Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Celebrating mediocrity

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Today’s post was supposed to be a revamping of a Dr. Seuss classic. I’ve got the intro written, but when I sat down for a rewrite, I just wasn’t feeling it. Since I believe any parody worth doing is worth doing well, I’m going to let it stew for awhile and see if I can get it right. Instead, I thought I’d share some personal observations from an awards ceremony I attended at my daughter’s school today.

The good news is that we have a high level of parent involvement and participation at the elementary school my daughter attends. The bad news is that all that parent involvement and participation makes it virtually impossible to find a good parking spot for any school event unless you get there at least 30 minutes ahead of time. I was fortunate to arrive early enough to find a spot to parallel park among the other cars using the carpool lane as a makeshift parking lot. Parents arriving just moments after me were forced to park illegally in the field across from the school. Did I mention that this awards ceremony was ONLY for the 4th grade class? (Yeah, yeah. I know–I have no reason to gripe about parents showing up to support their kids. But hey, it was hot outside. And I was in a dress. You feel sorry for me already, don’t you?)

But I’m not here to complain about the school’s inadequate parking.

I’m here to complain about our inadequate expectations for our children.

When I was in elementary school, I made all A’s and B’s because that’s what was expected of me and because if I brought home a report card with a C, I was expected to come home from school each day and study whatever subject (let’s call it “math”) I had earned that C in until I brought it back up to an A or B. There was no such thing as “A and B honor roll” and I didn’t get a certificate of achievement at the end of the year. There were always kids who struggled in school; kids who failed a grade or two. Heck, I graduated high school with a guy who was just shy of his twenty-first birthday, but when he walked across that stage and received his diploma, he had earned it.

Nowadays we’re so concerned about “no child left behind” that administrators have teachers teaching our kids how to pass standardized tests, not how to think for themselves. Failing kids means loss of federal funding, so educators do everything they can to make sure kids don’t fail those tests. Oftentimes memorization and rote thinking takes the place of the experience of learning how to learn, comprehend and retain knowledge. How else could you possibly explain how a person could graduate high school without knowing how to read?

What I’m about to say may be shocking and unacceptable to some, but here goes:

We need to allow our children to fail.

In school, in sports, in relationships, in life. Allow them small failures when they’re young and they will be equipped to handle and even avoid large failures when they’re older. Parents and educators need to stop saving them all the time, telling them, “It’s okay this time, but don’t do it again.” Because you know what? If you do that, it’s NOT okay and they WILL do it again. We’re indoctrinating an entire generation of dependence and entitlement, evidenced by an attitude that everything good in their lives is because they deserve it and everything bad is someone else’s fault. (I blame Shel Silverstein and The Giving Tree for much of this, but that’s a whole other rant.)

Today I attended a 4th grade awards ceremony in my daughter’s classroom. Every class in every grade level has one. Each child stands up and shakes the teacher’s hands while three awards are announced. Most kids have more, but only three of their choosing are allowed to be announced. Why? Because three is the minimum number any child can receive. Essentially, if the child has a pulse, is registered at the school and shows up for class they get an award. Which means my daughter’s classmate who has never made less than a 98 on anything he’s ever turned in, who reads at a high school level and is being tested to skip the 5th grade is equally recognized with the kid who rarely turns in his work and is a constant disruption in class. The star athlete, the exceptional artist, the accomplished musician and even the class clown don’t have their exceptional abilities recognized above anyone else for fear of damaging anyone’s precious self-esteem.

When everyone and everything is exceptional, no one or nothing really is.

That’s unacceptable.

Conflicted (Repost)

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I’m a big fan of words. Not individual words per se, but when words are strung together in such a way as to affect us deeply. Whether the results manifests themselves in a good laugh, a good cry, a call to action, or some combination of all of the above. Words are powerful.

Two forms of word play I have particular affection for are quotes and song lyrics. I don’t know why. I’ve just always admired a good quote. A small collection of words that conveys a powerful concept. As for lyrics, I think there’s something magical about combining thoughtful words and music, especially when it seems as though the songwriter has somehow peeked into your heart and found a piece of your own story.

Yesterday, with a song that’s been playing in my head for the past several days, I came across a quote that was in opposition with said song. It left me feeling conflicted, because I tend to agree that the words in the song and the words in the quote were both true, even though they were at odds with one another. Here’s the quote:

“It’s better to keep grief inside. Grief inside works like bees or ants, building curious and perfect structures, complicating you. Grief outside means you want something from someone, and chances are good you won’t get it.”
~ Hilary Thayer Hamann (Anthropology of an American Girl)

As I spoke these words aloud though, they felt bitter in my mouth. Grief outside often does indeed mean you want something from someone, and the stiff upper lip side of me tends to agree. “Stop whining,” it says. “Don’t burden someone else with your problems.There are certain things that must remain unsaid. Bury them deep and no one gets hurt,” and on and on.

But those aren’t the words I want to believe. The words I want to believe are these:

Say (by John Mayer)

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ’em in quotations

Say what you need to say [x8]

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say [x8]

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say [x24]

I’ve thought about both the quote and the song quite a bit. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the quote comes from someone who builds walls around herself. Walls built in an effort to insulate her from getting hurt again. I understand that. But I also think those walls don’t really insulate you from pain. They just keep others out, and by doing so, allow you to focus on yourself almost exclusively. (A sure recipe for misery.) They’re also pretty painful for those who are trying to get through them to reach you. And sometimes words left unsaid are every bit as painful as the ones that are. Sometimes moreso.

Are you holding back words you need to share?
“I’m proud of you.”
“I believe in you.”
“You make me smile.”
“Thank you for being there for me.”
“I know this is difficult, but I’m here for you.”
“I wish things could be different.”
“Things are going to be okay.”
“I love you.”
“Hang on.”

I think I’ll vote for reaching out and saying what needs saying. It just might be exactly what someone needs to hear today…

Why I hate writing, Part 8: The craft

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If you’ve been following along at home, you may have realized by now that I don’t really hate writing. I mostly just hate bad writing, which technically would include much of my own. But I’m not very technical. Or humble. So my writing doesn’t count. Snort!

I guess there are several ways to define what constitutes good writing from bad, and what I consider great writing you might consider very lacking indeed. Stephen King has been poo-pooed in many literary circles. Personally, I think he’s a genius, and I’d be willing to bet that many of his harshest critics have never even bothered to read any of his books or simply suffer from professional jealousy. For those who think he’s sold out and writes formulaic novels and short stories to pad his bank account, again I would encourage you to read at least three of his books, and if you’ve read his books and come away thinking they’re only horror stories, I don’t suppose there’s anything I could say to you to convince you otherwise. You just don’t get it. Despite being taken lightly by the literary world, Mr. King takes the craft of writing very seriously. I love his approach to writing, and I love what he says about the craft in the Afterword of Full Dark, No Stars. The following excerpts are just a few highlights from the Great One:

When people ask me about my work, I have developed a habit of skirting the subject with jokes and humorous personal anecdotes (which you can’t quite trust; never trust anything a fiction writer says about himself). It’s a form of deflection and a little more diplomatic than the way my Yankee forebears might have answered such questions: It’s none of your business, chummy. But beneath the jokes, I take what I do very seriously, and have since I wrote my first novel, The Long Walk, at the age of eighteen.

I have little patience with writers who don’t take the job of writing seriously, and none at all with those who see the art of story-fiction as essentially worn out. It’s not worn out, and it’s not a literary game. It’s one of the vital ways in which we try to make sense of our lives, and the often terrible world we see around us. It’s the way we answer the, How can such things be? Stories that sometimes–not always, but sometimes–there’s a reason.

From the start…I felt that the best fiction was both propulsive and assaultive. It gets in your face. Sometimes it shouts in your face. I have no quarrel with literary fiction, which usually concerns itself with extraordinary people in ordinary situations, but as both a reader and a writer, I’m much more interested by ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I want to provoke an emotional, even visceral, reaction in my readers. Making them think as they read is not my deal…if the tale is good enough and the characters vivid enough, thinking will supplant emotion when the tale has been told and the book set aside (sometimes with relief)…

Here’s something else I believe: if you’re going into a very dark place…then you should take a bright light, and shine it on everything. If you don’t want to see, why in God’s name would you dare the dark at all? The great naturalist writer Frank Norris has always been one of my literary idols, and I’ve kept what he said on this subject in mind for over 40 years: “I never truckled; I never took off my hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. By God, I told them the truth.”

But Steve, you say, you’ve made a great many pennies during your career, and as for truth…that’s variable, isn’t it? Yes, I’ve made a good amount of money writing my stories, but the money was a side effect, never the goal. Writing fiction for money is a mug’s game. And sure, truth is in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to fiction, the writer’s only responsibility is to look for the truth inside his own heart. It won’t always be the reader’s truth, or the critic’s truth, but as long as it’s the writer’s truth–as long as he or she doesn’t truckle, or hold out his or her hat to Fashion–all is well. For writers who knowingly lie, for those who substitute unbelievable human behavior for the way people really act, I have nothing but contempt. Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do–to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.

~ Stephen King, Bangor, Maine, December 23 2009

There is a vunerability in King’s writing which, for me, all great writers must possess. Or as another one of my favorite writers would say, you have to be willing to write naked. Do that and you’ll have at least one loyal fan of your writing, and many more I suspect.

What say you? How do you define great writing? Do you know why you think it’s great, or do you just know?

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t read Full Dark, No Stars and are considering reading it after this post, fair warning: It is very dark. Probably some of the darkest stories I’ve read from King, and that’s saying something. But like he said, “If you don’t want to see, why in God’s name would you dare the dark at all?”

When love finds you

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Despite the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride in her gown before the wedding, he has seen her already.

In the interest of time, the couple decided to get the wedding party pictures taken before the ceremony.

Still, when the doors opened and her father walked her down the aisle, his jaw dropped, his eyes lit up, and even though I did not know this man, (I had shaken his hand for the first time just 24 hour prior) the look on his face told me all I needed to know. This man was utterly and completely in love. I can’t say for sure this was the best day of his life, but judging from that face, I would be willing to bet it made the top three. If he was nervous, it didn’t show. He looked as if he was exactly where he wanted to be.

Sitting on the bride’s side, I only caught a brief glimpse of her before they turned and faced the minister, but the discreet passing of a tissue from maid of honor to bride and the cracking of the bride’s voice told me she was overcome with emotion. A princess whose knight in shining armor had finally arrived.

His face I could see. The smile never left his lips. In a church full of family and friends, in those moments she was the only one who mattered.

What I witnessed Saturday was only the beginning of what I hope will be a lifelong love affair. I pray they remember this day when things aren’t so perfect, because anyone who’s been in love will tell you there will be many imperfect days, but the perfect days–even the perfect moments–are so worth it.

I know I’ve posted the following passage before, so I hope you don’t mind me sharing it again. It’s one of my favorites:

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you,

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in the their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;

And he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.
Or to be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

~ Kahlil Gibran
January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931

Why I hate writing, Part 7: Show, don’t tell

Show, don’t tell is an admonition to fiction writers to write in a manner that allows the reader to experience the story through a character’s action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the narrator’s exposition, summarization, and description. The advice is not to be heavy-handed, but to allow issues to emerge from the text instead, and applies to non-fiction writing too. Source: Wikipedia

I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life. I always knew whether or not I liked certain authors, I just couldn’t tell you why or why not. It wasn’t until I started working with a real writer, when he began sharing some of the rules he’d learned through research and experience that I started to identify the reasons why certain writing didn’t appeal to me.

One of my biggest pet peeves in writing is the breaking of the “Show, don’t tell rule”. Granted, this rule primarily applies to fiction, but I still think all writers should keep this in mind when addressing their readers. It’s the whole “Give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish” principle.  Okay, maybe not that exactly, but close enough…

For example:

Tell: My daschund  is a jerk because he wakes me up to pee.

Show: Almost every night as my eyelids begin to droop and the book in my hand begins its descent into the space between the pillows, I hear the low, guttural growl coming from the end of the bed. What was moments before a perfectly still mound of black and brown fur is now two beady brown eyes staring down its considerable snout at me. “Outside?”, I ask as the dog bounds off the bed into the night.

For the sake of economy of words, the tell is the best choice. But hopefully you get a clearer picture of why my dog is a jerk from the show.

Got it? Good.

For me, the best thing about the show rather than the tell is the opportunity for the reader to use his or her imagination to fill in the the blanks. It’s not often when a police report via a news story allows the reader that kind of freedom, so when my friend Randy emailed me the following clipping, I had to share it:

I realize the image is probably too small to read, so allow me to transcribe the words of the reporter:

Orville Smith, a store manager for Best Buy in Augusta, Ga., told police he observed a male customer, later identified as Tyrone Jackson of Augusta, Ga., on survellience camera putting a laptop computer under his jacket. When confronted, the man became irate, knocked down an employee, drew a knife and ran for the door.

Outside on the sidewalk were four Marines collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program. Smith said the Marines stopped the man, but he stabbed one of the Marines, Cpl. Phillip Duggan, in the back; the injury did not appear to be severe.

After Police and an ambulance arrived at the scene, Cpl. Duggan was transported for treatment.

“The subject was also transported to a local hospital with two broken arms, a broken ankle, a broken leg, several missing teeth, possible broken ribs, several contusions, assorted lacerations, a broken nose and a broken jaw…injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell off the curb after stabbing the Marine”, according to a police report.

Semper Fi…

(I did not independently verify the accuracy of this clipping, but even if it’s not real, I still think it’s a great example, don’t you?)

In case you missed the first six installments of Why I hate writing, you can find them here:

Why I hate writing, Part 1: Why I hate writers
Why I hate writing, Part 2: Publishing isn’t fair
Why I hate writing, Part 3: When writing hurts
Why I hate writing, Part 4: Critical acclaim vs book sales
Why I hate writing, Part 5: Fighting the Muse
Why I hate writing, Part 6: Metaphorically Speaking

Words with Friends: An idiot’s guide

After much nagging from a few online friends, I decided to download a free Words with Friends app onto my iPhone a few months ago. Of course, having never played Scrabble before, I had no clue what to do. In retrospect, I suppose I could have googled “How to play words with friends”, but that would have been entirely too obvious and logical.

Instead, I would open the app every few days and stare at it. I started a few games, but it kept telling me something about an invalid tile placement or some such nonsense. I’m sure whomever I was attempting to play with assumed a toddler had gotten hold of their mother’s cell phone, and if anyone who doesn’t read this blog asks, that’s the story I’m going with.

New screen for Words with Friends

Now, before you Scrabble/Words with Friends experts roll your eyes at me (some of you probably already are), let me explain how I interpreted this game screen.

  • The Star — Yeah. No idea what that was about. I didn’t realize your first word had to have one of the letters on that star. As a matter of fact, I thought one of the objects was to AVOID the star. (Welcome to my brain.)
  • DL, TL, DW, TW, et. al. — As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of acronyms, so my brain does not seek them out. Imagine my frustration when I would make a great word like hanDLe, or DWight or TWeet and it refused me. Stupid game…

So now do you see why I never got past the first round of this game? Fortunately, the lovely and talented Amy Nabors, aka @amykiane showed me the errors of my ways. Now I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being completely annihilated by friends and strangers alike! I’ve lost count of how many games I’ve played over the last two days, but I do know the results of every game completed. I’VE LOST EVERY SINGLE GAME! Even when kind people like 1357bob took pity on me and tried to give me opportunities to score more than 5 points per round:

So, there you have it. The complete idiot’s guide to Words with Friends. If you want to boost your ego by playing quite possibly the worst Words with Friends player in the history of the world, I’m Katdish10.

Memories from the road

When I saw that the topic for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival was “Road”, it reminded me of the last family road trip I took in November. And since many of us are planning some sort of road trip this summer, I thought it might be fun to revisit a post I wrote back in November. Sorry/you’re welcome.

Overheard on the way to Alabama

Happy day after Thanksgiving everyone! I’m enjoying a very relaxing extended weekend at one of my favorite places in the world: the beach. It matters not which beach, as long as I can sink my feet in where earth meets water, I’m happy. On this particular occassion, I find myself in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is beautiful and relaxing and wonderful. It’s also a 9 hour drive from my house.

Despite the DVD player, gameboys, iPods and books, nine hours is a long time for four people and a dog to spend in a car together without some interesting bits of conversations arising. The following are just a few snippets from said conversation on Wednesday:

“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Baytown, TX)

“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Beaumont, TX)

“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Orange, TX)

“You just went to the bathroom.”

“I couldn’t go last time.”

“I hope he’s not getting a bladder infection.”

“OH MY GOSH! I’m fine. How embarrassing…”

“Are we in Louisiana yet?”

“We’ll be in Louisiana in about 10 miles.”

“Are we in Louisiana yet?”

“In about 8 miles.”

“We’re in Louisiana.”

“How long until we get to Mississippi?”


“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“You’ll have to wait awhile. There’s no place to stop.”

“Were you able to pee the last time we stopped?”

“OH MY GOSH! Yes, Mom! How embarrassing.”

“Okay. Just checking. I wish you and your sister would coordinate your bathroom breaks a little better.”

“We’re in Mississippi.”

“Why is it called Mississippi?”

“I’m not sure. You should Google that on the computer.”

“What’s the state bird of Mississippi?”

“Don’t know.”

“What’s the state tree of Mississippi?”

“Don’t know.”

“What’s the…”

“Don’t know anything about Mississippi. Google it.”

“How long until we get to Alabama?”

“When we get there. And we’re playing the quiet game until we do.”

“What are we doing for dinner?”

“We’re going to Bea’s condo. She’s making dinner, but we’re going to drop off our stuff at the cottage we’re staying at first.”

“How long until we get to Bea’s condom?”





So, what did y’all do for Thanksgiving?

This repost is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Road, hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. For more posts on this topic, please visit his website,

The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 3

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Anniversary Gifts

She wanted a new mixer for their anniversary. Not the most romantic of gifts, but all the chefs on her favorite cooking shows have this mixer. She imagines all the wonderful cakes, cookies and pastries she could create if only she had the same mixer all the professionals use. Maybe start a business selling her creations. She’s been making baked goods for family and friends for years, but has always laughed off their suggestions that she should go into business for herself. “Taking care of my family is my business and it’s a full time job”, she tells everyone. But she dreams of doing what she tells everyone she doesn’t have time for, and she knows her husband understands this dream. They’ve never talked about it, but he knows how much she loves to bake; he’s aware of how many cooking shows are recorded on their DVR. He must. He complains about it constantly.

Instead of a mixer, her husband presents her with a canvas he’s painted–a portrait of her and their kids inspired by a photo he snapped at the Grand Canyon last summer. She tells him she loves it, how touched she is by such a thoughtful, personal gift. But she doesn’t love it. Painting is his hobby, not hers. If he’d thought of her instead of himself, he would have realized that she had her own dreams. None of which had anything to do with painting.

He wanted an easel and a new set of artist brushes for their anniversary. He works at the bank 40 hours a week, but only because he has a family to support. His wife often suggests that with his degree in fine art, perhaps the bank president would let him paint some canvases to replace the tacky reproductions currently hanging in the bank lobby. The first time she suggested it, he was excited about the possibility. It was only after he overheard his wife’s phone conversation with her sister that he realized she was being sarcastic. That she didn’t really think his art was good enough to hang in a small town bank lobby, let alone in any art gallery. Now when she makes that suggestion, he laughs and nods his head.  But it hurts just the same.

Instead of an easel and artist brushes, his wife gave him a new suit and tie. Dress for success she’d always heard. Besides, the senior loan officer at the bank was about to retire, and a promotion for her husband was a real possibility. Maybe being in a management position would make him happier at his job. Maybe even enough for him to put away his art supplies so they could reclaim the guest room back from his ever growing hobby. He tells her he loves it. She has the best taste in clothes, and he’s so grateful to have a wife who supports his career.

He spends the rest of the day painting dark clouds over the valley in his latest landscape.

And the elephants feed and grow.

image courtesy of

Editor’s Note: If this is the first post you’ve read in this series, you may want to check out The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 1 for further explanation.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Extreme Couponing

This is not a neatly stocked grocery shelf. It's a stockpile of canned goods in someone's home. (image courtesy of google images)

From TLC, the network that brought us Hoarding: Buried Alive, Four Weddings, I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant, Toddlers and Tiaras and other reality shows that make me either want to scream obscenities at my television or gouge my eyes out with a fork, comes a show about something called Extreme Couponing. Here’s the promo:

I don’t want to sound too flippant about this. I realize people are hurting financially, and I don’t begrudge anyone who is trying to save money where they can. I wish I were more disciplined when it came to grocery shopping. I can barely bring myself to go to the grocery store, let alone spend hours clipping coupons and planning meals to coincide with sale items. I admire people who do this. But some of the extreme savers go way beyond saving money on the household budget. Check out Nathan’s Six-figure stockpile:

Did you catch the part about having a 150 year supply of deodorant? And is it just me, or was this man just a little too giddy about possessing more things than he could possibly use in his lifetime? I don’t know who these people are. Chances are they’re great folks who happen to share a passion for saving money. But there’s something very unnerving to me about devoting entire rooms of your house to stockpiling groceries. I get the impression that what may have started out as a means to save money has become something very different. Dare I say an acceptable if not celebrated means of hoarding and idolatry?

What I would love to see, and have seen in some instances, is for people to take what they’ve learned to help others: homeless shelters, food pantries, victims of natural disasters. Can you imagine what an impact these folks could have on their local communities? It’s sort of mind boggling when you think about it.

If you or someone you know is an extreme couponer, please enlighten me. Am I wrong to feel repulsed by this? I just don’t understand how having 50 boxes of cake mix and 300 bottles of salad dressing is a good thing, even if you got it for free. There comes a point when the things we thought we owned begin to own us. And that’s not just true of these folks. We’re all in danger of this.

Oh, oh, oh it’s magic

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I have a friend who sees eye to eye with me on most important subjects: faith, responsibility, honor and what the all-time best line from a television show was (“I’m gonna need a hacksaw” – Jack Bauer, 24). But on one subject we disagree: magicians and magic shows.

He’s likes them.

I don’t.

Or at least I didn’t. My argument against magicians and magic shows is the premise. The audience understands that what they are about to witness isn’t really magic, it’s a series of illusions. Slights of hand and distraction created to fool you. In essence, I felt like you were paying someone to lie to you and to trick you. It never sat well with me, and I have held stubbornly to my stance on the subject.

I took an informal survey via Twitter and Facebook and asked others whether they liked magic/magicians, and why or why not. The majority opinion was that yes, they did. Many said they try and figure out how they pulled off the illusions, while my friend Helen said she didn’t want to know. She embraced the mystery. I still wasn’t completely dissuaded from my opinions on magicians and magic shows, but I was beginning to understand why many people enjoy them. The following is the most convincing argument for magic that I received:

“In a word, possibility. It’s like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. I don’t believe in their existence, but I believe in their possibility. I know it [magic] is an illusion. It’s always an illusion. But I also believe real magic is possible. Miracles are magic. And that sense of magic is something we just don’t have anymore.”

I want to believe in magic. I want to believe that miracles are still possible; that they aren’t relegated to biblical times. I want to know with my head that most magical things are illusions, but hold fast in my heart the hope that there’s a chance some are real. And so, I think I’ve actually changed my mind about magicians and magic shows. Which, if you know me at all, is a small miracle in and of itself. Do you believe in magic? In miracles?

In a Miracle (by Jonathan Butler)

I know you feel like letting go
You’ve suffered more than I could know
But if you’d seen the things that I’ve seen
Hold on my brother now,
It wont be long

Don’t think that He’s forgotten you
He’s by your side within you too
Through your worst fears
He’s right there
Waiting for you now
Waiting for you

He can make any desert bloom
In a heart like yours there’s room
for changes
and the change is coming soon
Don’t you know it’s just begun?
We’ll move that mountain with love

In a miracle

And all the things you used to know
Like skies of blue and fields of snow
With my hand on my heart
I promise they are
waiting for you now
waiting for you

He can make any desert bloom
in a heart like yours there’s room
for changes
and the change is coming soon
Don’t you know it’s just begun?
We’ll move that mountain with love

In a miracle

There’s no limt to
all the things He can do
Imagine what He can do for you
He’ll rescue you safe
from the prison of pain
and back to your life again

Tears bring Him closer
closer to you

He can make any desert bloom
in a heart like yours there’s room
for changes
and the change is coming soon
Don’t you know it’s just begun?
We’ll move that mountain with love

In a miracle