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Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear Soldier, Forgive Me

Dear Soldiers,

Yesterday I heard myself utter the words, please pray for our troops who are unable to be with family this Holiday season.  Those words no sooner crossed my lips when I realized how much I take for granted.  I was sitting in a heated sanctuary and didn’t have to give one thought to a battle raging outside the walls of our building.  As I was driving home to my husband I became increasingly aware of just how important that prayer really is.  So today I want to ask your forgiveness.

Forgive me for only praying for you on Sunday…
…your battle never ends.

Forgive me for not saying thanks when I sit at the table with my husband…
…you would give anything to be with your family.

Forgive me for complaining about too few breaks at work…
…do you even remember what a break is?

Forgive me for complaining about the noisy child in the grocery store…
…I bet even the sound of a crying child would be a blessing to you.

Forgive me for taking this free life in the United States of America for granted…
…when you are working so hard to keep it this way.

Soldier, I will never know what it is really like to walk in your boots, but I want to at least acknowledge that you are heroes and deserve what I can give; recognition and prayers for you and your families.  And when I think about how much I enjoy being with my husband, family and friends I will give thanks for you and ask that you be kept safe until you can enjoy the warmth of family and friends once again.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Way

I've been reflecting lately on the origin of my faith in God and it seems that unlike some, I'm unable to really pinpoint a day or time when I had that "aha" moment.  All I know is that at a very young age I would listen to the voices of the meadowlark and the red-winged blackbird; curious to know what made them sing.  I believe that God's voice in the wind called me away from the angry voices of people to come out and  dance with the little stream on the edge of town. It was God who called me to safety then and it is He who calls me to a deeper place today.  It was God and it is God.

I went away to a monastery recently to reflect on this faith and some things occurred to me.  For many years I worshiped in an evangelical setting.  I don't know how many times a congregation would rejoice when they learned that someone had come out of "Catholicism" to the true Christian experience.  So many times I would hear pastors refer to the "other" denominations in a negative light; as if to say that "our way" was the only way.  It bothered me then and it bothers me today.  While I was in prayer with the nuns at the monastery I was in awe of the reverence while we were singing the Holy scriptures.  It was a solemn time; a sacred time.  It was a blessed form of worship.  God is alive in the Catholic church just as He is in other paths of faith.  I say paths because in my observation of faith settings over the years, we are really all on a significant journey to seek the ultimate experience or path to find meaning for our lives as it relates to God.  Why are we here?  How can my life bring meaning to another?  Who is this "One" who made us all in His image and yet so very different are we from one another? We all are in pursuit of the perfect way to worship this God, yet not one of us can claim the identity of another seeker when we attempt to identify our individual relationship with God.  Why?  I believe it's simply not possible.  Our walk with the living Christ is as unique as the finger prints on our hands and as unique as the very DNA of our souls.  We are uniquely and individually designed.  That is something to  celebrate.

So what makes us think that there is but one approach to the blessed presence of God and the worship we bring?  I hope I never know the answer to that question, because once that happens I fear I too will stop seeking the special place that I long for.  A place I began seeking as a little girl; a place in my soul that makes me know the unending presence of the living Christ, Emmanuel, God with us!

Blessings to you, my unique and wonderful friends.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

What is Christmas?

Every year I get frustrated with the argument of whether or not retailers should say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays".  Every year I am perplexed at the number of people who stay up all night just to get the best bargain for Christmas.  Call me a cynic, but I don't think I recognize Christmas anymore.  Or do I?

I did some in depth research on the subject of Christmas.  Well, not really, but I did launch a Google search.  I clicked on the first link I found which was, and this is what I learned; "Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenonmenon.  For two nillennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature."  Hmm that's interesting.  So, Christmas is religious, cultural and commercial all wrapped up in one neat package.  Brilliant!

So what's the big deal if the checker at Macy's or any other department store says, "happy holidays"?  I mean, does the iPod we purchase or the new sweater really have anything at all to do with the birth of Jesus?  How would the store employee know?  How are they supposed to know our intent?  In fact, how many recipients of our gifts can in any way associate them with anything besides the time of year when we can expect anything for which we've asked?  Long before Jesus was born, were people saying, if we get a saviour this year, maybe we can spring for the new camel next year.  I don't think I recognize Christmas anymore.

 Or do I?

Today as I was sitting at the piano, alone in the church sanctuary, my mind wandered as it often does and I began to play and sing these words; "Emmanuel, Emmanuel, His name is called, Emmanuel.  He is God with us, revealed in us, His name is called, Emmanuel".  Is it enough just to know that God is in me?  I don't need to hear a department store employee recite the words, "merry Christmas" to know that God is with me and better still, that He is in me. 

Is it enough to know that Emmanuel has come to be with you and to feel the intimacy of a Saviour revealed in you?

Happy Holidays,


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You for Stopping By

Someone made this statement to me yesterday, "Amy, I'm not like you, I can't always find a reason to give thanks".  Maybe she is more like me than she thinks.  The truth is that some days even I have a hard time finding something to be grateful for.  One year ago tomorrow, I was sitting at my desk when a co-worker approached me to tell me that one of our dear teammates had been killed in a car accident the night before. That was a somber day.  I had to answer the question to customers all day of, "did you have a nice Thanksgiving?" For a whole day I said these words over and over until I believed them myself, "I have so much to be thankful for".

While it is true that there are days when it is hard to find gratitude, there is always something to be grateful for.  Today I am grateful for many things; too many to be counted actually.  But tomorrow could be one of those days when I have to reach deep within and simply say, "I'm thankful for so much" and leave it at that.

As I go on about my day today, I want to say that if you stopped to read this post, I am thankful for you.  Because you read my blog? No, because you may be searching for encouragement and if this blog can give you any bit of joy for today, then I am thankful you stopped by.

Blessings to you all as you read

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gift of Laughter

I had the honor of accompanying my husband, Mike to another marathon this past weekend.  This one was in Richmond, Virginia.  I love going to his races for many reasons. I usually get him to the start of the race and then head on out to find a place where I can encourage him and the other runners.  Then I rush off to at least one more place on the course where I will spur him on before going to congratulate him at the finish line.  This is always my favorite part.  There is something else I enjoy while I am at the races.  I get to meet people from all over our country and beyond.  This race was memorable.  I met a lady who was from Poland, there to watch her husband run his first marathon in the United States. I also met a lady whose friend was running her 15th marathon this year!

The most important interaction of the day was with a local homeless man.  As I was standing along the street cheering for runners I noticed a man begging money to no avail from two young girls.  My first thought was that I wish he would leave them alone because it appeared as though he was scaring them.  I had no sooner thought that when he began to wander my way.  He asked the question, "ma'am, do you have a dollar for me?" I knew I had a dollar in my pocket, in fact it was the only cash I had.  So now would be the moment of truth. Did I have a dollar for him? I made a quick decision that day.  I said, "yes, I have a dollar and if you would be willing to cheer for the runners with me for five minutes, you can have it." He was ok with that and for five minutes or more he cheered for the runners and laughed the whole time.  He kept looking at me and asking if he was doing it right and then he would laugh loud enough to draw attention to himself and me but it didn't seem to matter.  After a short time he turned to me and said, "has it been five minutes?" I said close enough and handed him his dollar and a handshake and watched as he walked away saying aloud, "I cheered for the runners" and he was still laughing.

Some would say that I merely enabled him to buy alcohol or whatever his vice may have been.  There are those who think I may have put myself in harms way by doing what I did.  What I saw was a man who may have laughed for the first time in a long time.  It doesn't matter to me what he did with that dollar that day.  I saw him laugh.

I gave him a dollar and he gave me so much more.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dear Abby

After listening to break-room talk today, I decided to come home and compose a letter to Dear Abby that may have come from any one of the conversations that I witnessed.  This is in no way to be a reflection on my marriage.  I have trained my husband much better than this.  Enjoy the read and have a best day!

Dear Abby,

Today is the day I have chosen to finally sit down to write you a letter.  I have been married to Jack Ass, (his real name) far too long.  When we met he was a perfect gentleman.  He always opened the car door for me and waited on me to be settled before closing it.  I in turn would reach across the seat to unlock his door and open it for him as a sign of returning my love.  When we would sit down at the dinner table we would hold hands and gaze lovingly at each other, sometimes forgetting why we were there.  It was bliss, I tell you, pure bliss. 

We have been married for one year now and suddenly that has all changed.  Oh yeah, he still opens and closes the doors but not necessarily for me.  He now opens the door before me and closes it on me; and usually before I’m in the car.  At dinner time he resembles a vulture swooping in to grab up road kill before he flies off to selfishly devour his rotten catch. He eats so fast that when he finally goes to sleep, he grinds his teeth because his jaw is still trying to catch up.  That’s another thing!  His teeth!  You never start the flossin’ while you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for flossin’ when the eatin’ is done! I was paraphrasing some gambling song.  Gambling is what I did when I married this chump, I guess. 

Anyway, when I married, Jack, (his real name) I said that I would stay with him in sickness, health, poverty, wealth and until death would part us.  I plan on keeping that commitment.  I am not asking you to advise me on how to make my marriage better.  I am simply asking that you would advise “Jack” on how to protect himself.  Although I am committed to staying with him until death, it is quite possible that if he doesn’t find the gentleman within, he may suddenly meet the end of that commitment.  I’m just sayin’. 


Homicidal Honey

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What is Real?

I didn’t know as a little girl that I would find myself relying on the profound words of a children's book when I was grown.  But many times when I look back at where I have been and who I have become, I can’t help but to remember the words of Margery Williams in “The Velveteen Rabbit”. 

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.  “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”  Does it happen all at once…or bit by bit?”  “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

We begin our lives in the simplest form. We come out of the womb with nothing but the hands that hold us and nurture us and sometimes those hands are broken.  Maybe it’s not the hands that are broken, but the lives to which they are attached. We live and grow because of the care of others. We are dependent upon others for everything. With each day, year we become more independent to the point of making our own decisions. Often those decisions are an effort to find out who we are and how we fit in this world.

Sometimes even the most loving and protective hands can’t save us from ourselves.  We hurry through life trying to become the person that we think others want us to be.  We do this in an effort to hide who we truly are, or maybe who we are becoming.  Why?  I’ve asked myself this many times.  Why did I dress a certain way when I performed?  Why did I use alcohol for so many years to hide my pain and loneliness? I was, like many, afraid to let people know the person inside.  I was afraid that if someone saw my emotions, my frailties; that they wouldn’t like what they saw.  I was afraid that those who had become my friends would walk out of my life; maybe even forever.

You know what?  When I came face to face with my alcoholism, and began to uncover the things that led me there, I began to realize that the person hidden inside all those years was really a beautiful person.  I am beautiful just the way I am.  I have a limited understanding of the world of antique investing, but what I have learned is that if a person refinishes an antique, the value is decreased.  Original is the key.  I am almost an antique and I have made a lot of changes, walked a lot of paths.  Some of those paths were not the best choices.  Today I am grateful for the woman whom I have become and I am comfortable with the fact that I can never be ugly except to people who don’t understand.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Gift of Exuberance

I walked into the building at approximately 5:55 a.m. today with the usual spring in my step.  I greeted the security guard and each person I passed on the way to my desk.  One lady said, “Amy Potts, do you have to be this happy at six in the morning?”  I smiled, said, “I suppose I don’t have to be, but it’s easier than being crabby” and kept walking.  It was a rainy day in Kansas today and it is also Monday, both of which make for a gloomy day for some.  I happen to like Monday and I love rainy days.  

I had already spoken to several customers with routine requests when I got “that call”.  That call that I am referring to is the “angry caller”.  The one who starts the conversation with, “I want to know why you people…”.  After I listened to his concerns, which were colorfully communicated with insults, I began to understand the real issue at hand.  He indeed was angry, but the root of his anger was fear, and with good reason.  We talked for several minutes and I remained as positive as I could, trying to consider how I would feel if I were him.  By the time we wrapped up our conversation, he was in better spirits and I was too.  I learned today that exuberance is more contagious than the common cold and it feels better too.  

After work I went to the gym.  My enthusiasm was not overwhelming when I approached the sights and smells of my fellow gym-goers. Physically I did not want to be there.  I felt tired and overwhelmed at my fitness goal and how far I am from that mark. I was discouraged.  Yes, the same woman who started the day with obnoxious enthusiasm now needed a boost of vitamin E as in encouragement. 

There is a woman who works out at the same gym who drives me crazy.  She talks non-stop and flies from station to station.  There is only one situation in my daily life that I prefer not to talk to anyone and that is while I am exercising.  That is my time to think and to clear my mind in preparation to talk non-stop when Mike comes home. Well today I experienced an unexpected blessing.  That woman who drives me crazy approached me and said, “I like you”.  I must have looked shocked because she felt as if she needed to explain.  She said, “I’m not a lesbian or anything like that, I just like you because you smile when you say hi to me when most people are rude”. Inside my mind I was feeling a thousand degrees of guilty because of how I have complained about her to my husband.  What she said had nothing to do with my fitness goal, but it gave me the strength to finish my workout.  I needed that today.

The gift of exuberance given to two people gave back to me much more than I could have imagined in one day. 

Tomorrow as you approach your day, consider giving something as simple as a smile.  I promise that you will receive much more than you gave.

I need to shower now or Mike's enthusiasm may be lacking when he comes home to greet me.  :o)

Have a great week everyone!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Be Encouraged

Be encouraged if you woke up today, someone didn't.
Be encouraged if you can read this, someone can't.
Be encouraged if you can smile at another, they may have forgotten how.
Be encouraged if someone smiles at you, because they gave you simple joy.
Be encouraged if your clothes were clean, someone has been wearing the same clothes for weeks.
Be encouraged if someone expresses hate, you made them feel safe enough to be honest.
Be encouraged if you can't sing a note, the song in your heart will always be heard.
Be encouraged if your vision is impaired, most of us look too far ahead anyway.
Be encouraged if your well of tears has run dry, someone will cry for you.

It's a simple message today, because I didn't know what else to write.  I am simply grateful and somehow putting it in print makes me realize how much I really do have and how much my friends near and far need to be encouraged.

Maybe my purpose in putting my thoughts out to the world is to simply encourage others.  I fall short sometimes, but if this word encouraged you today, then I am grateful.

Blessings to all who will read this.

Amy Potts

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Need My System

Some days I simply want to go home.  I want to sit next to my husband on the couch to watch the "Sound of Music" to hear those familiar happy tunes or maybe watch "O Brother Where Art Thou" to laugh at the same lines again and again.  Or I might wander off to my room to play piano and sing.  Whatever it is, whenever it is I just want to be home.

Until two years ago that home was in Iowa.  Iowa had been my home for nearly 50 years and suddenly I found myself moving to Kansas.  Kansas where the sunflower is it's state flower.  For the Iowa farmer and those of us who grew up pulling weeds from soybean fields, the sunflower was an evil predator.  But you know what?  When I see those flowers growing wild in the ditches today, I am taken back to a place of my youth.  A place that is largely responsible for shaping who I am today.  Pierson, Iowa, at the time, had a population of about 200 people.  They may have even included our family pets in that count just to keep the numbers up.  It would be alright if they did, really, because our pets taught us lessons that people couldn't.  We learned about the birth of puppies and kittens, and how turning ground-squirrels loose in town could make any nice lawn a colony, while increasing the frustration of the homeowner.  That alone was a lesson in mercy and grace, I suppose.   

When I first moved to Kansas City a couple years ago, I spent the majority of my time turning around to go the "right" direction.  I was lost most of the time.  I would find myself in tears sometimes wanting to go back to my home.  I wanted to be where everything and everyone was familiar to me.  I didn't feel as if, like the sticker indicates, I could work away from my home or with any other system.  I wanted to go home and that home was Iowa!  I was lonesome for my friends, my family and the quiet place in the country I enjoyed visiting with my dog.

Home is, after all, where I feel loved and protected.  Home is where I feel valued and needed.  Home is where I can give my love without fear of being misunderstood or taken for granted. Home is with my husband, Mike who provides those things today.  But home is also in the people and places in Iowa that are and always will be dear to me.  I may have left Iowa, but Iowa has never left me.  I haven't been separated from my "home system", I've simply expanded it.

If you have been a part of my life for forty-six years or just two, know that you have been and are a part of the system that keeps me grounded and growing.  Maybe you are my system.

Have a best day!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

So It Began

     I had the privilege of spending time with Mike and his extended family this past weekend.  As family functions go, there was much to learn about each other and to simply refresh our memories.  Being somewhat new to the Potts family, I had the difficult task of remembering the names of the adults, children and family pets.  I survived and am a better woman because of it.  There were some tears, but they evaporated quickly into laughter as the reminiscing soon turned to the wiles of our youth.
     Whenever I am in a situation like this, I am taken back in my mind to a little town in Iowa called Pierson.  It is where my life began.  I would often walk to the edge of town; within a couple blocks no matter the direction, to wade in the shallow creek.  Squishing mud between my toes while the cool water splashed on my ankles, life could not be better.  With the accompaniment of the meadowlark and the red winged blackbird, I would often make up my own little songs.  I was alone, but I was never lonely.
     I was asked recently to recall the time when I first believed there was a God.  I didn't really have to think too long.  Perhaps I didn't know what to call it at the time, or maybe didn't understand why I wasn't lonely while I walked in fields of clover.  Today, I know it was the beginning of my faith in God.  Although I have experienced my share of tragedy and loss, I too have known much joy.  When I sit and think about the little girl who walked those creek banks barefoot and without a worry, I can almost feel the mud between my toes again and I want to go there.

     When I hear testimonies of how people came to a belief in Christ because of a single life changing event, I sometimes doubt the significance of my simple my journey.  I know better today because God's footprints are every where when I look back 46 years. Maybe I still believe today because of the consistent pattern of care and love over time.

"Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, 
how I've proved him o'er and o're. 
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, 
oh for faith to trust Him more"  

     I have sung the words of this hymn many times and perhaps that in essence is my testimony.  It wasn't a single life changing event that brought me to this faith.  It has been a daily recognition that something or someone bigger than I, has kept me all these years. 

     Thank you for reading my words and be encouraged this day knowing that the "One who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it"


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Got Water?

I was watching the Oklahoma City Marathon on television a couple years ago from my hotel room. I was not feeling well that day and my husband was running so I was hoping for a glimpse of him. I usually go to his races and drive ahead on the course so that I can encourage him along the way. Then I will drive to the finish line and wait for him to cross. In my mind I am thinking of his personal goal for the race and I'm watching the finish line clock hoping the best for my runner man.

The weather in Oklahoma City that day was not the best. The Oklahoma winds came "sweeping down the plains" and into the city, on this overcast day. I was listening to a former marathon runner talk about how days like this were deceptive to the runners. Because the wind was wiping the sweat from their bodies as quickly as it came, it may have felt to the runners as though less hydration was necessary. So they wouldn't drink as much water as they usually did because they felt alright.

The cameras would search the sea of runners until it found the man who was leading the race, looking strong and fast. And then they moved on to find the woman who was leading and she too was looking confident with each stride. Something happened though that changed that woman's day. Not too many miles from the finish, she suddenly stopped, wandered over to the curb and collapsed. How could this strong, experienced runner be finished? She didn't appear to have been injured. She had simply used all of her body's water reserve and had to stop. Where is the "Mike Potts" camera when you need it. Now I was concerned that my runner may experience the same thing. Was he careful and did he know to drink water even if he didn't feel thirsty? I was concerned, only briefly because I knew that he had prepared and wasn't one to take risks. He would walk if he needed to, and he was wise about his consumption of fluids. He finished the race, not at his estimated pace, but he finished and I was proud.

I'm no scholar nor am I a great theologian. I am in this marathon called life with you and I need water. But, I am not unlike the woman in the race who wasn't aware that she needed it until she came to a halt. When life seems to be going along at a comfortable pace, I keep running. Then a day comes that I realize I am running on an empty tank. God knows that about me, about all of us really and He waits at the curb to soften the fall. He promises in Isaiah 40:17-20 that he will not leave us thirsty. The Message puts it this way, "The poor and homeless are desperate for water, their tongues parched and no water to be found. But I'm there to be found, I'm there for them, and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty". I fall short most days by simply not asking for water. It's available to me in the same way the water stations are available for runners in a marathon. We just need to stop and drink.

Got Water?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Working Like a Dog

I love to hear people say, "I worked like a dog today". Why do I like this expression? I like it because I have a dog and I know what she does all day. Granted, she is a Corgi, and from what I have read about dogs of her breed, they are great herding dogs. I use the term, they, broadly because not all corgis herd cattle by day and guard their owners by night. While our Chloe does exhibit herding tendencies, it is our cat that she redirects and not necessarily at our command. She works when it is convenient. Mostly she plays with a ball and takes naps. Which, sounds like a professional athlete's job. That is a blog entry in itself.

So this is how I suppose my day would look if I worked like our dog. I would wander into the office when I was ready, after making many detours on the way. When I finally arrive, I will wander from person to person looking for a good ear scratching. I might even sniff them if I'm not feeling too secure. After some enthusiastic chat time, I will suddenly stop in my tracks, tip over, and take a nap. When I'm ready, I will get up and wander to the water fountain for a drink and finally arrive at my desk. I will work so long as my boss keeps me well stocked with treats, and pours on a good dose of praise. When that stops, I will lay down on the floor and pout until I fall asleep only to get up and do it all over again.

I'm beginning to like the sound of this. (ignoring the current unemployment rate in our city) The next time I hear someone say, I worked like a dog today, I'm going to smile and wonder where they got that job!

Thanks for reading,

Amy "Cracked" Potts

~ Laugh Much, Laugh Often ~

Monday, June 14, 2010

There is a doG

Everyone knows the joke about the dyslexic atheist who claimed "there is no doG". I have to say that as a Christian I believe in God and I had a doG who at times was the only one who could convince me He was still listening.

I grew up in a home where we always had a dog and cat. We learned about life and death with these beloved creatures. We watched kittens and puppies be born; sometimes in the most inconvenient places. I also felt the sadness of saying goodbye. As I grew old enough to understand the power of friendship and the symbolism in letting go of "man's best friend", I realized that there is more to life than just existing.

I found a way as a young woman to understand that life is not just a matter of our heart beating one minute and then stopping. It is about relationships; good and bad. It is about learning how to love, and how to forgive. It is as much about pain as it is about pleasure. It is about learning how to balance it all in a world that can be so cruel.

Grief has a funny way of cutting to the core of who and what we believe. I had a little dog named, Blackie. He was a gift to my first husband shortly after he had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know at the time, but that little doG would one day be the single life that would help me to cling to my own life. When my husband passed away I wasn't much interested in life. I went through my day to day routine just because I had to. On the days that I didn't want to get out of bed, that little doG would nudge my hand or do something to make me realize that I had to at least take care of him. Sometimes, that's really all I did do. But it worked, Mr. Blackie helped me to keep moving.

Last spring I had the extreme sadness of saying goodbye to my Blackie. But I am grateful that I got to be the one to hold him as he took his last breath because it was in that moment that I realized it was he who made me want to take another breath during the darkest time in my life.

If I wake up tomorrow and learn that there never really was a God, I will be grateful for the faith that has kept me through it all. Most of all today I am thankful for the doG who helped me believe that there is a God and he watches over me often in the most expected ways.

~R.I.P. Blackie~

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Season in Your Path

Life brings people into our lives sometimes forever and sometimes just for a season. Who or what determines the timing of it all is to some up for debate. It doesn't really matter how or why people come and go, it just matters that they do. I have a friend, Jan, who I have known for 30 years now. She is one of those forever friends that has been by my side since we met. I've been through hell and back, some of the hell by my own choosing, and still she remains one of my dearest friends. There are also those friends who I grew up with and over time have lost touch with them. There are no reasons, if you will, for losing the connection. There is just the process of growing away from each other that happens. Seasons.

Mike and I moved into our apartment almost a year ago and although we know the names of most of the dogs in the complex, we don't know their owners names. There's Buster, Rosie, Pookie, Lulu, Lala, Feona and Banshi. The owner's names? Well, we'll get to that one day. But, there was one man whose name we learned because he introduced himself to Blackie, our dog. He was a very special neighbor whose life was hard. When we moved in, he would merely observe us from a distance. At first I was a little unnerved by that feeling of someone watching me. As time went by he became less afraid of us. He was a gentle man and because of his mental state, I fear that most of his life he was ridiculed and came by his fear of people naturally. The first time he spoke to Mike without prompting was when Mike was outside with the dog and seemingly out of no where Mike heard someone say, "I like your doggie". The voice came from somewhere above, and was a little startling. Lonnie was on his balcony watching Mike and the dog. Winter came and from a comfortable distance for our neighbor we looked after him. If we saw him leaving the building on a cold day without a coat, we would remind him that it was too cold to be without and most times he would turn back to get warmer gear.

This week Lonnie's mom came to move our neighbor out. It was a short season for us to learn, what little we did, about a man whose struggles within seemed much more intense than anything I may ever experience. I am thankful for the season we had in his path. Because of this, I have learned more about myself; my level of compassion, my ability to care for someone who never spoke my name.

Nobody really loves winter, I am told. The cold of winter causes us to stay inside where it's warm. Sometimes that's just where we need to be. My heart can be a pretty cold place unless I am willing to come inside to stoke the fire, the fire of compassion and love for those closest to me and for those whose lives I may only touch for a day. I will do this because of those who have observed me and watched out for me during the stormiest seasons of my life. Some knew my name, some never will, but still they prayed and I am convinced that I am who I am today because of it.

Thank you Lonnie, for teaching me again about seasons.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

To Smoke or Not to Smoke, That is the Question

After reading the following information I wondered if a person is better off risking the possibility of cancer. You decide.

Chantix is a prescription medicine to help adults 18 and over stop smoking.

Important Safety Information

Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using CHANTIX to help them quit smoking. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking CANTIX, and other developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stoping CHANTIX.......

Some people can have serious skin reactions while taking CHANTIX, some of which can become life-threatening.....

Patients also reported trouble sleeping, vivid, unusual, or strange dreams. Use caution driving or operating machinery until you know how CHANTIX may affect you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The New Zero

...and so here we are, a new year a new winter and the same complaints of the freezing temperatures. We are in the time of year when refer to a forecast temperature of 30 degrees as getting UP to 30 degrees where as just a few weeks ago the temperatures were going to get DOWN to 30 degrees. What is it, up or down? Nobody really knows. At our house we are divided on the seasons. My husband says that everyone gets to have one season to complain about. His is winter and mine is summer. I hate heat and humidity. He hates cold and snowy. Opposites attract, I guess.

I am proposing something new this year. A new way to measure temperatures. So, let's suppose that 70 degrees is the most agreeable temperature for all of us. And...lets suppose that Zero would be the perfect temperature and anything about or below that would be unacceptable. How will that work? In Kansas City today it is 10 degrees. That to any of us, including the winter lovers like me, is too cold. With the new system we would say that today is 60 degrees below comfortable. My dear friends in Iowa would say that yesterday was 82 degrees below comfortable. When summer comes any thing about the new zero would be calculated accordingly. What we know today as 90 degrees would simply be 20 degrees above comfort level. Are you following me on this?

These are the Random Thoughts of Amy Potts!

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