Monday, July 16, 2018


Good Monday morning.

Before I say anything else, let me say Thank You for your feedback regarding last week's blog. Last week I discussed in some detail why my husband & I do not care a great deal for Beth Moore, or more specifically, why we have scriptural concerns about her ministry & her future ambitions. As you might've guessed, today I would like to discuss Joel Osteen. I kid. I don't have that kind of energy.

Another Thank You to those who recently posted Amazon reviews of Dear Miss Moreau. Amazon reviews are everything for authors. Once you reach upwards of about fifteen reviews, Amazon essentially begins doing a little free advertising for you by recommending your book to readers whose purchase history suggests they may enjoy your book. The review doesn't have to be lengthy, & it certainly does not have to be positive. This woman clearly has an unhealthy obsession with Ernest Hemingway, & she uses far too many semicolons, is a totally legit review. What you intend as criticism might attract fellow Hemingway enthusiasts!

It feels like a year has passed since last I blogged. This is the inevitable result of a combination of a heavy news week plus a short family vacation. So much has happened, & there is so much in my head. 

To recap, in the span of a week America was introduced to Brett Kavanaugh, the world witnessed the incredible rescue of a soccer team & their coach who'd become trapped in a cave in Thailand, & our family took a short trip to Dallas. The Dallas trip is not worldwide news, but it is significant to me since I packed for three of the four travelers. I could write a blog or two about all of the above, but as is so often the case, all the things happened in the span of a few days. To top it off, I am currently reading a fantastic book, & I am also in the middle of writing some skits for this year's VBS, which is  quickly approaching.

Not to leave you hanging, this month's book club book (the aforementioned fantastic book I'm reading) is Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret. Regardless of what happens in the end (& I legit have no idea because I've avoided spoilers . . . though I do have my suspicions) it is a wonderful book. You'll likely hear more about it soon. The author can tell a story, but she also understands human nature. When an author has a firm grasp on human nature (& particularly in this case the nature of women) it makes even the tiny details, the seemingly throwaway passages in their work, a delight to read. 

I don't have much to say about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at this juncture. He would not have been my first pick, but as is so often the case, President Trump did not consult me. Kavanaugh's credentials to serve on the nation's highest court appear to be impeccable. I am obviously ignoring those who are screaming about Brett Kavanaugh endangering women's lives or taking people's condoms away or reinstituting slavery (I realize this sounds like hyperbole, but these are actual predictions some have made about the apocalyptic future should Kavanaugh be confirmed).

The only criticism of Kavanaugh I've read that seems to be legitimate & thoughtful comes from a handful of Libertarian-minded folks who are worried about his prior rulings concerning the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment is basically the unreasonable search & seizure amendment. It's the "Get a Warrant!" amendment. It's a big deal to most Libertarians who essentially want the government to climb out of debt, shrink itself, stop waging war all the time, & leave people alone. We all scream at one another because we want the government to do our bidding, to pass the laws we like, but what this indicates is that the government is too powerful. If the government were not so powerful, it would not matter a great deal who sits in the White House & which party controls Congress because it would have little impact on our day to day lives as we enjoy life, liberty, & pursue happiness. This is how things were designed to work.

Anyway, here's the 4th:

Privacy rights are a big deal & members of both major parties kind of ignore them all too often. It was back when George W. Bush was hollering about the Patriot Act & the TSA began molesting travelers that Libertarian seeds were planted deep in my soul --->

So anyway I guess I did have a few things to say about Brett Kavanaugh. I don't think Kavanaugh is as stellar a nominee as Neil Gorsuch, & that is primarily because when it comes to privacy issues, Gorsuch is essentially a Libertarian. Gorsuch is the Suprme Court Justice I would build from scratch if there were an adult Build-A-Supreme-Court-Justice store similar to the popular children's store Build-A-Bear. How fun would that be?

Maybe Kavanaugh will surprise me (in a good way). Life & liberty, people. These are the fundamentals that make America (to borrow a term from the president) great. Conservatives are usually on the same page regarding life, but many so-called conservatives are all too jolly about the government slowly stripping us of our liberty, often under the guise of safety. This concludes the Libertarian lecture portion of the blog. 

So, we went to Dallas. We left last Wednesday afternoon. We didn't leave that morning because the $1 Wednesday movie of the week last week was My Little Pony, & Reagan was certainly not missing that. One day you wake up & you're almost forty & you're planning your vacation around a $1 showing of My Little Pony, & the odd thing is it all seems totally normal. 

I of course took some pictures while we were in Dallas. I'll share a great many of those with you (along with commentary you could probably do without), & then I have a few thoughts to share regarding the Thai cave rescue that dominated my thoughts for several days last week & continues to dance in my head now. 

Hotel lobby fun while daddy secured the room keys:

We ditched our bags & made a beeline for The Cheesecake Factory. 

Quick note about traveling as a family: Trey does not usually eat breakfast. It's an odd & unhealthy habit of his. The kids & I do eat breakfast. I have to have coffee in the morning (followed within the hour by something with protein in it), & the kids have to have, at a minimum, a little milk. I could write a long & detailed explanation of why it is a physical & emotional struggle to stay in a hotel with the kids, but the short version is they like their routine, & their morning routine involves a stocked pantry & a refrigerator. 

We finally made it to a Panera Bread near the hotel. It was delightful to dine while listening to Trey's speech about how he hates Panera Bread. File his Panera Bread hatred under, "Things you think will make no difference in a marriage that actually cause enormous issues." 

We spent most of Thursday at the Galleria. We're planning a fall trip to the beach, so when I asked Reagan what else, if anything, she'd like to do this summer, she immediately & enthusiastically said she wanted to go to the American Girl store & to ice skate again. You may recall her ice skating debut was last November when we all traveled to Dallas right before Thanksgiving so I could hear Dr. Elliot Engel lecture on Hemingway. 

I guess I was in a store or going to the bathroom or something when this nonsense happened: 

There are very few stores in the Galleria that enthrall Henry, but he does love the escalators. 

Henry's ice skating debut went like this basically the entire time he was in his skates:  

After the ice skating Thursday I believe we visited a Barnes & Noble & then ate dinner. It's all a bit hazy. I am getting old, & sleeping in a hotel bed + ice skating didn't do much for my desire to take pictures the rest of the day. I do recall that later that evening I made a good cup of decaf & got in bed & read some of The Husband's Secret

Friday we all slept kind of late, so by the time we tumbled down to the car it was nearly eleven & we avoided the breakfast irritation of the day before by heading to Braum's for an early lunch. 

Post-Braum's we spent some time at a Celebration Station. We did several rounds on the Go-carts, & then Trey the kids played a variety of the indoor games. 

Henry's incessant laughter as I drove the Go-cart is the best sound in the world.

All last week, beginning early Sunday morning, my mind was never far from the now world-famous Thai soccer team who, along with their coach, found themselves trapped deep inside a cave in Thailand in late June. I went to bed last Saturday night, Sunday night, & Monday night hoping & praying I'd wake the next day to read news of the successful extraction of a handful of those trapped. By Tuesday, all thirteen had been successfully rescued from what had to have seemed to them at times to be their eventual tomb. 

The logistics of the whole situation continue to fascinate me. Truly last week as it unfolded it fascinated me, terrified me, & filled me with hope for the human race, often all at the same time. I thought a lot about those boys sitting in the dark day after day, many of them likely assuming the worst. I prayed they were all in good health & could live for days without any needed medication; this is where your mind immediately goes when you have an insulin-dependent child. If you ever find yourself the adult in charge of Reagan's whereabouts, this is why I am weird about knowing where she is & where her things are; you don't want to find yourself stuck somewhere, even in a traffic jam that only lasts an hour or so, without what she needs to check her blood sugar & correct it when needed. Granted, the fact is she would not survive a week or more stuck in a cave without food & insulin, but thankfully it is highly unlikely she'll ever find herself in such a situation. The reality is her situation can deteriorate rapidly in only a few hours, which is why I am a complete nutcase about knowing where she is, what adults are with her, & who is responsible for carrying her supplies. On the plus side, she knows a whole lot about her disease & her body, & she is now an active participant in her care.

Anyway, I wasn't paying much attention to this cave story until I read a diver lost his life in the rescue effort. It was only then I realized the seriousness of the situation. I thought once the team had been found it was a matter of throwing them a ladder or sending a boat or something. I realize now how silly that sounds. I don't really know what I thought the rescue would entail because until this recent event I had never once in my life given any thought to cave diving or what that entails or why in the world someone might want to do such a thing.

I began to wonder about all the logistics of this whole ordeal. I read articles about cave diving. I wondered how the British divers who first found the team were able to communicate with them. I soon learned one of the young soccer players speaks five languages, one of which is English. It is apparently rare for someone in Thailand to know English. What are the odds that among a group of thirteen young men from Thailand who're trapped in a cave & then discovered by two English-speaking British divers, one of them speaks English? What in the world are those odds? That is incredible. I watched video footage of the initial discovery; you can hear the broken English from the young man who took it upon himself to learn five different languages not knowing how valuable his skills would prove. 

I think the aspect of this event that captured my attention & my heart most completely is the divers. Truly this unfolded like one of The Incredibles films. From all corners of the earth men with highly specialized skills emerged to voluntarily put their lives at risk to save thirteen people they did not know at all. I know heroic acts of bravery happen every day. I know that. I know firemen rush into burning buildings & it doesn't even make the news. I will tell you, if I had to make a list of things I would never, ever want to do, squeezing through tiny spaces miles below the earth's surface, spaces filled with dark, muddy water, would probably be first on that list. I'll never, ever think of what those divers did without shuddering. The real kicker is that they did it repeatedly. They went back in & then back in again until everyone was out. They did it knowing they could die. 

I read a lot about this whole situation over the course of the last week. It's weird how one day you don't know cave diving is a thing, & then the next day you know the names of the world's cave diving experts & where they've made their most dangerous dives. John Volanthen, a cave diver & one of two British men who found the missing boys & helped to rescue them, had this to say about the event:

"I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life."

I just love what Mr. Volanthen had to say, that he, ". . . always wondered if it would have purpose," it being his passion, cave diving. Did you catch what he said? He spent his entire life preparing to save the lives of thirteen young men; he spent years perfecting a skill having no clue how truly valuable it would prove to be. That's a powerful thought.

It is quite possible any of us are at this moment unknowingly preparing for something. You don't have to know the specifics of the battle to prepare. Whatever the situation, whatever is asked of you, whether it's to reach out to & love a child in your class for nine months, to love your own children for a lifetime, to show Christ to a widow at your church or the widow who lives next door, you will be prepared if you take Emerson's words to heart:

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."
I do not know if those involved in last week's extraordinary effort read much Ralph Waldo Emerson, but etched on their hearts is something akin to his words. I know this to be true because they walked away from their comfortable lives & spent hour after hour doing grueling, life-threatening work to offer thirteen strangers a chance for survival. What they did was so mentally tough the boys who had to pass through the earth with them were sedated so they would not panic; at times I needed to be sedated just thinking about it. One of the divers gave an interview last week in which he stated they fully expected casualties. They did not expect they'd be able to get everyone out alive, & the divers knew they themselves might be counted among the casualties. Still, they went.  

You don't have to rescue people from flooded caves to have it said that you are useful, honorable, compassionate, that you live & live well. Let those who literally dive into flooded caves inspire you. We are all surrounded by people who live in metaphorical caves. They are trapped — trapped by their addiction, by their sin, by their grief, by their physical or emotional limitations. Offer them something unexpected. Most people likely assume they'll remain in darkness, secluded in their cave. Even a small gesture might be the light they need to begin to climb out. 

I do love the knowledge that I live in a world in which there are men willing to step away from their private lives, to risk their own lives, because there is a chance they might save the lives of complete strangers. Praise be to God that they were successful. May we all daily strive to muster a smidgen of the selfless compassion exhibited by these men.

Perhaps this is an indication of how my odd mind sometimes works, but all last week I kept thinking of what a rebuke these brave divers are to Gloria Steinem's famous phrase, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." We all have a purpose. I can't fulfill your purpose, & you cannot fulfill mine. Accept that your purpose may not catapult you onto the world stage; in fact, be thankful if that is the case as many of those (these divers included) who find themselves on the world stage often scramble humbly to exit quickly. Happiness is not the goal, but the surest way to find happiness is to lose yourself in purposeful, honorable, compassionate service to others, be they your own kids, your neighbors, or total strangers buried in a cave who are in need of exactly what you can offer.

Y'all have a wonderful week.  


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