Monday, June 30, 2008

Impressive Support to Fire Fighters

I feel as if I should write another short note about the fires up here in Northern California. A friend of mine was telling me about this one church in our community that was feeding the fire fighters three meals a day and allowing them to sleep in their building. They could not believe the amount of support that was being donated by various different individuals and businesses in the community. Apparently, there was one room just filled with food and supplies to the point in which "it looked like a Wal-Mart". One lady even showed up and was giving some of them massages.

The fire fighters were amazed and some of them said that they had never before received such good treatment. So often they just sleep out in the brush, on the dirt, and eat rations supplied to them by the government.

Our community was really neat, though. Some of the residents that live along the main highways posted signs in front of their houses thanking the fire fighters. I don't know how they could have missed the fact that they were appreciated and loved. I don't think that the ones who came from the bigger cities are used to such treatment.

Northern California Fire Stress & Our Lost Friend

Well, I thought this post was going to be about the fires, yet once I got going, I ended up talking about our dog Casper again. Hopefully, you guys will not be too tired of the subject. It seems that I have to work my way through it somehow before I can move on.

You see, as these fires were burning, we were stressing over our sick dog, Casper, that had lung cancer.

Starting from the beginning, on June 11, Casper had what appeared to be a seizure, so we took him to the vet on the 12th. Due to the fires, the power was out during our first trip to the vet, so we couldn't get any x-ray's done, but they did do a blood test. Later that evening, Casper had another seizure, so we called the vet back on the 13th and she prescribed a seizure medication and we also scheduled some X-rays for Monday, June 16.

Meanwhile, the fires were burning and they evacuated part of a town near by. They did not evacuate our area, yet there was enough of a scare that there were gas lines at the pump, to fill up with all this wonderful expensive gas, just in case of an evacuation. I think that I might have written about this in one of my comments somewhere. A lot of the streets were closed to everyone but fire trucks and the ones that weren't were congested with people trying to evacuate. A lot of the gas stations were actually running out of gas and the gas trucks were having trouble getting in in order to deliver more gas to the stations. What a mess!!

We packed up our car, just in case we would have a need to evacuate, yet I was really hoping that we wouldn't have to because I wasn't sure that our sick dog would make it through such an experience and anyway, how are we supposed to get those x-rays done if we are required to leave town? I was so unbelievably stressed.

Well, luckily, we didn't have to evacuate, yet the x-rays that were done on Monday did not bring us good news. Casper was diagnosed with lung cancer and was not expected to live too much longer.

The following week was really hard. As the fires kept burning, Casper was having trouble breathing and after awhile he stopped eating.

By the end of the week, they appeared to have the fires under control and since we were expecting company on the weekend of the 21rst and 22nd, we decided to unpack our car and put our house back in order. In the hope that Casper might decide to eat something, we cut back on the dose of the seizure medication that we were giving Casper because it was making him sort of groggy and depressed, unfortunately, he still wouldn't eat.

On Friday, the 20th, Casper did something sort of interesting. He walked through every room in our house and just stood there and stared at each room as if saying good bye to his house. He also walked over to some of the furniture that he used to actually sit on when he was strong enough to jump up onto it and laid his head down on each of his favorite spots. It was sort of sad to watch.

Saturday morning, June 21, at 9:40 AM, Casper passed away. I heard a thud in the hallway next to the front door and when I went to check on him, he was gone, so we put his body in a box and took him to the vet for cremation. When we got home, I had to finish cleaning the house for our company that arrived later that evening.

In the afternoon of that day, there was the most horrible thunder storm and I was thinking of how it was sort of a blessing that Casper had passed away in the morning, early enough to miss experiencing this storm. Casper always hated thunder and this storm was so loud that it even made me shutter. I don't think I've even heard one quite so close and loud as this one. It would have killed Casper for sure and I felt grateful that the thunder storm was not his last memory.

Our company admitted to not being really strong dog lovers, yet they were quite supportive anyway and it was really nice to have the company.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the thunder storm started more fires and before long, we had our car all packed up again for possible evacuation. I've been wondering all this past week, if this is ever going to end. I've been feeling really tired of feeling stressed and I really would like to return to normal life soon. On one day, it seemed like the fire might be coming our way and we actually packed up our travel trailer and moved it to the property of some friends of ours, just in case we might decide to use it later. Well, we are still here and no evacuation has been announced for our area.

I want to thank you all again for your kind words of condolence and sympathy that you've put on my previous posts about our dog. I was telling Gayle in one of the comments that perhaps "the mourning process wouldn't be taking quite so long if they could just get these fires under control." This seems to just go on for days and even weeks.

"I praise God that, so far, they have been able to keep the fire from coming our way, yet I'm so tied of the smoke. I'm tired of wondering and stressing and I even miss some of the family pictures that have been removed from our wall. If they would just get these fires under control, we would be able to move on with our lives in relation to both the fire and the loss of our dog."

On a more positive note, the smoke did clear a little later yesterday afternoon and I was so glad to hear the sound of the helicopters flying over head. The smoke has been so bad that they have not been able to fly their aircraft over the fire and without the air support, the fire fighters have not been able to make much head way in getting these fires under control. As the air cleared and I begin to hear the helicopters, I was really praising God!!

It is even getting easier for me to look at the pictures that I've posted below of Casper without crying, so I can tell that there will be better days. Praise God!!

If you want to see some pictures of Casper and read more about him, than skip over the next post and go on down to where the pictures are and than read the post below the pictures. He was really quite a pretty and also special dog. Enjoy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Having Fun with my Hit Counter

I installed a hit counter on my blog on June 16, 2008. It's taken me awhile to figure out how to most efficiently view it, for my first impression of it was that the only thing that is easy to see at a glance is the number of hits, which is actually a misleading number, because just as I suspected, there are often several hits coming from the same person, so the hits per. day number does not equal the number of visitors (people) who have been by.

In order for me to view some of the other details, I have to flip through several web pages in order to find all of the information I'm looking for and I found this to be a little frustrating at first until I finally came up with an idea for a chart with the towns and states listed on the left, the dates across the top and the number of hits per. day coming from each location on each day being filled in on the chart. This could work. It's too bad that the computer doesn't do this for me, but hey!! It's free and you sort of get what you pay for, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, when I first started working on this post, there were 110 hits on my blog since June 16, making an average of 11 hits per. day. I don't know if that's a lot or not. During the first week, I was getting an average of 8 hits per. day and than just a few days ago, this number jumped to 11 hits per. day. I'm not sure what caused the increase, but I'm guessing that I finally got around to doing some visiting. When I decided to label my posts, as you now see on the right, my "Page Views" per. day numbers went up, so that was a very good move. Praise God!!

I am honored to realize that several of you do indeed visit me daily and in fact, often several times a day, just as at least one of you has admitted to. The idea that several loyal patriots can make my hit count go up is interesting. I guess I should really try and reward you with a little more to read.

Along with the loyal regulars, it looks like in all, there have been hits from 18 different towns since the 16th. Imagine that; 110 hits from 18 different people. I'm intrigued with the fact that some of you come by so often, even though there's not always anything new to read, yet I'm honored that you do come by. Thank you.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Our Dog Casper - Photos - Samoyed

Well, eventually I'd like to do a tribute to our dog, Casper, that died Saturday morning at 9:40 AM, including a lot of details about his life, yet for now I think I'm just going to post some photos, so that you all can know what he looks like. So here they are.

If you would like to read more about him, you can read the next post down and/or click on the label on the right entitled "Our Dog - Casper".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Gradual Loss of Man's Best Friend

I wonder how hard it's going to be for me to do a post about our most precious dog, Casper. Eventually, I would like to do a full tribute to my dear friend, including pictures and the like. For now, I'm just going to say something brief to help my commenters realize why my heart aches and why I may or may not respond fully to every comment.

Our dog has lung cancer. I imagine that we are going to eventually have to put him down, yet for now, he seems to have his good and bad days. We have him on some anti-seizure medicine, Phenobarbital, which seems to have calmed him way down and even helped to stop his coughing spells. When he gets to breathing really hard or coughing, we just set him next to the fan and he calms down and sleeps and than perks up a little. It's hard to watch him breathing hard like that, so when he gets to the point in which he is like that a lot of the time, we will be putting him down.

This is so hard and I've already been crying over it.

We also have some out of town company coming on Friday, so I'm going to spend some time cleaning up and getting ready for them.

Please do feel free to continue commenting on my blog. I'm going to check the computer daily and post the comments, but I may or may not respond. Thanks for your understanding. I love ya' all. Take care.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Unending Search for Blogging Balance

You know, I'm beginning to understand how people get in the habit of posting often. I always seem to have a list of things that I wish I had the time to blog about and abstaining from near constant computer use and keeping my priorities straight can be really hard at times. My husband complains that I'm on the computer too much and I try to accommodate his wishes, while feeling frustrated and anxious about what I'd like to say, yet don't have the time to post. It's quite frustrating.

And then I keep coming back to the subject of desiring hits on my blog. Once again, it comes up in my mind. Isn't that something? I say it doesn't matter to me that much and yet I keep talking about it. Here's the thing, though...

Beside the blogging posts that I wish I could do, I also sometimes wish that I could respond to some of the comments that are on other blogs, but sometimes I don't have time for that either and I drop the ball in the middle of certain conversations.

Could it be that those who have the most hits are those who have the most time to obsess over the computer and their blogs, while both posting and visiting other bloggers often and/or are highly efficient in their posting and visiting. Let's face it. A person can only handle the number of computer/blogging friends as one can handle and if the quest for numbers causes obsession, than it's probably not a healthy quest.

How do I get such an idea into my heart? I keep saying it, but I don't always live it. Finding the balance between ones computer and non-computer life is like a big puzzle that has no answer. Come on, Lord, help me!

On the Lighter Side - A few Jokes

Maybe it's time for a lighter post. Sometimes I just get too serious and it seems that I get fewer responses on the Spiritual posts than I do on the Political posts and the more lighter posts. I'm not quite as good at humor as some are, yet it is not as if I don't know a joke or two. I just wonder sometimes whether or not the jokes I know are old and out dated. Perhaps this time I'll try not to sit here and analyze the humor.

Here's a couple jokes.

Why did the light turn red?
You'd turn red too if you had to change in front of everyone.

Two men were walking in the woods and they saw a bear and the one man turns to the other and asks him, "Can you run fast?", and the other man answers and says "What does that matter? I was wondering if the bear can run fast.", but the first man responded "I don't have to out run the bear. I only have to out run you."

Or how about some religious humor?

A Bear in the Woods
A man was walking along in the woods and come across a bear. He knew that he couldn't out run the bear, so he didn't know what to do. Since he was a Christian he decided to pray about it, so he bowed his head and said a prayer. "Lord, please, I beg of You, allow this bear to be a Christian so that he will not eat me."

As the bear approached, the man felt a little relieved to see that the bear bowed his head too and prayed, yet what the bear prayed was not quite as encouraging. "Lord, please bless this food that I am about to eat. Thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful provision. Amen."

The Religious Horse
A man needed to buy a horse, but he was in a hurry, so he didn't ask all the questions that he should have before he took off on the horse.

The man who sold him the horse, was trying to explain to him some of the special instructions that he would need in order to ride this horse, for you see, this horse had been trained to respond to special commands.
Hallelujah meant go and Amen meant stop, yet since the man was in a hurry, he just looked at the health of the horse, saw that he was in good shape and jumped on.

The horse wouldn't go at first, so the man asked "How do I get him to go?" and the other man said "Just say Hallelujah." So the man said "Hallelujah" and the horse broke into a run before the man who sold it to him had the chance to tell him how to get the horse to stop.

Well, the horse took off running and was running really fast in the direction of the cliff and the man became very frightened because he did not know how to get the horse to stop, so he began to pray. In his prayer he said, "Lord, please tell me how to get this horse to stop. Please help me." and just as he finished his prayer by saying "Amen", the horse stopped right at the edge of the cliff.

Well, the man was so relieved and full of joy that he yelled out in a loud voice, "Hallelujah!!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Sculptor/Part 2 (The Fall of God's Creation)

When I first did the previous post, I knew I was sharing something special, yet I didn't fully realize how absolutely rich it was until I read it again later. Since this post is sort of a continuation of the one below it that I posted a couple of days ago, if you haven't already, you might want to read the previous post first before this one. It describes a mime presentation that my husband and I saw on Sunday night that I am still feeling inspired by and still writing about. If you take the time to read the earlier post first, this post may make more sense to you.

I have already stated in the previous post how this mime presentation illustrated both positive and negative change and how God's change is good, but Satan's change is destructive. What I didn't see at first is how the basic Gospel message could be derived out of it as well.

When the Sculptor, God, created the heavens and the earth, on the sixth day, after He created all the many animals, as a glorious grand finale, He also created man in His own image. From the dust of the earth, He created him and he was called Adam. And then He created Eve out of Adam's rib. At this point, God's creation was perfect and He called it very good.

The next thing that happened is that the enemy, Satan, used the serpent to tempt Eve, so that she would eat of the tree that God had instructed her and Adam not to eat and she gave in to the temptation, was disobedient to God and persuaded Adam to do the same. This caused the destruction of God's creation in that sin entered into the world, just as in the mime presentation, the villains destroyed the sculpture that the sculptor had created.

Throughout the rest of the Bible, God worked towards rebuilding His creation and His relationship with it. He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and gave the ten commandments to them through Moses. But that was not enough because man, in the weakness of his own flesh, could not keep the law.

Throughout the history of God's people, as recorded in the Bible, God disciplined them several times, just as they ended up captives in Egypt and than later due to their disobedience, God allowed them to be taken over by the Babylonians. Even in the time that Christ came to earth, born of a Virgin, the Israelites were under the oppression of the Roman Empire at the time.

This is just like how the Sculptor in the mime presentation had to use the hammer and chisel on His creation instead of the original gentleness of His hands.

Aside from the look of great distress on the sculptor's face, this particular mime allegory did not include the actual death on the cross that Jesus had to endure in order to pay the penalty for our sins. In relation to the fallen nature of man kind, since God has given us a free will, the lumps of clay within our hearts need to be submitted to God before He can do any work toward restoring us back to what we were originally created to be and yet that is the whole reason why Christ died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins, so that we might be restored back to right relationship with God and also to all that God has created us to be.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sculptor (A Mime Presentation)

My husband and I saw the most incredible mime show Sunday night of the sort that causes one to say Wow!!

There were a whole bunch of different mime presentations done to different pieces of music. One of the most impressive and moving numbers that they did was about a sculptor.

It starts with one of the mimes just laid over like an unshaped blob of clay. The other mime moves his hands around her as if shaping her and as he does so, she moves, gradually stands up, positions her hands over her head like a ballerina, opens her hands from a fist to opened fingers, and then as he works on her face, she first opens her eyes and then eventually smiles. Lastly, the sculptor positions her legs, so she looks just like a ballerina.

After the sculptor leaves the room, the ballerina comes to life, happily dances around and examines the drawing that the sculptor had used in order to shape her. Soon, three other mimes that had been there in sort of a wicked frozen position throughout the whole thing, come to life and wickedly move over to where the ballerina mime is and begin to taunt her and as they do, she becomes all distorted and full of despair. They take the picture away that the ballerina is looking at. She fights to get it back and it rips. Eventually, the oppressors leave the stage and the ballerina just stands there frozen, in an all distorted position and a very distraught look on her face.

Next the sculptor enters and sees the damage that has been done to his creation. He is quite saddened by it and with the gentleness of his skilled hands tries to fix her, but is not able to do it easily. With great pain in his face, he has to now use a hammer and chisel, instead of the gentleness and softness of his hands. There is distress in his face as he does it and the ballerina mime gradually returns to her original position, all bend over in a ball, like an unshaped lump of clay. Next, the sculptor starts over again and begins to shape her once again, in a way similar to the beginning of this mime number.

I was so incredible moved by this number. I just can't tell you how truly beautiful it was. I wish I had a video to show you, instead of just a description.

As I was watching this, I was thinking about, as I continually do, what we've been talking about on this blog and was thinking about how I could use this mime show as an illustration while responding to a comment that I had just read. As I thought it through, though, I realized that my thoughts about it are too long and that this is going to be a post, whether than just a comment, so here it is.

Since I was thinking about the previous post, though, as I was watching it, I've decided to go ahead and use this as an illustration about the subject of change.

Quite a number of things have been said about change in the comment section of my previous post (the next post down), such as not all change is good, it can be good, bad or neutral, how we fear change, how we change and grow because we are creative, the need to be cautious of side effects, whether than being in so much of a hurry, the problem of "throwing out the baby with the bath water", avoiding the extremes, the inevitability of change as a constant random time-related process, overtly caused change, the individual perception of change, the changes promised by politicians, changes imposed on us by politicians, how change for it's own sake is dangerous, how people can only handle so much change, so we need to prioritize our gripes, the unchangeable nature of God and His laws, and the fact that we are the ones who need to change, not God. Aside from this, there was also some interesting discussion about pride, stubbornness, yielding to God, the "Ponder Button", Negotiation and Bargaining, and Griper's grandpa's quote "A man without a gripe is a man who has no thoughts." There may be other themes added to this previous comment thread later, but that is where we were at when I published this post.

Getting back to the mime show, though, the number that I have described above is about change, in that the sculptor was producing change in His sculpture (the ballerina), as he worked on her. This is positive, creative change. The villains also caused a change in the ballerina, but that was negative change, resulting in the destruction of what the sculptor had created, so here we see illustrated that not all change is good. It required considerable effort and even anguish on the part of the sculptor in order to change back the damage that had been done to his sculpture.

If you haven't already figured this out, I will tell you that the Sculptor is a metaphor relating to God and how as our Creator, He shapes us into the beautiful creations that He intends us to be. The changes that are made by God are always good ones, yet the changes of the villains (Satan and his demons) are negative and destroy God's work. As we submit to God's changes, we become better people, but when we submit to the things that Satan offers us, we change in ways that are destructive. When God has to undo the damage of the negative change, He has to use hammers and chisels, whether than the original gentleness of His hands and there is usually pain involved.

There is also a Part 2 to this Post.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Little Humor Regarding Change

At least one of my commenters has mentioned that maybe it might be good to occasionally add a little humor to my blog, so here it is.

The first video is about pride and the second one is just a silly one that I borrowed from Beth's blog. Both videos have to do with change. Watch this first video before reading any of the comments because I have posted a comment about it right away that will give away the punch line.

an old video but still funny!

Download the original: uss_montana.wmv (2.0 MB)

This next one is sort of cute when you click on the play button, but what really got me laughing was when I started zooming the mouse quickly around Obama's head and watching his eyes follow the mouse. I couldn't stop laughing cause I thought he looked so silly. I guess it doesn't take much sometimes to make me feel amused. Be sure and notice the flames in the back ground.

I have no idea why I ended up with two copies of this. I don't know how to fix it. Nor do I know how to make the above video any smaller. Oh well.
If you want to see the stuff on the right a little better than just click on the title of one of the other posts.

Click on the play button to hear

Get a Voki now!

The comment section of this post contains some interesting discussion on the subject of change.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Growing and Evolving Blog

I'm hoping that those who read my blog are not going to think it too strange if I keep coming back to the subject of what it is like to blog. Hopefully, you will all just conclude "Oh, that's just Lista. That's what she does."

I keep coming back to the question of what the purpose is for my blog because it appears to keep changing. If my only goal was for the sake of friendship, I could accomplish this by commenting on other people's blogs and would not need to have a blog of my own.

At first, I thought that this was going to be a Political blog with the goal of expressing my opinion and getting my voice heard, yet the Lord seems to keep moving me in the direction of the Spiritual.

One observation that I've made, though, is that a lot of you guys are more likely to comment on the Political, than on the Spiritual. I'm not sure why that is, yet it has brought me back to the original question again "What is the purpose of this blog." I've already decided that my purpose is not necessarily just to get lots of hits. I talked about this on an earlier post, Why do we Blog?

The question now is "What about comments?" Is my goal to get lots of comments? It seems that that would be a good goal, yet to be honest with you, I was actually enjoying the break from endless political debate. When ever I publish a Political Post, I have to be prepared for and in the mood for the debate that I know is going to take place, for after all, when I Post something Political, I seem to be drawn to that which is highly controversial. That's just my way.

What it actually comes down to is that I need to balance my goals against my fatigue and move along at a reasonable pace that accomplishes at least a little something, while at the same time not draining me of too much of my energy.

So what does a slow down in the comments mean anyway? Does that mean that you guys aren't reading it, or are you reading it and just not commenting because you don't know what to say? I don't have a hit counter, so I have no clue what is actually happening in relation to the number of hits on my blog.

Ok, so what about the Spiritual? In relation to this, I seem to keep coming back to something that I wrote in one of my posts that seems worth repeating again and again, so here it is again...

"The main difference between Democrats, Liberal Republicans and true Conservatives is what we believe to be the source of our strength. Democrats seem to believe that it is the government itself and want lots of it. Liberal Republicans seem to think that the source of our strength is the military. This idea is also incorrect. The real truth is that if we lose the conservative values that our country once treasured in her youth, no government program, nor even a very strong military, will be able to save us. This is why I fear greatly for our country.

"It's just like Ronald Reagan said, 'If we ever forget we are a nation under God, we will become a nation gone under'. May God help and have mercy on this country."

The above two paragraphs came from my post entitled "Quotes from Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan". This post also includes part of the speech that Mitt Romney gave when he dropped out of the presidential race.

When I begin to realize the reality that our influence over the political climate in this country is sort of limited and as I remember what I said in this earlier post as I have repeated for you above; as I think on these things, I began to think that maybe the Spiritual is where it's really at and not just the Political, so my goal now is to get my voice heard in both the Political and the Spiritual realm.

Aside from making friends and also getting my voice heard, is there still more?

This is the point at which I begin to realize that the experience of blogging produces personal benefits as well. As I post, comment and also respond to other people's posts and comments on my own blog and others, I find myself changing and growing to an extent that can actually result is some growing pains. As I grow and my perspective on things changes, my blog slows down, yet maybe this is a very important part of the process. I blog for the sake of my own learning and growth.

Once again, it seems that if we post too frequently and quickly, we may miss out on some of the thought processes that contribute to our own growth and make us stronger, wiser and better people, with a greater understanding and appreciation of people and of our would. Shouldn't we all take the time to stop and smell the roses, as well as evaluate and think about all that we write and read. More is not necessarily better. When life moves along too quickly, it just becomes a lot of empty clutter, lacking depth and meaning.

If one of the goals of my blog is for the sake of my own personal learning and growth, perhaps it wouldn't be so wrong for me to occasionally just post my thoughts about any issue at all that I am currently working on in my mind and heart and if my goal is nothing more than personal learning and growth, than I guess it doesn't matter so much how many comments or hits I get.

There are people who have told me that sometimes I think too much, yet I guess I'd rather be that way, than to be one that doesn't think at all.

I guess what is comes down to is that this blog appears to have more than one purpose and perhaps will eventually be just as diverse as the heart of it's author.

P.S. - If you are interested in one aspect of my blog more than another, I'd encourage you to go to the link on the right, under the heading "Favorite Ramblings" and click on the link "All of my Posts Organized by Category".