one of them honked their horn. No one shouted, at least not outside their own car. I sat and watched as that driver went through the light and only after he made a turn into an easement across the road did the other cars accelerate. It made me laugh, because it was such a typical North Carolina scene. And I pondered – why are so many people, including myself always in such a hurry? That man may have cost the other drivers a few minutes in their driving time, for sure. But from my perspective, the entertainment value of seeing a ride on mower leading a line of cars far outweighed any inconvenience.

I read the news this morning. Last night, on that very road, a driver lost control of his vehicle and died in the crash. The road was closed for three hours in both directions. It saddened me, because officials suspect that speeding was a factor in the accident. How ironic. A mower only slowed traffic for a few minutes. A speedster who lost his life, slowed traffic for hours. As much as I still carry New York’s rapid rhythm inside my heart, I think I will never again feel frustrated when I get stuck behind a country driver.

Do you have any driving stories? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Broken Bunnies

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she brought me a little trio of bunnies. They were a 'just because' gift for me from her classroom treasure chest. She got to pick out one gift every 2 weeks for being good. Rather than getting something for herself, she got something for me. I saw it as a special sacrifice from a 5 year old. Those bunnies are precious to me.

Somewhere along the line, perhaps during one of our moves, the bunnies fell and got cracked and chipped. I think it happened more than once. I have glued them back together as best as I could, but there are still pieces missing, and the cracks are evident. Nevertheless, they are precious to me.

I started thinking, I am like one of those bunnies. Purchased with a sacrifice. I have fallen, and have been broken, and even though my Lord's hand has picked up the remaining pieces, the scars still show. There are still holes that plead imperfection. But He still loves me. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand why He still loves me, why He still thinks of me as His precious child. Sometimes all I see when I look in the mirror is how broken I still am. Yet He loves me.

Then I remember my bunnies. And how much they mean to me. They might not mean anything to anyone else. Others would reject them in an instant, but not me. They were purchased with a price, as was I. I choose to see the love they represent, not their imperfections. My master sees me that way too.
Better still, He sees you with eyes of love too, no matter how broken you think you might be.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Color Restoration

I was sitting at my desk scanning some old photos before I placed them in my scrapbook. My scanner has a feature called 'color' restoration'. I keep it checked, figuring it is probably a good idea. On most of the photos, the difference is negligible. Some pictures simply become brighter, which is not always a feature I want. But there was one photo I scanned that made me examine the original and the restored copy.
It is a picture of my children's father, walking in the rain. It's a silly picture and one of my favorites because he is wearing blue shorts and cowboy boots and holding an umbrella. The sidewalk reflects the drops and you can tell it is late fall because the trees are almost bare, and there is an abundance of golden leaves on the ground.
I see all this in the original picture, which was probably taken in 1988. I can see the surrounding apartment buildings in the background, I can see the fading grass. It is a picture I took, and I remember it well. It is so familiar to me.
When I scanned it using the color restoration feature, I was taken aback. What I considered familiar, was in fact, faded. The restored photo brings out the brilliant green of the leaves that remain on the bushes. The bare trees stand out in deep contrast to the golden leaves. The sidewalk is a city slate grey, not the warm tan it appears to be in the original photo. Bill shorts are a bright blue, his t-shirt a contrasting yet equally bright red. The umbrella a sleek black, reflecting the silver raindrops.
How could I have forgotten the true nature of a picture I am so familiar with?
Time faded the beauty of the colors, blending them into soft yet almost lifeless shades of tan and yellows. And time faded my memory of what it was originally like.
So often, our relationships with our friends, our siblings, our spouses and even with our God are like that. Time fades the original beauty into something familiar, yet dull. We forget the beauty we once saw in the eyes of our newborn, or the brilliance that attracted us to our spouse. And we forget the way we once viewed our God. We become too familiar with what we suppose Him to be, and we are comfortable, but no longer impressed or moved by His beauty.
Scan your life today. Select the color restoration feature as you look at your friends, your family,and your God. See them with the eyes and the heart you once saw them with. Forget the wounds that hasten the fading process and open your eyes to the beauty, the brilliance, the wonder that is still there.

Friday, April 3, 2009

For a Purpose

This morning on my way into the office I caught the end of a conversation on the radio. I don't know what topic was being discussed, but what I heard was a confirmation to someting that has been stirring in my heart.

The speaker said "If you forget where you came from, you forget who you are. If you forget who you are, you won't learn the purpose that God has put you here for."

I believe that all of us are indeed placed on this earth for a purpose. None of us were created in vain or by accident. And everything that we have experienced and learned can be used in the fulfillment of this purpose. We are each a unique and a wonderful blend of beauty created by God. Together we make up a wonderful mosaic.

What is your purpose? Don't know what it is? Then maybe it's time to think about who you are.

Hope you have a great weekend!