Wednesday, July 25, 2007
According to our plans, we wouldn’t be in any position to purchase a home for at least another year. But then, God’s timing is much different than mine.
We went through a few realtors who treated us as too low on the scale to have to spend too much time on us. We felt frustrated and that both our time and their's was wasted.
We tried one more agent who turned out to be fantastic! She showed us some great houses and offered to help in all areas in being able to get into the home we wanted. One day, we found the “perfect” house. Oh, it needed some TLC and it would take some time to make everything “just right”, but we both saw the same huge potential in that house. But there was only one catch. It was just out of our price range. However, the sellers were in a bit of trouble and agreed to a short sale (only selling for what was owed). This put the house down into our range and we agreed to make an offer.
The other catch was that we needed to receive certain pieces of mail real soon in order for us to be able to even make the offer. As the agent dropped us off at the rental house, the postal truck was just pulling away from our mail box. And guess what was in the mail that day? Every peace of mail we needed to make this deal happen. We had been praying about it, felt great about the house (we rarely agreed on anything) and now we felt that God had given us all the signs that proved that this was the home He was providing for us.
Through the process, we learned that there was a second mortgage on the house and that it was held by the ex brother-in-law. Even thought his sort of thing looked real bad, we trusted God in that everything would work out according to His plan. We were so sure that this was God’s will that we let our second and third choice homes slide away and get purchased by someone else.
Our agent thought we were nuts to put so much faith into just one home without a back-up plan, but I told her that God was at work and to just stand back and watch Him work a miracle.
As time passed, which also included the time running out for us to be out of the rental (it had sold), the ex B-I-L still had not signed the release on the second mortgage. It turned out that he was trying to hurt the sellers and we just happened to be the unwilling victims with our hands tied.
The time had come and the ex B-I-L still hadn’t signed and the bank foreclosed on the property. Our agent called to say that it was over, that we had lost the house.
I was devastated. I was also thoroughly upset. I spent the drive to work having a rather “intense” conversation with God.
Okay, actually, a conversation means that two people are communicating with each other, with each one taking turns speaking and listening. I did all the talking. Well, to be perfectly honest, I did all the yelling! I was ticked and I was telling God off! I was hopping mad and I let Him know it!
(How stupid is that? To think that there is something that God doesn’t know?)
I was so mad I was yelling at God the entire way to work.
“How could you do this?”
“How could you build us up so much just to take it all away like that?”
“How could you give me so many signs that this is Your will, and then squash me like that? Especially after I told our agent how much faith we have in You and how awesome You are?”
“How could I ever trust You again?”
Yep. I told Him off good.
Then, just as I finished, God decided to answer me.
He’d been patient and kind and let me get it all out of my system before He offered His response.
As I approached the facility where I worked, I had to stop at the red light in the left turn lane at the intersection near work. As I waited for the light to change so I could make my left turn (I was in front), a small Aerostar mini-van stopped in the middle of the intersection trying to make a left turn, so he would be heading in the direction I had just come from. I couldn’t figure out why the driver of that van didn’t just go ahead and make his turn. There were no cars coming and the intersection was clear and he had a green light. He just kept inching his van forward as if he were waiting for a break in traffic. But there wasn’t any!
Then the light changed to yellow. He still waited, still inched forward, and then, just as the light was about to go to red – he floored it! Just as this was happening, I noticed a very large, full-sized pick-up truck with huge tires approaching from my left. Instead of stopping for the red light, he too thought he could beat the light. I now had a left turn arrow.
I watched, almost in slow motion, but not quite, as the two vehicles met in the middle of the intersection. Bang!
Now, when two objects collide at an angle to each other, the result is that the smaller (lighter) of the two objects will change direction depending on the speed and size of the larger object. The Aerostar “bounced” off the front of that huge truck.
In case you don’t remember much about vector theory from high school physics, I’ll just get to the point. That min-van was knocked straight towards…..me.
I saw it happen, I saw it coming, and that now-launched mini-van was now going to wind up in my engine compartment. I had only made two payments on my truck so far.
It was brand new.
The explosion of glass from that Aerostar was spectacular.
I grabbed each side of my steering wheel and braced myself for the impact of my airbag.
I closed my eyes and prayed I wouldn’t get hurt too bad.
I heard the squeal of the tires, the sound of tiny pieces of glass showering down all over my truck, and then I heard the loud crash of the second impact that brought the mini-van to a stop.
But I didn’t feel a thing.
I slowly opened my eyes and I was completely amazed at what I saw. My windshield was covered in pieces of glass, it looked like snow. The skid marks on the pavement went from the point of impact, straight towards the front of my truck, but the Aerostar was resting on my right side. It had taken out the little Toyota on my right side. From where the van was sitting, there is no way he could have gotten there without going through me. My truck didn’t have a scratch on it.
Then I heard a voice. Not that still small voice you may have heard about, but an audible voice. Soft, yet firm and deep. The voice said,
“Do you trust Me now?”
I’m surprised I didn’t wet myself. Thank you, Jesus, on both counts.
I got out of my truck to inspect the damage. I checked on everyone to make sure no one was hurt (everyone was fine). A woman who was in the car right behind me saw the whole thing. She asked if I was okay and said I must have guardian angels. She also asked if I had thanked God for what had just happened (or not happened). I told her I most definitely had. I don’t remember seeing her at all after that.
I gave my statement to the police officer, wiped the “snow” of glass off my windshield, and drove across the street to work. I was still shaking.
I learned some things that day.
I learned that God doesn’t like to be yelled at.
I learned that I can trust Him in ALL things.
And I learned that He still loves me even when I am stupid enough to think that I have the authority to tell Him off.
Oh, and the rest of the story?
Two weeks later our agent called to ask if we still wanted that house. The ex B-I-L had finally signed and we were still listed as buyers. We paid the legal fees to get it out of foreclosure, which wasn’t too much so it was still in our price range. We closed on a shortened escrow and everything timed out perfectly.
I learned that not only can I trust God, but I am much better off if I do.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
(Even if there IS a lot of truth in it!)
No ex-spouses were harmed in the making of this post.
I never knew what real happiness was until I married my first wife. But by then it was too late.
If you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you may be aware that I had been married once before. The marriage was pretty much crap, but I did my best to make it work and to keep it going. Towards the end, all the signals were there to indicate that the marriage was about to die completely, I just didn’t fully see it coming. Maybe I didn’t want to see it. I don’t know.
Judge for yourself……..
Stress from work and trying to make a go of a troubled marriage may have been the root cause of some health problems I was having. We went to the doctor to get me checked out. After examining me, the doctor went out to the waiting room to talk to my wife (now my ex). He said, “I don’t like the looks of your husband.” She replied, “Neither do I, but he sure is good with the kids!”
On our honeymoon night, I asked her, “Am I the first man you’ve ever made love with?”
She replied, “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
Once, I was in the backyard trying to fly a kite. Every time I tossed it into the air, it came crashing down. I tried time and time again, to no avail. My wife yelled to me from the kitchen window, “You need more tail!” I yelled back to her, “Make up your mind! Last night you told me to go fly a kite!”
I went to see my doctor once and told him I was having chest pains. He asked me, “Do you have a sex life?” “Yes, I do”, I told him.
He recommended that I give up half my sex life.
So I asked him, “Which half? The thinking or the looking?”
I was in a bad mood one day and someone asked me if I "woke up grumpy this morning?", and I said, “No, I just let her sleep.”
I actually hadn’t spoken to her in years.
I was taught it wasn’t polite to interrupt.
We tried marriage counseling. Several times. During one such series of sessions, the counselor asked to see us individually, which was probably better than just refereeing our weekly scheduled arguments.
During my time with the counselor, I told him of how all the stress was affecting my health, that I couldn’t sleep well and that she nags me and criticizes me constantly. I was afraid of accepting any food or drink from her for fear she was trying to poison me. He said he’d look into it and get to the bottom of things so as to calm my fears so I could finally begin to relax.
A couple of days later the counselor called me to tell me that he’d just spent three hours on the phone with her. When I asked him how it went, he simply said, “Take the poison”.
She once asked my doctor, “Give it to me straight, Doc. What’s wrong with my husband?”
The doctor said, “Your husband is in terrible shape. If you want him to live, you are going to have to change your lifestyle. From now on, you have to feed him right and make sure he gets plenty of sleep and wait on him hand and foot.”
When she got home, I asked her what the doctor had told her.
She said, “You’re going to die.”
As you may have guessed, she finally filed for divorce. Even after she swore she wouldn’t.
God is good, though. He blessed me with a most wonderful wife, who is most definitely the truest friend I have ever known.
Friday, July 20, 2007
My wife took the dog to the vet that morning and called to complain that the vet bill was higher than expected. I told her not to worry, that I felt that God was about to do something big and was going to bless us in a mighty way real soon. I could feel it.
That seemed to calm her down and make her feel better, and I was able to get back to the task at hand. I would finish this task before the end of the day, and I had no idea what I was going to get to do next. There just wasn’t much work to go around. Even some of the draftsmen in the office were organizing and archiving old drawings and files. Not much billable time.
As I mentioned, it was about time for the six month reviews, so when the boss poked his head in my door and asked me to come see him when I get a minute, I figured that was the reason.
When I got to his office, things began as usual, until he uttered the words, “I’m sorry…but there just isn’t any work, and there is no telling when things will pick back up, and we have to let some people go”.
He said some nice things, which didn’t seem to matter too much since I can’t remember much after that. He made some minor chit-chat and talked about some of the things I’m good at and some things that I excel at, sort of as if he was giving me the performance review anyway. He even asked me, concerning the many tasks I performed there, “What part of the job do you enjoy doing the most?”
“It doesn’t really matter now, does it?”
“I guess not.”
As I left his office to go pack up my own office, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had answered his question differently, would it have changed anything? Was there a specific answer he needed that would have allowed me to go back to my office, keep my job and resume working? I dunno. It’s a little late for that now.
I remembered what I said to my wife that morning. “God is going to bless us. He's going to do something big, real soon. I can feel it.”
But I certainly didn't expect this!
Once in my office, preparing to pack, I looked up and said, “Okay God. Your turn.”
I was reminded of how it is often said that when He closes a door, He opens a window, or perhaps another door. On the long drive home, I began thinking that if God is going to bless us through this, then it is possible He had to remove the one obstacle that would have hindered my decision to accept the blessing He was about to present to us. That obstacle being that job. It was a good place to work, good company, good people. Does this mean He has something even gooder for me? Could be.
After I got home, had dinner and dealt with all the “poor baby” talk, I checked my home e-mail. In it was an e-mail from a recruiter I hadn’t spoken to for over two years, asking about my “current situation” and if I’d be willing to discuss other opportunities. Again, I looked up and said, “Dude, you’re good.”
Long story short, I met with the recruiter on Thursday to discuss what I am looking for and what he could do to help. On the way home from his office, he called me and said there was a company interested in me and could see me right now!
So I changed direction and went. The job and the company wasn’t a good fit, but the guy was great to meet and talk to and said he knew of a company I would be perfect for and gave me names and numbers. So tomorrow morning, first thing, I’ll be making some calls.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
God is good. God is in control.
And we’re going to be just fine.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I’ll post pictures of the set later.
From Opening Night –
Written by a veteran actress of the local community theater
Love Letters at Stageworthy Productions
I didn't keep my program, so I don't have everyone's names. I'll do the best I can. It is a very well-written show. There is no substitute for good material. So anyone who comes to see this will be entertained for the extremely affordable price of $10.
Love Letters is written to be read by two actors. Director Diane Hayes chose to put her actors through the task of memorizing their letters and doing minimal blocking throughout the show. The two leads did a wonderful job of that managing that daunting task.
The set was gorgeous. It was a wall that incorporated lines from the show written in various fonts and scripts. It kept me fascinated through the whole show.
Serious kudos to the artist.Kudos to Stageworthy Productions for promoting community theater. They had an insert in their program listing all the upcoming productions through August.
Three more performances tomorrow and next Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
CCP's Studio 15 15 First Avenue NE
From the Producer
Thank you for the kind words, SBS!
It was a great feeling last night as we "raised the curtain" on our first production! The audience was very receptive, and there were comments of people wanting to see it again!
Diane and her cast (Janet and Scott) have done a wonderful job, and with all the choices out there, I hope you all will consider sharing in this special experience.
We did have walk-ins last night, but you can always call the reservation line (253-9115) to ensure your best date.
Tickets are only $10 each payable at the door.
From the local theater critic
Love Letters review
Last night I attended the opening of "Love Letters," written by A.R. Gurney, directed by Diane Hayes, produced by John Kastner, and presented by Stageworthy Productions at The Studio in Carmel. It moved me emotionally and gave me a lot to think about in terms of theatrical production.
Warning: spoilers follow.
This was the most intimate theater space I had ever been in, and it was wonderful. It was especially wonderful for this piece in particular: just two people in their two separate comfort zones on the stage, speaking as if reading aloud their letters to each other over the years.
The director, Diane Hayes, told us that a note from the playwright says to stage this piece in such a way as to emphasize its language. I.e. - put the actors in simple, black clothes, set them behind podiums, and let them read the script aloud to the audience. However, Diane decided to explore presenting it in a different way, without the physical barrier of a script or podium between the actors and the audience, and with a bit more blocking and other movement.
I have not seen any other productions of this piece, but I really liked what I got to experience last night. I did love the era-specific language - and I respect the actors for even attempting to memorize all that! - but I also loved the visual enhancements that Diane added.
The set itself (concept designed by Diane Hayes and executed by Ernest Bodrazic) was almost a third character. It used a pleasing, toasty warm palette and included single words and lines from the various letters that the two characters had written. The excerpts were shown in a variety of handwriting from the characters' various ages (e.g. - a child's printing or an adult's cursive) or engraving styles from various formal invitations.
It was enjoyable to just look at the set before the show started and to think of the words as random aesthetics, but then it was even more satisfying during the play to find myself looking back at the walls as various words came up in the story. It was very satisfying to suddenly understand the meaning behind, say, "Jane!" or "the election."
I also loved that even though the two characters' spaces were furnished differently and were divided by space as well as by skillfully timed lighting (designed and run by Tom Creviston), there were paintings propped up against both characters' walls. Melissa painted and Andy encouraged her to paint, but sometimes it happened in the opposite order: Andrew encouraged and then Melissa painted. It was right and satisfying to see paintings as well as words in both halves of the stage.
According to the program, Diane Hayes also coordinated the costumes, which were quite effective. Andrew wore a suit, which fit him being a lawyer and senator but which also enhanced his "stuffiness" in prep school. Melissa wore black, but over the black pants and top she wore a long, gorgeous turquoise jacket. It was a simple outfit that allowed her to move around a lot as an active child, sullen teen, bohemian artist, etc. but which also emphasized Melissa's beauty and love of color.
The actors, Scott Trammell (Andrew) and Jan Hodson (Melissa) were so good! I ached for Melissa, especially at the end. For both of them, actually.
Scott didn't seem completely grounded in his lines yet, but he used a scrapbook of the letters as part of his character portrayal anyway, so he had the letters to refer to naturally if he hit a blank spot mentally. It worked.
It also makes sense, anyway, for Andy to have a perfectly organized, linear scrapbook of Melissa's letters that he pours over, while Melissa (who says she doesn't like writing) just stuffs the cards and letters that she receives from Andy into a box by her chair.
Andy's speech about why he likes to write letters, and why he needs to write them, touched a deep, deep chord in me. I want to get a copy of the script and read those lines again for myself. I am not exactly like Andy - I like to keep copies of what I write; I like to write to individuals but I don't mind writing to groups; and experience has taught me that writing is not necessarily safer than communicating by telephone or in person.
But I knew exactly what he meant when he said something about liking who he can be when he writes, and how writing lets him figure out what he thinks and feels. Writing lets him make sense of the world.
Yes, I definitely want to read this script and maybe memorize portions of it myself.
In the meantime, I am writing to you. If you go see this play, please write and tell me (tell all of us) what you think! I bet you will be glad you went.
__________________-- Amaryllis Jones
The scrapbook was a prop. The use of it was intentional and used as a prop. And yes, it was rather helpful in keeping me in tune with the flow of the dialogue, since it contains most of the letters written by Melissa to Andy. So there.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I mentioned before that everyone keeps telling me to break a leg. This has me somewhat worried since the only occasion I can think of where an actor broke a leg on stage was right after President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater. So I wasn’t too sure this was such a good thing.
I asked the director about why people say this and she, being a veteran of the stage, informed me that it was a good thing. She says that saying “break a leg” is the nicest thing you can say to an actor before they go on stage and that saying “the other thing” is actually bad luck.
Now, the director refuses to actually utter the words “Good Luck”, since she believes this to be a bad thing. However, she did schedule the opening night of the play for Friday the 13th! So, is she superstitious or not? I’m not really sure.
Also, our director, who has been involved in this play before, said that last night’s opening night had the largest turnout for an opening night of this particular play in this area. I am so glad the lights were shining bright in my eyes so I couldn’t really tell.
The play went rather well. Oh, there were a couple of blown lines (I missed a couple of words once), but me, my co-star, and the director were the only ones who knew about it. The little “mistakes” were small and unimportant and had no effect on the flow of the story. So it all worked out.
I was amazed at the response from the audience. They laughed more than I thought they would, and sometimes when I didn’t think anyone would laugh at all.
I was having so much fun, that I was actually sorry when the play came to an end. When the lights came back up, following my closing letter, I noticed my wife in the front row, crying her eyes out. I also heard a few sniffles throughout the audience as well. My 19 year old son even said he liked it. He thought it would be boring, but instead really enjoyed it and said he’s going to come see it again next weekend.
After the play, people I didn’t even know came up to shake my hand and say how much they liked the play. Throughout the entire play, I could tell the audience was really getting into it and “feeling” what the characters were feeling.
In case you aren’t familiar with this particular play, the two characters never interact with each other and don’t even look at each other or in each other’s direction, and they never leave their side of the stage. Even so, you can still “feel” their story as each letter unfolds.
They each enter from opposite ends of the stage, and take their seats in what appears to be their own homes (den, study, living room, whatever). They share their “letters” to each other, which begin in the second grade in 1937, where they first met. The play tells the story, through their letters, notes, Christmas cards, Birthday cards, etc., to each other over the next fifty years.
The play is designed to be read by two people with only one or two rehearsals and they remain in their seats the entire time. In this play, we have done what has never been done before, that we know of. We don’t read it. We recite each letter from memory, while often moving around about our side of the stage. Even my character’s five minute long letter from boarding school. My character LOVES to write. A lot! So I have several looonnngg letters to recite. It isn’t so bad, since I can really relate to this guy.
Love Letters. Done in a way you’ve never seen it before. I am having a Blast!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tonight at 8PM, when the curtain goes up, I will become Senator Andrew Makepeace Ladd, III.
Sorry I haven’t written for a while, but……
“I know it seems jerky, but I like writing, actually. I like writing compositions in English, I like writing letters, I like writing you. I wanted to write that letter to your mother because I knew you'd see it, so it was like talking to you when you weren't here. And when you couldn't interrupt. (Hint, hint.) My father says everyone should write letters as much as they can. It's a dying art. He says letters are a way of presenting yourself in the best possible light to another person. I think that, too.”
There’s your freebie. That’s only one of my lines. There’s more. LOTS more !
Over 90 minutes worth.
The play was originally intended to be read by two people, with minimal preparation. That means no memorization of lines, and rehearsals are not necessary. Just walk in, sit down and read it. Which is a good thing since a lot of the letters are quite long. I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to go see it in your area.
We, however, are making it more conversational, so it flows more naturally. So, we’ve memorized the whole thing.
The. Whole. Thing.
We won’t be reading the play, we’ll be reciting the letters without looking at the book.
I’m a little nervous.
People keep telling me to “break a leg”. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or what, since it might make it a little hard for me to move around the stage.
Maybe I’ll just walk with a limp.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Now, more than ever, listen to the meaning of these words.
If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?"
me, an individual, a committee of one.
dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.
my love and my devotion.
To the Flag
our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there's respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody's job!
that means that we have all come together.
individual communities that have united into 48 great states.
Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that's love for country.
And to the republic
a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
For which it stands, One Nation
one nation, meaning "so blessed by God"
incapable of being divided.
which is freedom -- the right of power to live one's own life without threats, fear or some sort of retaliation.
the principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.
which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.
Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country and two words have been added to the pledge of Allegiance...
Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
My office is on the top floor of our building, and apparently someone decided to re-roof our building using an angry herd of wild elephants. The noise, all day today, has been deafening. With all that shaking and banging and rumbling going on, it has been difficult to concentrate on work.
On top of that, they must have decided to use some sort of sealant around the air conditioning units on the roof, because a very strong toxic odor seemed to pour through the vent in my office. It must have started gradually since I didn’t notice it at first.
Now, I’m not saying I started getting a little loopy, but the project I am working on is a creek realignment and I think I’ve found a way to make water drain uphill. I think I’ll double-check my calculations later on when I am sober.
I normally do my designs (and sometimes my calculations) in pencil, so I can easily make corrections, so I have some tiny pieces from my eraser still on my desk. Imagine my surprise when some of those little pieces began to move! Holy Crap! That odor coming out of my vent must have been stronger than I thought! For a moment I thought I was tripping! It wasn’t “cool” either, because I was also feeling “itchy” on my head and my shoulders.
It wasn’t until I picked up one of these moving pieces that realized what they were. Ants!
Ants on my desk, crawling across my work, across my walls, on my shirt, in my hair. Those itchy little things are everywhere!
Apparently, the newly sealed roof has given the ants only one place now to go. Down.
I keep hearing the occasional little “plop” of one of them landing on my desk on my paperwork. I am so glad I never did drugs because this has been so not fun.
This is taking awhile to write since I have to keep stopping to go squish a few of those little buggers before they start crawling on me! What do I look like? A Picnic?
Well, at least the air coming out of the vent is clean and odorless and no longer toxic. I’m just glad I can still think straight and write coherently and itiafilweoaluaiwltswslln…………dude.
At least the ants aren’t biti………Ow!