Monthly Archives: July 2010

The View from Here

President Obama spent the day yesterday chatting it up with the women on the television show, “The View.”

While the President was on the curvy couch discussing Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson’s celebrity status, the Boy Scouts of America were gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 100th anniversary of the National Jamboree. It was a historic event.  It was a time to recognize young Americans for their service to our communities and our country. It was a time to inspire, motivate and elevate a positive cause that has an impact on future generations.

It’s not surprising that our President would decline an invitation to attend the Jamboree in trade for a gossip television show. He’s concerned about his popularity. The pesky war in Afghanistan and a major oil spill has really put a dent in his shiny image. He needed to save face fast. A celebrity appearance on the View was his window of opportunity. I’m sure it was an easy decision. In fact, Obama’s only decisive actions have centered on himself and his party’s politics. There has been little or no evidence of self-sacrifice, service or overt displays of patriotism from his administration. Those qualities are not in vogue in America. I guess that’s why he also skipped the Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington this year. It is an outdated custom…right?!? Plus, those folks in a cemetary are dead; they can’t vote anyway.

Ironically, during one of my husband’s combat missions in Afghanistan someone made the connection that every soldier present had been a Boy Scout. In fact, most of them had earned the highest honor and award of Eagle Scout. This is an unlikely coincidence. Their experiences as boys no doubt molded and shaped them into the men they are today. Service, sacrifice and love of country were lessons taught and carried into their adult lives. These soldiers deserve to be honored and their children waiting patiently at home should be recognized for their sacrifice and contribution to this country. It would be interesting to learn how many boys attending the Jamboree have a veteran in their immediate household. The  numbers would probably be staggering and much more meaningful than any political poll.

The President missed another opportunity on Thursday.

I guess Obama is thinking that he’ll get to swing by “that boy scout thing”  in another four years during his second term.  And the dead soldiers at Arlington…well, where are they going?!? They’ll definitely still be there, maybe on a Wednesday or a non-holiday weekend when his schedule is less full with parties, fundraisers or posing for a photo spread in GQ magazine.

Our Commander-in-Chief is a rock star. He’s offering America hope and change through the venues they worship and idolize. He’s feeding the beast.

Meanwhile, thousands upon thousand of secret documents are leaked on a website that prides itself in being a whistle blowing operation. The problem is… the whistle only blows in the direction of their agenda which is bent on taking down America and the military that was created to defend it. 

What is gained by releasing this information? Does anyone feel better or smarter? Who did it help?

It certainly didn’t help my husband serving in a war zone, his comrades or the Afghan people.

The weasel sitting anonymously behind his computer will get fifteen minutes of fame and probably a Wikipedia entry. So… it was worth it right?!?

The President’s response to the Wikileak was luke warm at best…. “This is nothing new.”

Unfortunately, he’s right.

There’s not much left that’s sacred in America. We live in a world where sin is a cliché.

I pray for the future of my children.

Which reminds me of this Bible verse:  “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.
— 2 Timothy 3:1–3

Paul must have had a vision of this past week in the news. His words to Timothy are prophetic.



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A Birthday for Boots

 I missed Chris Neeley more than ever today.

As you age, birthdays become less about the gifts and more about the people who surround you.

Chris and I recognize that every moment and memory is a treasure. We have been given an opportunity to see things with fresh eyes. I don’t think we will ever view birthdays, holidays or even the everyday in the same light.  We have been given the gift of perspective. We can stand back and see how precious our time together is and not take it for granted. We can see when petty issues arise, call it just that and not get bogged down. We can drop to our knees, thank God for who He is and really mean it because we have subsisted on His sovereignty.

A year ago, I can’t say I understood what I know today.

Exactly one year ago, I was at Disney World with my family. Chris was insistent that I go to Disney World for the first time on my 38th birthday. He was “Clark Griswold” on a mission. He planned the family vacation of a lifetime and Lindsey Buckingham was singing “Holiday Road” as we pulled out of the driveway (not kidding). I was living what I thought was the ” American Dream.” It truly was a fantastic birthday in a magical kingdom.

I never imagined that my 39th birthday might not include Chris by my side.

We take so much for granted. We waste so much time analyzing motives, moods and miscommunications. It is all utterly and completely useless. What an awful misuse of the gifts we have been given!

When you travel down the pathless road I’m on… it’s not about where you are, but who you’re with that really matters. It all boils down to simple things.  As Chris Neeley says, “The enemy cannot compete against a giving heart”…and I might also add…the enemy is completely defeated by love.

My birthday wish is that you are surrounded by love and the ones you love. It’s the greatest gift of all.

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Yesterday, I took Tuck and my nephew to our neighborhood pool. It was an experience and surprisingly, it  had nothing to do with the two little boys I had in tow.

You see, our neighborhood pool is rarely used. It’s odd if more than one family is present during the weekday. I have come to enjoy this “private” pool experience and will admit that the solitude has spoiled me to some extent. That’s why I was immediately rattled when I walked into the pool area and heard music blasting from the cabana. At first, I wondered if someone had reserved the area for a pool party and thought twice about turning towards home but… there didn’t seem to be a crowd. Instead, I found a “twenty something” fella dancing alone beside the pool. He was clearly enjoying his music, his cooler and the pool.  He had a fresh bottle of Hawaiian Tropic oil and was spraying himself generously as if he was about to enter a Muscle Milk contest. (This year I’m really making an attempt to focus on the positive)…So I will say this…thank goodness he chose to wear board shorts instead of a speedo for this special occasion (I’m also thinking … that fashion decision was made before he packed and opened his cooler…whew, good news!!!). Otherwise, I might need more UV eye protection than my sunglasses would offer.

Anyway… this scene was not lost on my little companions. My nephew leaned over and asked me, “Aunt Janie, is that what you call sunbathing?!?”…  I think our “new  friend’s” personal party was somewhat jarring for him. I doubt Nick has ever been to a public pool that didn’t involve a country club membership.  Tuck on the other hand… saw or I should say…heard… things from my point of view. He said, “I don’t know what he’s doing, but his music stinks.”

Yep, that’s right…Tuck could care less about the bad dancing, the orange tan or the abundant wine coolers. What he disliked the most about this guy was that he had terrible taste in music.  (Way to go little man….your mama has taught you well!!!).

Our macho nacho “friend” had obviously just downloaded Pink’s latest album to his Ipod. I say “just” downloaded because you could tell he was still learning most of the lyrics to his favorite songs. We were all painfully aware of this learning curve. I will also say…Pink is no Morrissey (i.e. the words to her songs are not deep and will usually repeat). In the case of his “most favorite” song on the Pink playlist…a chorus was bludgeoned into our brains that repeated the phrase…”This used to be a funhouse…”

Yes, my friend…the pool is no longer a “funhouse” either…at least when you have Pink and Pool Boy dancing around.

Now, don’t get  me wrong…I love music. I have quite an eclectic collection and I spend more than I’d like to admit on I-Tunes. It has been a hobby of sorts for me since I was a kid. BUT…I like “good” music and in my opinion, Pink doesn’t fall into that category.  So in honor of Pool Boy and Pink…I’ve decided to put together a summer playlist. These are the songs the kids and I listen to as we ride around in Big Red with the windows down cruising through town. They are the perfect summer anthemns….so grab a bottle coke and peanuts…roll down the windows in your car…and crank it up! It’s time to be a little rocknoxious and teach Pink a thing or two about music.


1.  “How You Like Me Now”  artist: The Heavy – album: The House that Dirt Built 

This is Tuck’s favorite song this summer. He sits in his car seat with his shades on and nods his head to the beat like a cool cat. I have to admit…this is a “cool cat” song. It makes you want to drive somewhere on an open highway….with James Brown.

2. “Tighten Up”  artist: The Black Keys – album: Brothers

There was a tie between this song and another one called “Next Girl” by this band. I love both of them, but “Tighten Up” has whistling at the beginning…and who can resist that?!?  Plus it’s a modern song that reminds me of something my parents might have listened to in the 60’s or 70’s.

3. “My Doorbell”  artist: The White Stripes – album: Get Behind Me Satan

This song makes me laugh. I really like the album title…it kind of sums up my year and trying to manage everything here at home.  It’s a song like black licorice….you either love it or hate it.

4. “I Turn My Camera On”  artist: Spoon – album: Gimme Some Fiction

This isn’t a new song, but I still like it. You can’t help but tap your foot and bob your head to this tune. It’s another driving song.

5. “Old Man” artist: The Wailin’ Jennys – album: 40 Days

I never cared for Neil Young or his Canadian arrogance…but I love this version of his song. The Wailin’ Jennys are an amazing group.

6.  “Ain’t No Grave”  artist: Crooked Still – album: Shaken by a Low Sound

This is my version of praise music. If Jesus was in a band…I think it would be a bluegrass one.  The lyrics to this song remind me… things won’t always be like this.

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Fourth of July

Today our church dedicated it’s service to a patriotic theme and honored our veterans.

At one point, each branch of the military service was recognized and members of the church who had served in that branch were asked to stand when their song was played. When the Army flag entered the sanctuary and the theme song played, Tucker jumped to his feet and stood up. Immediately, someone  sitting close by tugged on his coat and told him to… “sit down”… in essence …that’s not for you, you’re just a kid…not a soldier.

In truth Tuck is not yet a man or a soldier,  but I disagree about whether or not he deserved to stand.

In my opinion, Tuck is serving. At six years old  he understands more about sacrifice than most adults ever will.  For him, a year without his father is an eternity. These are days he will never get back. He is serving his country. Today, Tucker Neeley deserved to stand.  Unfortunately, after he was “scolded” … he sat down and hid his face. He refused to get back up. Jordan looked over at me with tears rolling down her cheeks. We exchanged a knowing glance.

I can’t even describe the range of emotions that ran through me.  Mainly hurt for Tuck, but also genuine frustration that so few people truly understand what this year has been like for us. A lot of comparisons have been thrown out and I’m not arguing that life is not full of difficult circumstances, but serving during a war is a unique experience. There are no comparisons. Plain and simple.

Only the ones who have walked in our shoes can grasp the full weight and meaning behind the sacrifice that makes the 4th of July possible.

You have the right to sit because someone stood up.


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