Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why Fight It

There is so much evil in the world, everywhere you turn. As I was driving from the library to the store I flipped past a radio program where they were discussing human trafficking. I did not want to hear about it. I feel like I can not handle one more thing at this point. It is as though there is an avalanche about to happen in my brain and one more grain of sadness will topple my sanity. That is, except that I know there is a God, and He does have things in hand.

I know a lot of people can't understand how He can even let these things happen. But I contend that it is we who let them happen. God doesn't want people to hurt other people, as He has stated clearly in His Word, and yet we do it anyway. He has commanded us to protect the weak, the vulnerable, and we don't. The point I am getting to is this: we have to keep on fighting evil, because evil will not stop, will never rest, and when we stop fighting we give up ground. By fighting against evil, which we are equipped to do, we are carrying out God's desire not to let these things happen.

My son is in Afghanistan, fighting for at least two reasons I am aware of. One is that we were attacked, on our own soil, by terrorists who might consider that area a safe-haven were we not there. I truly do not understand how people in this country can have already forgotten the 9-11 attacks and cannot realize that what our military has done and is doing is to protect us from similar attacks. If this battle can be fought on the enemy's territory, isn't that better for us? Do we really need bombs to be going off in our neighborhoods to realize that we have an enemy who has vowed repeatedly to destroy us?

Another reason he is there is to help protect the innocent people of that area. It may be hard to understand what it's like to be in a situation so desperate as many many people in the world are. I began to understand when I saw "Hotel Rwanda." Another movie which expresses the extreme evils we are fighting in Afghanistan is "The Kite Runner." If we are so blessed, so rich, so powerful as a nation, don't we have a duty to rescue others who are suffering? We have the capability. Further, we have men and women who want to do it. Even if it means laying down their lives.

There are many humanitarian efforts going on I know, and of course those are necessary, but the bad guys are always going to be there. They are not going to just be nice. We need soldiers and weapons and we have to be willing to fight. We cannot even offer humanitarian aid without soldiers around to make sure it is received.

I am well aware that there are oppressed peoples all over the world. We can't save everybody. But I have three thoughts on that subject. One, we are already in Afghanistan, why cut and run, or even worse, why fail, why lose when we can win? While politicians and pundits bat around what we are to do, the Generals, the ones who are there and actually know what's going on are saying loudly and clearly, "We need more troops!" Can you imagine if we didn't give it our all in World War II? The enemy is giving it their all. Why aren't we?

Second, if we want to avoid future struggles with nations such as Iran, we need to be strong. We need to send the message that we will fight, and we will win. We cannot afford to be cowardly and indecisive. We must stand up and stand firm.

Third, remember the story about the lady saving the starfish on the beach?

A traveler was walking along a beach when he saw a woman scooping up starfish off the sand and tossing them into the waves. Curious, he asked her what she was doing. The woman replied "When the tide goes out it leaves these starfish stranded on the beach. They will dry up and die before the tide comes back in, so I am throwing them back into the sea where they can live."

The traveler then asked her "But this beach is miles long and there are hundreds of stranded starfish, many will die before you reach them - do you really think throwing back a few starfish is really going to make a difference?"

The woman picked up a starfish and looked at it, then she threw it into the waves. "It makes a difference to this one" she said.

In God's eyes, even one person is precious in His sight, and we must never give up fighting for that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"Quoc" is the nickname my older boys gave me when they were younger. It stands for "Queen of Complaints." Not so complimentary, right? Being a homeschool family we are, or were, pretty close. I am not one to hide my feelings anyway and so maybe the boys knew a little bit too much of what was going on at times. Whether it was at church, or the library, or a restaurant, or a store; if there was something I had a problem with, I let whomever know about it. After all, that is what the Bible says to do--go directly to the person you have a problem with.

Of course, that could be at times embarrassing to kids, hence the name "Quoc." They would caricaturize me as a crazed grumpy old lady charging menacingly at, let's just say, the Pastor of our church, with him muttering under his breath, "Oh boy, here comes "Quoc" again!" Well I don't know, maybe he was saying that! I really tried not to be crabby, but I admit sometimes it may have come across that way. It didn't seem to affect anything at church though, or the library, or the public school when we had foster kids.

But, where it has paid off is in the world of commerce. In those restaurants and stores where, being non publicly-funded, they understand who the customer is. Well, church is sort of out of either category, but it needed to be included in this discussion.

For example, just today I received an email that I would be getting a free box of chocolates to replace one I had bought which arrived slightly squashed. They were delicious still, but a huge part of the appeal of a box of assorted chocolates is the appearance. I sent the company a note describing the problem, only to suggest that they figure out a better way of packaging, not asking for anything. But they volunteered the new box. Who am I to complain? ;)

I've also been awarded a $20 coupon for merely suggesting that a delicious meal at a fine restaurant was put off-kilter by an unkempt washroom. And there have been many other times when my "complaining" skills have paid off. But, let me say, that I wasn't being rude or unreasonable. I was actually trying to be helpful.

I am in favor of businesses succeeding, of schools and libraries being excellent, and of churches being what they should. I don't just "complain" to be the squeaky wheel. I like to make suggestions based on my observations, and therefore think I "Quomsbomo" would be a more suitable nickname for me. Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Well, I do have another grown son to write about. He was the baby of the family for 16 years, until I had another baby boy at age 40. Poor kid, we always called him pet names like "Bubbles" and "Bobo" even when he was way too old for that. We couldn't help it. He was so silly and cute when he was little, and I guess we always just thought of him that way.

He is an artist, and pretty much independent of the family these days. There may be many reasons for this, none of which make me feel any better about it.

I knew things about my babies the moment I first saw them. I knew this boy was gifted. Well maybe it wasn't the first moment with him. It was a particularly rough delivery. I've had four c-sections, two good, two bad. They went good, bad, good, bad, which may partially explain the huge gap.

He was always obsessed with monsters and the dark side. He also exhibited his artistic creativity at a very early age. Even as a toddler he would make up puns and clever jokes, and sculptures with found objects. He loved to make things out of cardboard and tape. I would save all our recycleables for him in a big box. At birthdays and Christmas he would get rolls of tape. We discovered a special kind of scissors, after he broke several regular pair. We called them "cardboard cutters" and I think they were actually made for paramedics. We originally found them I think at American Science Surplus, one of my son's favorite stores. They had all sorts of weird stuff in there.

He really did make some amazing things out of garbage. He actually made a working pinball machine once. I think the balls were wads of rolled up masking tape...He also made really cute pop-up cards and never forgot anyone's birthday or Mother's & Father's Days. He was a sweetheart, with a soft little voice that I loved to hear sing. But he was also crazy and wacky and really funny. He was forever wearing some get-up. He'd have on a coonskin cap, sunglasses, armor, a backpack & moon boots, or some comparable attire.

Anyway, I also wrote a poem about him when he was a baby.


Fat-cheeked two-toothed little thing
Crawling at me like a maniac

What amazes me most
Is how you really need me.

Wise baby
Watching you know all
That you do
I feel you've always been here.

Einstein haired sweaty baby
Curling your toes in glee,

You may be
A budding genius,
My funny valentine.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I just went to find the poem I wrote about my oldest son as a young mom, and also found a poem I didn't even know I had written more recently about Lou. So, I'll post them both. I am not a good writer, but in college I had a lecherous professor who tricked me into thinking otherwise. Anyhow, I've written some not-particularly-good poetry, but it expresses some of what I feel and I'd like to share it.


Birth, the final frontier--

What surprised me most
About you is that
You are so earthen.

Pink breath baby,
You erase all doubts
About whole hearted love

Each day swelling now

Coming back to myself with a new friend,
Wanting you to like what I liked
Seeing you to be different,
You offer me your bottle

Traveling the map of milestones
First tooth, first step...
None of it is quite as thrilling as
The day to day living with you.

How I Miss Lou

Part of me died with you
It is just black there
Why didn't I know that before

You were the one I could
Show my work to
I wanted to be your favorite

You were my model
I miss you so much
Why was I so guarded

Our relationship seemed distant
But now my heart tells me different
I wish I knew you better

I don't know where you are
I want so much to see you again
I want you to be in Heaven

There is nowhere to go with this hurt
No one to talk to
No escape

Army Mom

My oldest son is in the Army. This is a photo of him at the time of his commissioning, as he graduated from college. Those are not his children, they are his brothers. What is most crazy about this is that I have two kids, ages 24 & 23; and two, ages 7 & 3. Quite a gap. Same marriage.

Anyway, my big guy is currently in Afghanistan, having left his new bride this year, just a couple months after their wedding. I really couldn't be prouder of him even if he were the president of the United States. He is there because he wants to be. He wants to do that hard job, and feels called to do it. After I saw "Hotel Rwanda" I understood much better why he is doing this. Not that I was ever against it, it's just that I've have had my head in the sand most of my life and especially in matters of the military. Like, for instance, not growing up a Christian either, I didn't even know that Calvary and cavalry were different words, much less what either of them meant.

I wanted today's blog to be a funny one, but there really isn't anything funny about it. My son & I have a very close relationship, and fortunately, we can talk fairly often via instant message or even phonecalls. He is doing well so far. I have sent many packages and letters and learned that you can send stuff to soldiers just via the regular mail. You don't even need special stamps. Also, I have been forced to become much more serious in my prayer life which is always a good thing. I know that I have a real part to play in what is going on over there, and it is in lifting up our men and women before God, and asking my friends and family to do the same.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I started feeling bad about knocking the French last time, especially as I was just emphasizing to a friend the other day that I am not a racist. Anyway, Lou was a fantastic cook, and from her I learned to love to eat many things that might be attributed in some way to her bit of Frenchiness. I don't know, maybe.

Anyway, when I met my husband, things that to me were totally normal good things to eat he found somewhat exotic. He comes from a Dutch heritage. In fact, his ancestry is 100% Dutch. Pretty unusual around here. For instance, he had never eaten eggplant or artichokes. Lou introduced me to eggplant, which I love, and many other things that without her influence I'm sure would not be standard fare for my family. I liked just about everything she made, even tomato aspic. I don't actually make that but I do make eggplant a lot, and corn pone (which she taught me how to make)--remember, she was also from the south. She could make the best fried chicken which is a skill that eludes me. There were many other dishes she made, and because of her I also like okra.

My Grandma Lou was a very gifted painter. Unfortunately, her husband died of a heart attack at age 45, leaving her with 5 kids and the family business. Not much time for painting after that. I didn't even know she played the piano. She was very up on etiquette, which used to annoy me when I was young and stupid. Now that I've encountered plenty of the lack thereof, I see her point. When I was little she used to drink bourbon, I think, and whenever I smell that (which believe me is infrequently) I remember her. Also the smell of applesauce, and red linoleum kitchen floors. These are very early childhood memories etched into the core of my being.

Lou was an absolutely beautiful woman, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was a little above average height, I think, and had great legs. I always agreed with her taste in clothes. Classic. She loved Chopin, which I still don't get, but is not surprising because she was very smart and it's probably just over my head. She did crossword puzzles all the time. Dell crossword puzzles, and "Dell Crosswords Crosswords" is the only magazine I subscribe to.

Lou told me when I was a young mom to read the Bible to my children, for cultural literacy. I did so, and guess what? In the process I found out that it wasn't just a book of myths, but the Truth, and the answer to my deepest needs. Thank you, Lou. Miss you. Love you.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I've been thinking about my Grandma Lou lately. She died a few years ago and I really miss her. I was up in Michigan at our summer cottage and found an old book she had given me. She had written inside the cover that she had loved it as a child, and that my great-grandma had helped her find a copy for me. The book is entitled "Lady Jane," and it is a weird book, but my Grandma was from Louisiana and had a bit of French weirdness to her. Not in a bad way, just very unfamiliar to me. I really don't get the French. They eat disgusting things and like strange entertainment. My husband knows what I'm talking about. Our code word for it is "harlequin." But I digress.

The fact that she mentioned my great-grandma, Grandmother Raymond, made it even worse. The tears began to flow. How I wish I could have known them both so much better! They were two remarkable women. What is really stupid is that the main thing that kept me from a closer relationship with Lou is that I am ridiculously shy. Even with my own Grandma! Grandmother Raymond & I actually corresponded by letters (she was still in Louisiana) until I became such a self-absorbed jerk somewhere in my teens that I just stopped.

I remember once Grandmother Raymond sent me a recipe for cheese puffs. She warned me that the amount of cayenne was too much and to cut it way down. Of course being the macho fourteen-or-so that I was I thought to myself, "Yeah, well, she's in her 80's, so she probably can't handle it." I put in the full measure of cayenne. MAN! Were those things HOT!

But that was Lou's mother. Lou was my Dad's mother. Lou was my role model, but I seriously did not realize it until after she died. You can try to imagine all you want how you're going to feel after someone dies, but you never really know until they do.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


"I have all these cool thoughts running through my head..." was how the note started. It was to my closest friend Diane and we were on our 'spiritual journey' together. We would write each other letters and have long discussions about our 'discoveries' --I was just reading today on somebody's fb a quote about how there's a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous.

The letter went on, recalling past conversations with cryptic things like, "...and the smiling people,"..." and the washing machine"...."and the photo booth..." all referencing remarkable insights we had had in our new cosmic awareness, set within the framework of a homeschool mom's day to day life.

At some level I must have known how stupid (yet sincerely stupid) my musings were. I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant with my family when I realized that the note, written on yellow legal paper, had slipped out of my purse. As I wandered about, scanning the floor of the restaurant, a woman asked me, "Are you looking for that piece of paper?" It was with great horror that I saw her point toward a table where a group of Chinese waiters were sitting around, laughing hysterically as one read my letter aloud.

I don't know what came over me, why I didn't just go back to my seat and pretend I knew nothing about that dumb letter; but I stomped across the restaurant, ripped the yellow paper out of the stunned waiter's hands, and stormed back to my table.

I suppose it really wasn't such a big deal, looking back. Such a thing probably wouldn't even embarrass me now. But I was younger. And anyway my note was probably at least as insightful as the fortune cookies.