Friday, May 29, 2009

Judgment Day is Already Here

The good thing about this past year of economic distress and upheaval is that many of us have done a re-evaluation of what's important to us, what we need, what we can let go of, what really matters in the end.

If you didn't lose your job this year, you probably know someone who did. If you didn't tighten your belt, you probably know a family who has had to. But even if the nation's economic crisis hasn't hit home hard with you, undoubtedly it has affected you in some way.

My first instinct, when any type of crisis occurs, is to get through it. But after I've gone through a crisis- whether it's a health crisis or a financial crisis- then there's a need I have to know what I've gained from this tense situation. Did I learn anything? Is there something I needed to know- that I didn't know when the crisis was occurring? Is there something I gleaned from the situation?

Because, really, in my mind, why not at least benefit, in some way, from a crisis? Especially if you did not bring the crisis on yourself (that's a whole 'nother story), then why not get something good out of something painful? Why not really believe that "all things work together for good...." as Romans 8:28 explains.

This past year, my husband and I have hurdled over some tough times, blazed through some mental barricades, and struggled with some issues within us and around us that we knew we needed to deal with. We needed to not only make some decisions, but we actually had to make some judgment calls.

Oh, but that's a bad word to use around the Christian community! "Judge not that ye be not judged" will ring out before you can even explain what you're making a judgment on. You might even start to think that anything remotely having to do with making a judgment is bad- and therefore you could start to think you should never: make a decision, reach a conclusion, draw a boundary line in a relationship, or do anything related to deciding, discerning, evaluating, examining.

There's no basis for that type of erroneous thinking, though, if you look at 1 Corinthians 2: 9-16. The one line from this passage that make s a lot of Christians shudder is "But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one." The CEV version words it this way, "People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of judgements....".

Really? We can? We can make judgments on things that happen to us, situations we're in? God has given us His Spirit and this Spirit is a light within us, it's a lamp unto our feet, yes, and also a sword that slices through situations. It's not a kiddy light made of cheap plastic, that only works for a moment and then it's worthless.

I love how the CEV version highlights the benefit of having God's Spirit within us: "we can recognize the blessings that God has given us". Oh, I see! And if, by God's discerning Spirit within you, you can recognize the good blessings He means for you to have, by this very same Spirit you will also discern and see what is NOT God's will, what is not good for you, what is not advisable or helpful or instrumental in you growing in faith.

We make judgments so that we can conclude correctly what is of God and what is not of God or not God's will (or at least conclude that we're not sure what His will is, in certain situations). We make judgment calls because if we don't we become people who never have an opinion, a conclusion, or the ability to close a door that should be closed. We are people who CAN make judgments, who've been freed to make judgments, and therefore we will be "scrutinizing, examining, and investigating spiritual value and implications" (CEV commentary).

If something has value in your life, you have to see it, decide it's worth or recognize it's worth. The implications of what you choose and what you do not choose to think, do, believe, accept, reject- are vast. Your mental health is at stake. Your faith is at stake. Your understanding of God's will, His love, His ways of dealing with us, are all at stake here. These are the implications of everything we choose and don't choose. And no choice is made without a judgment call first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If You're Feeling Empty....Relax!

I've been rather quiet lately. At home, I mean. I still talk when I get together with people, friends, acquaintances, but then it seems like I'm done. Done talking. Done projecting my ideas and my conclusions. I really don't have too many of those anymore. I'm kinda empty. But in a good way.

I never realized that there are different kinds of emptiness. There's the emptiness you feel when you've lost a loved one, or you've lost a job, or you've lost your savings. There's also an empty feeling when you've been demeaned or despised. You can feel rather value-less and empty. It's a terrible feeling.

But then there's a kind of empty feeling when you've gone through a lot of stuff, dealt with a lot of junk, and now you're healed, possibly, but not exactly full of hope. Not yet. This is the time when dreams are germinating inside....again. This is the time when you're ready for a BIG idea from God- a new one- 'cause you're out of your own ideas. You're not feeling despair, just empty. Just ready for the New, cause you're done with the Old.

"Behold, I will do a NEW THING" God says to our empty hearts. We perk up and we sense how true that it is, and how ridiculous we've been to think we, ourselves, could usher in the new thing. We've been in our past and we are currently living out our present day. But we have not yet seen our future. God has, though. He's seen it all. And He's got a lot of new ideas that are bound to surprise us.

I haven't been very creative lately, although my cooking hasn't been terrible either. (But I am rotating the same dishes over and over.Last night was Grilled London Broil and Mashed Potatoes and Green beans. Nice, but not anything exciting).

I'm not writing anything amazing in my journal,either, and I haven't cooked up any crazy ideas lately, nor have I tried to entice my good friend, Mu, to do some kind of crazy adventure. She might just be a little empty herself- or at least a little tired. She certainly did a lot of energetic coaching and encouraging this past winter. It was a long winter, and I needed her help. She was there for me. She was really there.

Every time I try to pick myself up and get myself all energized to dream up some good career plans or income ideas or a potential house renovation, I feel God whispering to me "Relax." And implied in His message is the sense that I really couldn't do much more than relax and sink back into contemplation of the fact that the boundless possibilities I need to perceive are all going to come from Him anyways. So relax.

I've always had an issue with relaxing. The early bird gets the worm, not the relaxed bird. And I've somehow equated laziness with being relaxed. I'm sure some of this has to do with having a very industrious father who was an immigrant to this country.How many relaxed immigrants do you know? Nobody ever gets anywhere without a lot of hard work, diligent effort, striving, and persevering, right?

But then do these kind of hard working people know how to relax? And when do they relax? And do they struggle with feeling guilty when they relax? These are the things I want to know- and I think they are some of the best kept secrets.

I know very few relaxed Christians. It's a terrible indictment of us- as a people group. Nothing is more unattractive than a stressed out, uptight frowning Christian who tells you to put your trust in God and then you can have what they have- an uptight, stressed out life, but with salvation thrown in for good measure.

Lately it seems to me that to be relaxed, at peace, confident of God's love for you, that you would need the utmost of Faith. You would need to be someone who has heard God's heartbeat and you would need to be perceptive of God's good will for you. You would then anticipate good- not evil- from God. You would be able to be empty, and see it as a good thing- because you would anticipate that God loves to fill empty people- not empty them out further.

God doesn't deplete us. The world can do that. Unhealthy relationships can do that. Crises and problems can help to deplete you. But God fills you up. At least He desires to. Whether or not He can fill you to overflowing with love and hope may just depend on you and I seeing that He wants to.

And when we realize that we're empty, but we're reaching out to God for more-by Faith- then something good is about to happen. So relax. Loosen your shoulders. Take a deep breath. Act like your world is not collapsing, even if it feels like it is. And when someone asks you why you are so relaxed, tell them that you have no answers, no hope- apart from God- and therefore, you've got it made! You're more than fine. You're relaxed. Empty. And about to be filled to overflowing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To That Man in China

This guy is not falling- he was pushed. PUSHED, mind you. At an hour and time in his life when he was debating the merit and value of his soul, his life- and someone pushes him off because he's frustrated and tired of the traffic jams that this suicidal man, standing on a bridge, was causing. This AP Photo tells a lot already, but you can read more about it here.

What's wrong with people that they can't seem to find empathy for someone in trouble- if it means that their own life will be inconvenienced or troubled momentarily?? Have we really come down to this- selfish anger over someone else who we feel is "selfishly" in trouble?

It seems that this is the underlying issue in this extreme case. One man is fed up and tired of those who are not stable and strong and successful. And maybe there's an underlying attitude here that the Pusher, in this story, felt- that if you're going to cause problems in society by not pulling your own weight, then at least fall apart quietly and away from my view and my route so that I am not hindered or inconvenienced by your agony!

Yes, according to Sir Walter Scott, its a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive, but it's a muddy, very deep hole we fall in when second we practise to add to some one's despair! From what I understand of the story, the Pusher guy was first going to try to talk the man down, but then he got fed up with it all, slipped through the police barricade, went up to the man and shook his hand- and then pushed him.

He survived the fall- but will he survive what happened to him? He was already battling mental illness of some kind, but maybe what he was battling was that he saw cruelty and meanness in the world and maybe nobody was agreeing with him. Maybe people made light of the heaviness and depression in his soul. His personal financial crisis was also enough that the man contemplated what no one should ever get to the point of contemplating. But we do. We sometimes get to a place in life where things look so bleak, so dark, so uncertain that we are not only beside ourselves, we are sick of our self, perhaps. And that's a scary place to be- if you have no friend, no dear one, to talk you down from your perilous perch on the top of a bridge.

Last night we got together with a couple I've known for a couple years, and my best friend Mu also, and we had a feast of fellowship. There was no pushing anyone over the edge. There was simply a lot of understanding, of "getting it", of camaraderie, of intuitive listening and a lot of nodding of head in agreement. We've experience some tough times, each of us, and we understood what the other was sharing.

I haven't felt that wealthy in a long time. You are rich when you have dear loving friends, when you have people who " get you", who know you, who see your value and your heart. You are not alone- when you are known.

I wish I could get a message to the man who was pushed from the bridge. I'd tell him that what happened to him was horrible beyond belief. But I'd also tell him that I'm so sorry that he got to the point in his life that he was so despairing of life and found himself on that bridge. I'd tell him that many times, many people have gotten to crisis points in their life, and we've all been on a type of bridge, at some point in our life.

The Apostle Paul, himself, had battled despair. At one point, Paul stated that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of our life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

But did you see that little tiny word in the above passage? Did you note that he said "we were burdened beyond measure"? There's nothing worse than being burdened and alone. But if we can go through tough times and crisis points with the arm of fellow comrade or friend around our shoulders, how blessed we are- even if we are blessed and burdened at the same time.

I'm so sorry, dear sir in South China, that you were burdened beyond belief. But I'm even more sorry that you felt so alone. I hope you feel the love and the prayers of those of us who have decided you shall not be alone anymore. We bathe you in our prayers. We uphold you with loving support, and we tell God- help this man, please. Overwhelm him not with trouble, but with your love. Let him know he is not alone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And That's How HE Sees it

I've put it off long enough, and if I put it off any longer I will be a walking menace to society. Or a driving menace, rather. I need to get new lenses. Which requires an eye exam. Which requires me making the appointment and then realizing that I should pick out new frames while I'm at it. And frankly, the choices of eye glass frames are too many. So I'm tempted by my stay-in-the-safe-zone nature to just keep my old glassess and muddle on as I am- out dated and out of focus.

Except that I really do want to see clearly. I can't stand being in the dark about things. Lately I realize that the term "walking by faith" is not that accurate a description. Sometimes Faith is more of a frantic groping for something firm, stumbling in the dark, walking into No Where Land. When you "see" nothing before you, and you still remember your convictions of God's Love and His promised presence, that's when you are carrying the torch of Faith. It's blazing and it's bright- but it still doesn't light the path before you. You still may be in the dark about a lot of things.

I was reading through one of my favorite chapters, Hebrews 11, when I noticed how often the term "did not see" was mentioned or alluded to. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible...must believe that HE is (even though you can't see God)...By faith, Noah being warned of things not yet seen....Abraham...went out, not knowing where he was going (He didn't see "Homeland" in blazing lights before him.Probably all he saw was dust in the wind!).

There's more and more references to this factor of trusting God and hearing Him though you don't see Him. Though you don't see how He can get you to where you need to be. Though you don't see the solution or even see how there could possibly be one.

It seems God really gets psyched about our belief in His ability to be Everything we need- to the point that what we see-or don't see before us- becomes irrelevant. God loves people who not only walk by faith, but live by faith, stumble ahead by faith, keep the faith.

There's a fine line between being faith-filled and being filled with foolishness and stupidity. Frankly, the account of Noah building an ark, by faith, doesn't help us walk this fine line. I don't know that I would hang out with any Noahs today. I don't like crazy Christians, weird religious people, extreme fanatics. They scare me. They probably scare you too.

But I don't care for drippy drab middle-of-the line-believers either. There's nothing powerful or inspiring about someone who never takes risks, never believes big, and never gets near to looking ridicuolous- because they were moved by faith. And it seems God isn't too big on these kind of people either.

He's ready to reward those who believe in His amazing power and love. He's looking for those radicals who will draw nearer to Him at the risk of becoming a little too risky in their behavior. He's not looking to make anyone become a weirdo or a nutcase. It's just that in this strange world we live in, people moved by faith look even stranger.

But remember, what you see is not everything. We have yet to see and experience the wonder of what God wants to do in our lives if we will just rely less on what we see and instead hang on to the One who sees it ALL.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pizza, Polls, and Potential

What a beauty! Yes the picture is a bit blurry, but the taste was superb. The yellow peppers, particularly, were sweet and juicy and mixed well with the sweet onion and olive oil drizzled all over it.

Alex made a calzone that had so many layers of cheese, we estimated the cost for the cheese alone to be over $10! So remember, making homemade pizza is not always cost effective- but who says everything has to be economical?!

Now this post has nothing to do with the deep things of life, and is not about wrestling with fear, or probing the underworld of subconscious thought, or dealing with the intricate issues that come up when you explore what faith is.

This post is simply about the kind of joy that you taste with your mouth. It's about taking time to do things like make homemade pizza and make a mess while you're at it. Staying neat and clean is over rated!

(P.S. Have you taken the poll on the right side column of the blog? Step right up and vote for your favorite pizza topping. Vote now! Not because it's going to cause world peace or create some huge change for good, but simply because its your vote, its your opinion...and it matters!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Swimming WITH the Tide

It's pizza night tonight. Our creative juices are flowing and we are anticipating the feel of the pizza dough in our hands, the taste of the cheese melting in our mouth, the music playing loudly (I think it will be Kenny G tonight) and the sense of satisfaction we get from eating something delicious that we know how to make. We started out with some doughy crust, wrong sauce, not enough onions or mushrooms, and over time, we developed our pizazz with pizza- and boy are we glad!

We're pretty good at making pizza. And we're good at other things too. And of course, there's some things we're not too good at: like washing windows ( I do them intermittently- not regularly, like my mother did), keeping our car clean inside (it's more of a traveling trash and storage bin), and taking better care of Harry's ears (they should be cleaned regularly, but he dreads this, I dread doing it, and doesn't get done that often).

I can tell you the things we're not good at- that I know we're not good at. But I can't tell you about the things we are failing in if I'm not yet aware of those things. And lately, I've been noticing how a lot of people's relationships, and sense of confidence and self awareness, have to do with our competencies and with our awareness of our competencies. And vice versa- cause you don't know what you don't know.

That's why I've thoroughly enjoyed reading Noah St John's book, The Secret Code of Success, because he delves into the some interesting issues having to do with success, competence, the sub conscious, and choice. He talks about the factor of being "unconsciously competent at allowing yourself to succeed". There are many people doing amazing things and doing them well- and yet they are not necessarily applying themselves more or working harder than someone else who is not succeeding in their attempt at something. They might just be unconsciously competent at something you can't, for the life of you, do.

Our family, for example, does not diligently work at making pizza night a success (but perhaps you might find it a lot of work and too much mess). It just is a Success because of many reasons: 1) I come from a long line of cooks/chefs (not professional ones, just people who loved to eat, knew how to work with food, and enjoyed doing it every day), so my husband and children have acclimated to this syndrome of always "working with" our food and enjoying the process, 2) This is how we cut loose and be loud and crazy and it really is good for our family to express itself this way, and 3) we love to taste the fruit of our labor- literally.

This is just an example- our pizza night- of one of our successes. Success has to do with flowing in a gift, reaping the fruit of your labor, and enjoying the process. Success is NOT about straining and striving and trudging up hill, against the grain, against the flow. Success is about Releasing your gift, Rejoicing in how God made you, and Remembering that God invented the whole process of sowing and reaping, of planting and harvesting. A successful day is a day lived fully. A successful family is a family being who they are, realizing their uniqueness, treasuring their time together.

I'm just thinking about that word a lot, lately. I'm seeing Success in a whole new light- and I'm seeing myself in a whole new way too. I've looked at certain so-called successful people, in the past, and thought they were successful because they were amazingly good at certain things that I could not do or achieve, like they did. Now I see that they may have simply- not heroically- been flowing in a gift, swimming with the tide- not against it.

It may be that I've spent too much time swimming against the current. I may have needlessly climbed too many mountains- instead of skiing or coasting down the mountains and yelling out deliriously with joy as I did. Maybe Success is more at my fingertips than I realized. It's like God- He's right there. He's not far away. And what a joyous discovery we make when we discover this truth!

So yeah, tonight is Pizza Night. It's an expression of who we are as a family. It's a night when our creativity flows. We're in the groove. We're in the Zone. We'll celebrate all that comes easily to us, all that we know how to do and that we thank God we know how to do. We rejoice in our competencies. Cause there's plenty of time to be aware of weaknesses and lack. Tonight we celebrate abundance and we celebrate Success. And it not only feels good to do so, but it sure tastes good too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Alive and Kicking

What a week! Yesterday was the first day I did not have a doctor's visit scheduled for my son, Alex. This was a scary Asthma attack- the worst he's had in a long time. But the strangest thing about this stressful week was that it was also blissful. Really.

Part of the bliss was that our family was together. Having our son home from college- even if he was very sick and half out of it, at times- was like finding something that I had lost and didn't know I lost. I missed my son this year- terribly. And I didn't know how much I missed him; didn't know how much our home needed him here to make us all feel alive and together and blessed.

So yes- my week was blessed and stressed. But as he got better, day by day, my joy increased. Our laughter rang out. Harry, the couch potato that he is, got even more relaxed. The house got messier. Our schedule revolved around asthma treatments and medicine and cooking the most nutritious meals I could think of. And our home swelled with love.

Now, don't think I'm forgetting how much my son turns me gray! He still likes to push the envelope, stress me out, assert his individuality, stay up late, play his music loud. But you might say I am also going through a new stage in my life, in my faith: I am launching out into the deep, radically choosing right things for me, purposefully carving out a path that I would want to stay on and not just try out temporarily. I'm asserting myself, too- and I might just blast my music loudly!

I've been taking deep breaths and sighing with contentment lately. There's a sense of God's goodness all around me that I am more aware of than I ever have before. And the opportunity to choose Good, choose well and choose wisely, is before me in clear sight. There's a lot of things I have to make decisions about, but I am not feeling that stressed about these choices.

So while my college-aged son may live life loud and messily this summer, he is also going to have a mom who is feeling her youth being renewed, her stamina recharged, her sense of adventure whetted and ignited. Life is for the living. I'm alive and well. And more than that, I'm glad that I am.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thank You for the Present

Dear Bill, Alex, Abby- and of course, Harry- and all the rest of you precious ones,

Thank you for a most interesting and precious Mother's Day. The fact that we were all together- at home, at the hospital emergency room, back at home again- well, that's what made the day so valuable, even if it was stressful at times.

Of course we started the day right, didn't we? I made the best french toast ever- even if I almost burned the bacon. But that was right after you told me, Alex, that you didn't feel well and wanted to see the doctor. Then I knew you were really sick. So we ate our breakfast and hurried off to the doctor appointment I made. Thank God, literally, that our pediatrician's office was on call this weekend. And that they're only a two minute trip away by car. And that they know you and your history of asthma and pneumonia, and that they take such good care of you always. Thank God.

And of course when they told us we needed to take you to the emergency room, thank God they called ahead and requested that you be seen immediately upon entering the Emergency room. We had packed a bag of snacks and water bottles because we thought it might be a long day at the emergency room. Dad packed the snacks because he thought ahead. he always does. And Abby was organized and efficient as ever- like a second junior mother. I told her she'd be a great nurse, while we were waiting for the doctor's assessment of Alex's breathing, but that I didn't want her to be a nurse because the job was so hard and stressful and grueling. She assured me she didn't want to be a nurse either- but then we thanked God for those people who did. Thank God for nurses.

The X-ray showed Alex did have pneumonia- and I thought it would be the case. Mother's intuition. I felt relieved that antibiotics would soon be doing their incredible work in your body and that you'd respond to them and start to improve. The breathing treatments and steroids had already worked their wonder on you, Alex, and I suddenly remembered that I should remember to breathe. I hold my breath a lot, unconsciously, when I'm stressed out. Abby patted my hand a lot while we were at the emergency room- but we also laughed together over the funny and often sarcastic comments that you often make, Alex. We knew you'd be okay because you had enough strength to be your witty wonderful self- even if you do like to push the envelope and my hot buttons all at the same time.

When we got home, Harry was there, waiting for us, all placid and calm. I felt like a wreck- especially after I got all the prescriptions filled at the nearby pharmacist. Thank God for pharmacists. I talked with our doctor by phone to decide which medicines Alex needed more of and assured her we would call again in the morning and come in to have them check on Alex again.

So we did what we always do if we're feeling happy to be together as a family, and hungry as well- we made homemade pizza. Probably the best pizzas we ever made. Or was it because everyone ( but me) ate them so gratefully and hungrily- and with relief. I ate with relief, at least; the little I could eat. I was just glad we were all well- or at least on our way to being well.

Bill folded laundry- because Alex had only come home the night before (he came home sick, exhausted, and with a ton of dirty laundry), and already my husband found a way to accomplish several loads of wash during the stressful day we just had. So Bill folded laundry and I collapsed on the bed.Abby gave me a foot rub. Then I coaxed Alex to lie down and relax and he finally gave in and collapsed on the bed next to me. Harry jumped up on the bed and joined us. And we were one happy family. I felt such bliss- cause we made it through the day and even had some fun delicious moments interspersed through the day.

So what if I spent my Mother's Day at the doctor's office and then Emergency room and then finally back at home. We spent it together.My kids are with me. I had incredible help and support from all kinds of wonderful people throughout the day.

You might just say that it was probably the best Mother's Day I've ever had. Cause all throughout the day I was so aware of how so many people do so much to help so many. Mothers need these kind of people in their lives. Every one needs helpful people in their life. And they are out there.

So thank you, everyone who touched our life yesterday; thank you for the best present I could have on Mother's Day. You all helped me survive as a mother- and more than that, I triumphed. Cause love conquers all. And there was a lot of love yesterday. An awful lot of love.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Quote for the Week

"The word progress comes from the Latin progredi, which means 'to step forward'. Life is not about being perfect; it's about having the courage to move forward one step at a time."

-Noah St. John, Author

Monday, May 04, 2009

Every Time I Eat an Avocado

I stuffed myself with more fajitas than I should have eaten, really- but only because I had put chopped avocado in the fajitas I custom designed, and I just can't say no to avocado or anything that has avocado in it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on a half a ripe avocado and eat it right out of the skin. Delicious.

I never eat an avocado without thinking of my Dad. Never. He was the one who introduced me to the taste of avocado- as well as to any other interesting, exotic, foreign flavor. Dad would be eating an avocado with a spoon and glancing over at me (well, glancing down at me, because I was little) and he would purse his lips and murmur how delicious it was and how I could not have any avocado.

But maybe someday I might be able to taste it, he would add. Someday. And so one day after he thought I had waited long enough, had longed for it long enough (because that was what he was trying to do- get me to long for something I wouldn't have normally longed for), he gave me a taste of it. And of course, I loved it. Mission accomplished.

So tonight, like several nights a week, I ate half an avocado, thought of my Dad, remembered how he wanted to always introduce me to the best and brightest of flavors and experiences. He still wants me to have the best of experiences. I thought of him tonight, and I thought of how he was trying so hard to be tender and caring with my Mom the other day.

Mom's not doing too well. It's getting bad again- the depression, her desire to stay in bed, the fear. I didn't handle it well. I had gone over for a visit and tried to get my Mom to enjoy the new clothes we had bought her: soft, pastel cotton tops, comfortable velour sweat pants, a sweater with pockets for her tissues. But that kind of comfort and beauty wasn't going to meet her need that day.

Dad was patient. He tried to talk to her and get her to accept our love, our help, our interest in trying to make things nicer for her. We wanted her to come for a drive with us, and get a bite to eat. She wanted to stay in bed. She wanted to sleep and let the world fade away- let whatever was bothering her fade into dreamland. She closed her eyes and took her nap. We took a deep breath...and went out for a quick lunch. And the world went on. I came home. Went to sleep. Got up today. Went about my day. Enjoyed the sunlight. Ate an avocado tonight.

This has been a long journey. Our whole family is on an interesting bumpy, uphill, sometimes downhill journey. It's a long journey spiced with good memories and sometimes sad ones, and flavored with love, salty tears, trying times, special times, and yes, the wonderful taste of avocado.