I promised myself that I wouldn’t get carried away with political issues on this blog, but Rush Limbaugh made such an insensitive and stupid comment today – that I could hardly let it pass without commenting. If you hadn’t heard, Michael J. Fox recently made a commercial supporting a Missouri senatorial candidate who supports stem-cell research. Fox is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and was visibly shaking due to the effects of his disease. Research done with increased accessibility to stem-cells could possibly improve the chances of treating horrible diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Rush Limbaugh, in his infinite lack of wisdom, made the statement that Michael J. Fox was exaggerating his symptoms and doing a good job of “acting”. What an idiot! I’m glad that Fox is joining Nancy Reagan and others who have spoken out against the current administration’s backward stance on limiting federally-funded research in this country to a handful of existing stem-cell lines. A few years ago Jesse was invited by our state legislator to testify in favor of stem-cell research at UNO’s Med Center. He did speak out at the legislative hearing and referred to Grandma Agnes’ decade-long decline due to Alzheimer’s disease. In my opinion, stem-cell research should be given a chance to help those who suffer from these devasting illnesses while, at the same time, giving some meaning, worth and honor to the existance of abandoned frozen embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. One thing stem-cell research cannot do though is to cure the big mouth and stupid comments of narrow-minded people like Mr. Limbuagh!
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Since I posted a picture of one of our kittens, I thought I should put a picture up of the most distinctive cat on the farm – a cat we call the Watching Cat. Although he’s not nearly as cute as the kittens, he does have quite a personality. Several years ago as a young tom cat, he had the very annoying habit of “marking” just about everything. That included our back door, the bottom of the grill, and…well, yeah, you can probably see how that got annoying. When we were enclosing our front porch to make what is now our sunroom, the carpenters were working with the new decorative header that was to go above our two front French doors. They needed something that they left in town, so they left for about 15-20 minutes. When they came back, sure enough, the smell told them that Watching Cat had been there…and left his mark on the new wooden header! So that got Francis to thinking that something needed to be done. To make a long story short, Francis used some little rubber bands that helped to turn the Watching Cat into a more well-mannered, but less masculine, tom cat. Let’s just say that he never really knew what happened to him.
Now our Watching Cat just sort of monitors everything that happens here on the farm by, well…watching us! The picture below shows him as I found him this morning when I got up…peering through the front door just to see what we were going to be doing today. He basically watches us 24-7. He has figured out how to perch on just about every window sill and sometimes even hangs from the screen so that he can spy on us. We have joked about outfitting him with a tiny camera attached to the top of his head – it might be interested to see ourselves from his vantage point.
This past summer I went into town one day for an hour or so, leaving the television on in the living room. When I returned I was surprised to see that the Watching Cat had somehow let himself into the house and was lying contentedly in my recliner – watching The Price Is Right! What a cat!
A few weeks ago we got up earlier than usual on a Saturday morning and were rushing around the house getting ready to go someplace. Francis heard a commotion at the bathroom window as he was shaving and turned to see the Watching Cat clinging to the screen peeking in on him. A few minutes later Watching Cat was on the deck by the patio door meowing loudly seemingly trying to get my attention. I mentioned it to Francis and he said “Oops! I forgot to feed the cats!”. We think Watching Cat surveyed the situation, saw that we were hurrying around more than usual, and thought he’d better get our attention or he wasn’t going to get his breakfast! What a cat!
Sometimes some of life’s most important lessons come to us in unexpected ways. Yesterday I picked up a free booklet and TV schedule in the local pharmacy. Thumbing through it, I found an inspirational saying about forgiveness that seems worthy of repeating. Here it is: When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future. I think that makes a lot of sense. To me, forgiveness in no way means that what happened in the past was right or OK. Forgiveness does not mean that you forget what happened, either. Forgiveness just means that you are willing to let go of it and move on. You can release the anger, hurt or hatred that you may have been harboring in your heart and continue on without lugging all of the garbage of life along with you. Holding a grudge against someone and refusing to forgive them only hurts you in the long run… the person you refuse to forgive may not know or even care whether you have forgiven them or not! Forgiveness is for your own good, not theirs.
Tragic events this past week in the Amish community in Lancaster County, PA have shown us an incredible example of forgiveness. In high school, I had the opportunity to visit an Amish farm in Lancaster Co., PA most likely not far from the site of the unimaginable horror this week at that little country school. Maybe that visit is why I so admire the strength and compassion demonstrated by the Amish. That the Amish families and friends of those innocent girls who were killed could actually forgive the person who committed that horrific crime is the most powerful demonstration of forgiveness that I could imagine. Their forgiveness cannot change what happened, but it can release them from the bondage of hurt and hatred and let them get on with living.
OK…now forgive me for being so serious and somber! To leave you on a lighter note, here’s a picture of one of the many kittens that patrol our farmyard.
This past week was Homecoming Week at school. It was a busy week that was hectic but lots of fun for the kids. I’m the Student Council sponsor, so I helped the kids plan the week – but in all honesty, they did most of the work in getting everything organized. Everyday was a different dress-up day for the students and teachers alike – we had a toga day, ninja day, celebrity day, pair day and moroon and white spirit day. Friday was the high point of the entire week with a parade, downtown pep rally, football game, royalty coronation, and finally the homecoming dance. It was a fun week and everything went off as planned, but I was sort of glad to see Homecoming Week winding down!
Saturday brought a bit of down time for me…but not too much. Jesse and Shawn were both here on Friday night for the Homecoming game and both stayed over until Saturday. Shawn’s parents brought his sister up for us to take Senior pictures on Saturday afternoon. We got the pictures done and they turned out pretty well, even though there were about, oh, a hundred million hungry mosquitos outdoors on Saturday. We had a bit of a hard time taking pictures because we had to keep shooing the mosquitos off of Calyn’s face so we could snap the picture!
This morning Kalie and I set out for Omaha around 7am. A few weeks ago Kalie tried out for the NASC (Nebraska Association of Student Councils) state staff and was selected. So today was her first of many training sessions for the new staffers – this time held at the Creighton University campus in Omaha. Since I was missing church at home, I decided to make a quick call to our friends and former pastor, Mike and Kathy Jo, in Omaha to see what time their church started. Well, the timing was perfect and I was able to attend services at the Living Faith Methodist Church in Omaha where Mike is the current pastor. What a joy it was! Kathy Jo has such a warmth about her and Mike has the ability to speak to the congregation as if he were conversing with each and every person one-on-one. He speaks from the heart and relates his sermon to real-life experiences. I enjoyed his sermon and the contemporary music so much. Annie was away at college, but it was good to see Jill, David and Nate. Even though I had never been in their church before, I felt like I had come home!!! What a great ending to my “Homecoming Week!”
The scripture reading was pretty amazing too. At least it really spoke to me. For those of you who like to look things up in the Bible, it was Romans 12:1-2, 9-12. It was about forgiveness, turning the other cheek and repaying evil with kindness. “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” A good reminder for all of us! Mike joked in his sermon that as a minister, people expect him to do good things because he actually gets paid for being good. The rest of us are good for nothing. (get it??)