Sunday, April 30, 2006
The 2nd of these challenges I found initially at "Just Peachy" and it's called 'I am from'. As I did my weekly 'blog surf' I see that many people are and have done this challenge. Check it out, think on it and put it down.
Here is the 1st...
Sr. Claire Joy @ Flavor of the Month has a challenge and I think it’s wonderful!
“Okay... here's a creative project: pick a character from the Bible— one you don't like, can't forgive, have huge judgments about. Is it Satan? Judas? Amnon? (He would be high on my list.) Write a story that helps explain why this person might have done what they did. It's a little like walking a mile in another's shoes...”
This piqued my interest first because I love to get insight from other ‘seekers’ and I love to discuss these same insights. Okay so the blogdom is probably not the MOST conducive manner to facilitate this…but it’s a start. Secondly, this particular challenge is God-timed because I had been struggling with David and his ‘position’ and really needed to find a way to see David through God’s eyes.
Yes I realize it may seem ludicrous to some people that I could hold anything against David, "a man after God's own heart" but I do. So this challenge comes at a time of redirection in my own life. Enough ado...
What bothers me most about David is his interruption of a sacred marriage for his own desire. David desired Bathsheba but she was married. Bathsheba became pregnant with David's baby. David had Bathsheba's husband, one of his own soldiers (Uriah) killed, then took her as his wife. David is a man after God's own heart? These sentences seem in conflict to me. This begs a look back...
David was a boy when he received a "call" from God...a prophetic message that was both overwhelming and unbelievable to his family. They didn't understand how this young, scrawny, sheep herder could be God's anointed one. They were highly skeptical of this news. How that must have hurt young David, though he didn't show it. I think it must have felt very much like Cinderella and the 'glass slipper fitting'. He probably sat down with the sheep and penned a poem, or a song thanking God and lamenting that his family could be so uncertain of this gift.
What I read is that David took it all stride and thanked God and worshipped God for this incredible news. When David was first called on by King Saul it was to minister to him in music. You see David was an incredible musician. I'm not sure how highly held musicians were during this time but I think about now how my own parents pleaded with my brother not to pursue a 'career' in music (regardless of his gift) because it wasn't a respected career.
David was informed if he slayed "Goliath", he would receive the King's daughter in marriage as reward. It's clear to me that David was a ladies man and would have been the guy that all the girls flocked to. He's young, virile, seemingly fearless, a musician...what more could a young woman want?
Once David slayed Goliath, King Saul took him in and David became family, not only in marriage to the King's daughter, but as a BEST FRIEND to Jonathan, the King's son. David finally found a "Father" who would invest not only his time, but his very life and kingdom. Saul seemed to love David...until the day it went bad...
That was the day David and Saul returned from battle and the women spoke higher of David then the King. King Saul was furious and hated David out of jealousy and pride. David spent the next 14 years hiding and fleeing the King and his 3,000 soldiers. I can't imagine what this must have felt like. Even when David had the opportunity to kill Saul he wouldn't do it out of respect for Saul's position of leadership over him. I'm not sure I could have remained this strong.
Eventually King Saul repented to God when he saw what he had become. He was killed by one of his own...along with his sons...one of which was Jonathan. In one full "swoop" David lost his King, his mentor, his father and his brother, his best-friend. Remember David was also a musician, and I know musicians are highly emotional people. I'm sure this loss was HUGE to David. I'm sure his grief was enormous. The loss that led to his ultimate God-anointed position of King, was at a huge cost to David.
And so, as I re-approach the time in David's life when he manipulated Uriah (to the point of death), to have Bathsheba as his wife, I can begin to see how he would make questionable decisions. I can see how there were a number of times when the power David held as King trumped the desire of his heart to please and serve God. I can see he is human. I can see he made mistakes and paid with the life of his first child with Bathsheba. I can see he even paid with Solomon. I can see God's love for David AND God's judgment of David.
I am able to forgive David because I can see that even with the label of "a man after God's own heart", he is still...only a man.
We all have a call on our lives. I pray that we would each seek it with such certainty as David did and that we would learn from those who walked before us...drawing both from the right and the wrong.
Friday, April 28, 2006
A brief history:
1987: In January Oral Roberts said that God spoke to him and told him that he had not sent out any medical missionaries from the university or City of Faith. God instructed him to raise $8 million by March of the same year or God would take him home (presumably God would kill Oral Roberts or translate him to heaven like Enoch).The money raised was to provide full scholastic scholarships for medical missionaries who would be sent to other countries.
He claimed that $3.5 million had already been raised, but he needed $4.5 million more by March 1, in order to get the full $8 million and prevent God from taking him home.
1987: On April 1 Oral Roberts said that he had received $9.1 million which was $1.1 million more that was required by God.
1987: In November, Oral Roberts announced that the City of Faith would be closing down.
1988: In January, Oral Roberts discontinued the medical scholarships. Apparently he was no longer afraid that God was going to take him home.
1988: In March, the medical scholarship fund went bankrupt. If any students wished to transfer to any other institution, they were required to repay their scholarships at 18% interest.
1989: In September, Oral Roberts closed the City of Faith.
From what I read this morning Oral Roberts moved to Palm Springs and his son now owns this business and all the debt along with it.
It’s sad really. Church has evolved from capital “C” Church (what God had in mind), to lowercase “c” church (a building we’ve created to protect our beliefs) to one of the greatest SHOWS on earth. Big, BIGGER, BIGGEST, is the theme!
The mega-churches almost feel like they are more about the PRODUCTION of church under the guise of the EXPERIENCE of church then the biblical meaning of CHURCH.
I’m not saying I don’t enjoy being entertained…I do! I just don’t think it’s a requirement for my salvation. I don’t think the money spent on the production of church brings and grows more believers then the disciples did through community and just doing life together.
It’s disheartening to me to hear a co-worker of mine (another Christian) speak of a video she viewed at her MEGA-church from one of the 1st MEGA-churches in Oklahoma City (back in the 80’s). She was telling me about it this morning and pointed out that it was filmed at this GIANT church up in Tulsa and it cost big bucks. To her it was “amateurish”.
She attends a church of over 20,000 members and everything is done to a “T”. It’s hard for me to even fathom a church that size. The paid staff is several hundred people and even the childcare workers on Sunday are paid. On that same note, it’s hard for me to “believe” a pastor preaching about doing without, when he’s making the top half of a six figure salary. I suppose that’s why God didn’t place me there, now isn’t it. How much do I THINK a pastor should make?...another post
Our expectations of church have grown to exponential proportions. I wouldn’t want to be a pastor during this day and age simply for the fact of competition and potential of losing sight of the “calling” for the theatrics. Sometimes it feels like there is so much concern with the numbers (how many came, how many gave, how many were saved) that the relationship is dropped and lost along the way. BIGGER is BETTER is the underlying philosophy.
Today’s mega-churches have video-feed pastors. HEY, wait…we wouldn’t have to PAY a pastor if we just CREATE one and air our ‘video-pastor’! He’d be perfect! I think I’m on to something here…
How’s this for an intimate touch.
I can imagine it 10 years from now: Welcome to MEGACHURCH! If you are here for the first time, sit back, relax and enjoy the complimentary popcorn and soda, the show will begin in 5 minutes.
CUT TO ENDING: We hope you enjoyed CHURCH today. If you are here for salvation, please press 1. If you are here for prayer requests, please press 2. If you are here to rededicate your life to Christ, please press 3. If you are here to see “Ice-Age 2” you need to move to auditorium 3. If you are here to speak to a pastor, please leave you name and a number where you can be reached and you will be contacted within 24 hours. If you are here to see what the fuss is all about, we hope you enjoyed MEGACHURCH. Please insert your credit card to pay tithes or give to any of the ministries listed on your touch panel. The next service will be aired in 15 minutes. Please leave the auditorium in an orderly fashion. God bless you!
One of the harshest realities I ever faced in serving at church is that church is a business. Yuck! It puts such a bad taste in my mouth, even knowing this is reality! When I think BUSINESS…I think CORRUPTION. That may be my own perception, but it exists all the same.
Thankfully our current church is a business ~ secondary to being a gathering place of believers, non-believers, sick, well, hurting, celebrating, dying, living…everyone!
I wonder if the post-modern shift and evolution of church will see home-churches as the norm and whether this will draw us closer or even further from the original intent. I wonder if online churches will become the ‘norm’ in our digital age. My brother used to joke about starting a church in a mall. From what I understand, we are shifting back to ‘strip malls’ and away from mega-malls. My current church meets in a ‘strip mall’ so my brother was just a bit before his time apparently.
It could just be my own “Baby-Boomer” conflict with the “Gen-Xer’s” ideal (let alone the Echo-Boomers) or my romanticizing of what church used to be. I have already shared that the memories I hold are bittersweet and nothing disturbs me greater then hearing old HYMNS because of the immediate flashback to those days. Wouldn’t you know Contemporary Christian Music is shifting BACK to RE-mixed Hymns. I know God is laughing about it.
It seems a bit as though our EVOLUTION of church is actually coming full circle and we may once again embrace community and relationship in the flesh. I’m looking forward to this. I hope I’m here to see it.
Thank you for attending this blog session today. We hope you enjoyed the show…
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Every once in awhile, perhaps when I have too much free time at work, or things are not going as I THINK they should…I begin to wonder…
What if it’s all a dream? What if this truly is like the Matrix? What if this is someone else’s dream world and I don’t even exist outside this plane? What then?
It could help explain some of my unexplainable behaviors…that would be nice, truly OUT of my control, not OUT of my mind. It could also help explain the waves of in-flux emotionalism I tend to ride throughout the week, day, minute! It could definitely explain why there is SO much I don’t understand about what’s going on around me…even to me!
On some level it would be freeing to know this is only reality in someone’s mind. Maybe it would even help alleviate some of my own stressors if I stop to think this is only a dream…it doesn’t really matter what you wear or if your hair looks right or if you make a fool of yourself…It’s all just a dream…
This is the “playground of my mind” today. If you’re here with me, shout out and let me know how you know it’s all real. What are the indicators in your life that prove to you we are not in a Matrix? What makes a life?
Now, I’m off to see the wizard...where are my ruby slippers?
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The past couple of days the building has been SCREAMING. It doesn’t just purr in activity, it screams in silence. It is making this horrible noise at JUST the right frequency to fill my ears and head. I asked other people if they heard it and so far…nada! I was beginning to feel embarrassed by this auditory ‘spirit’ until I realized it may just be God trying to reach me.
I’m sitting here typing. Let me describe the noises surrounding me. There is the computer hum, the heater vent (can you believe the heater kicks on every night even on days it’s going to be 92 degrees), the birds outside my window, my desk creaking, my own steady breathing, the building creaking and settling (at least that’s what they tell me). I hear an airplane outside. I hear traffic on the freeway outside this building. I hear wind outside. I’m beginning to think I hear the Taos Hum.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, Google it and you’ll find 44,500 hits for the Taos Hum. I’ve included a few links just for your amusement and wonderment.
There is this ‘phenomenon’ in New Mexico called the Taos Hum. I don’t know how old it is, but when I first moved to Albuquerque in 1995, it was one of the first legends I was told about. This low pitched “hum” that is audible to some and not to others. I don’t think I ever heard it…until now. There are even clubs for people who do in fact hear it. I don’t scoff at these folks because we all know our reality is just that…OUR reality. Who am I to tell a person what they do and don’t hear? It may be God trying to reach them.
Again I digress…there are all these noises around me and it invariably it makes me think of Jesus’ desire and NEED to go and pray by himself. I think of how valuable our own silence is in communing with Him. It is in the times I can become truly quiet externally and internally that I truly hear Him. Don’t get me wrong, He can shout above whatever noisy distraction I have going, but He prefers my seeking Him in silence. He likes my attention and I like the reward of His words and wisdom.
Take a few moments today and truly get quiet and see what you hear over the computer humming, the kids playing, the dishwasher running and even Taos humming. When I did this morning I not only heard the Lord speaking, but I felt more clarity and peace surrounding me.
What do you feel/hear in your silence?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Last week I was struggling. I just felt like God was telling me to go to this study. I picked up the book on Sunday after service and even read the chapter and answered the questions. The chapter spoke about the wife’s role as ‘helper’ and the role of the submissive wife.
I don’t mind the word helper. I think it’s kind of nice. It reminds me of a Kindergarten teacher’s assistant. I HATE the word Submissive. In this computer's dictionary it means: giving in or tending to give in to the demands or the authority of others.
It reminds me of a dog’s role to his/her owner. I know Satan is the author of these negative connotations. I also immediately think to myself: too stupid to handle it on my own, submit to someone else to make my decisions for me. I’m not really prepared to write anything further on this right now…I really need to pray and seek God in this area to find His answers. Plus due to the daily “challenge” I’ve already said too much on the topic.
The challenge for this week was to take one day (one week if you’re brave) to do NO complaining and/or grumbling. I obviously picked the wrong week to join Bible Study…
I knew there was no way I could do it on a Monday…are you kidding me? I decided to start today. So I’m sitting at my desk, getting ready to ‘clock in’ and thinking Lord, let’s start off right. First forgive me for grumbling about submission…
I’ll continue from yesterday and list 10 blessings in my life today:
1. I had so many clothes to choose from this morning. Thank you Lord for prosperity and plenty!
2. Traffic was light on the way to work. Thank you Jesus for protection!
3. I can see and hear and walk and drive. Thank you Jesus for health and wholeness!
4. I have so many freedoms I take them for granted. Thank you Lord for our country and for those who die to preserve freedom.
5. I have a husband who loves me exactly as I am and still offers me to Jesus daily to grow! Thank you Lord for a GODLY husband who truly treats me as you do the church.
6. I have family that loves me and cares for me. Thank you God for ordaining my parents and siblings.
7. I have talents and abilities. Thank you Lord for choosing them carefully.
8. I have friends. Thank you Lord for meeting every need.
9. I had breakfast this morning and food for each meal. Thank you God for providing our meals.
10. I have a heart filled with the Holy Spirit. Thank you Jesus for sending this helper!
I pray I can offer one day without grumbling and complaining and if I do “mess up” God will show me immediately so that I can re-set my course.
Monday, April 24, 2006
6. True Love
I don’t think I’ve ever written anything shorter in my last 99 postings…LOL! Enjoy.
Last night as I lay down in my bed; the place of comfort, refuge, and renewal (usually), I immediately felt full of anxiety and angst and like a pouting child. That is how I approached His throne last night before bed. I had this discussion with God about all these “feelings”, and all the while He listened quietly.
I yelled at Him in my physical pains (minimal pain but such a nuisance as I try to sleep). I yelled at Him about His placement of us in OKC and about my husband in school and about the price of gas and about the roles women take. I asked Him why He made me the way He did when it so often resulted in my head against a brick wall!
That is how I went to sleep…
I woke up this morning feeling even more tired and as though I fought unending battles all night long; tossing and turning…never quite finding the comfort zone of complete and utter blissful sleep.
Apparently I did fight unending battles and God desires a little DIScomfort in me right now. There are some lessons God teaches me that require much less free will, cause’ He grabs me in this state of REM. I do some of my greatest thinking and BATTLES in sleep state. I’m not always fortunate enough to remember the battles, but I do typically remember the outcome.
Last night I wrestled God. Of course He won…and now I sit here waiting for the new name because it was one of THOSE battles. I have the ‘limp’ to prove it. My prayer this morning is Ephesians 4:1-6 (one of my favorites):
“…I ask you from my heart to live and work the way the Lord expected you to live and work. Live and work without pride. Be gentle and kind. Do not be hard on others. Let love keep you from doing that. Work hard to live together as one by the help of the Holy Spirit. Then there will be peace. There is one body and one Spirit. There is one hope in which you were called. There is one Lord and one faith and one baptism. There is one God. He is the Father of us all. He is over us all. He is the One working through us all. He is the One living in us all.”
The Blogger formerly known as KPJARA
Sunday, April 23, 2006
On the way to small group last night, my husband and I were listening to some CD’s he ordered from a church we both like. It’s the Top-10 sermons of the year. Last night the CD was talking about “Giants”. We know the story. Moses sent the group of men out to see who was residing in their “promised land” and upon their return many of the men declared these people were GIANTS.
Among those men were only 2 that didn’t see GIANTS; they were Caleb and Joshua. The pastor pointed out that Caleb didn’t see through eyes of fear, these GIANTS the other men spoke of, rather he saw through the eyes of clarity God had given them in His promises.
The pastor also pointed out that anything that is defeating us becomes our giant. It was one of those uncomfortable AHA moments. Initially I thought: "nothing ‘defeats’ me…well except for maybe future uncertainties, human rejection, and a few other hundred or so things."
Don’t you hate those moments when God clearly says: “yes, this applies to you too!”? It’s always right when I’m feeling pretty darn good about what He’s already done in my life and I’m getting a bit too comfortable in that place.
I’m praying AND believing, this morning, that God’s clarity will be the overcomer of these giants; new and old. I’m praying that I would start “gripping God”.
Have an awesome Sunday!
Friday, April 21, 2006
I'm reading "The Millennium Matrix" by M. Rex Miller. This is a book my pastor read and it piqued my interest so it's on loan to me. Let me just say I am going to have to buy it. It's almost like a text book in that there is so much information and I'm a book marker, always have been, no apologies, it just makes it VERY DIFFICULT to "borrow" books because I like to mark and note pages and passages.
I read through a passage yesterday that I want to share and then pose a question. The passage is titled "The Hunger for Authenticity". The premise is that the Gen-Xer's are seeking authenticity in church and in life as a whole. What I heard is: they aren't willing to "play church" even at the expense of their spiritual existence.
Mr. Miller was speaking with one of these Gen-Xer's informally. He had a short conversation with him and...well here are his words:
"He said that he was comfortable because I did not 'hype' him by portraying an image of having my act together. He appreciated that I did not open the Bible in order to leverage my perspective. We talked friendship, not formulas, and we did not end with any agenda accomplished."
I love this passage. It validates my imperfection. I am imperfect and it's seemed to be a source of contention in some formal "church" settings.
Mr. Miller goes on to say:
"Authenticity derives its power out of a clear sense of identity...Authentic cultures combine the qualities of reality (seeing things as they are) and authenticity (being who you really are) in order to connect with those unique qualities that define their identity. Once they grasp those qualities and harness them, these cultures quickly become beacon lights that attract others. When the church reclaims this wisdom, the world will come to its doors."
Well that gets me excited! Really it does. First, that my pastor is impassioned by this line of thinking enough that he would encourage my reading of it. Secondly, that there IS validation in my being who God made me to be, imperfections and all! I'm not trying to use this as an excuse to drop the F-bomb (which I do occasionally). Rather, I am excited because there is truth in authenticity that is not always found inside a church building.
Here are my questions: Is there a price for this authenticity (personal and/or cultural)?
and ~ What does authentic living look like to you?Happy Friday!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
You know I KNOW people back east, GiBee! I lived in ‘Bawlmer’ for several years not so long ago and still have some connections.
Lucky for you I received this as an email from my NON-Blogging friends today so it will be a cut/paste job, easy as pie for me, and I’ll TAG the offline people I know so as not to disturb the blogdom any further…
Enough flying dust…here we go!
4 jobs I've had:
1. Answering Service Operator (big shocker there, eh?)
2. Medical Transcriptionist
3. Temp Medical Staffing Manager
4. Commercial Art Salesperson (did it for about a week…I am SO not a salesperson. If it doesn’t sell itself, it ain’t moving)
4 Movies I Have Watched Over and Over:
1. When Harry Met Sally (probably know it verbatim)
2. Sleepless in Seattle
3. Pretty Woman
4. Lion King (my inner child and all)
4 Websites I visit regularly:
1. Blogs too numerous to count
2 My church website (cause I update it silly)
3. Yahoo Mail
4 Favorite Foods:
1. Really Good New Mexican Cuisine (green and red chile thank you!)
2. Chocolate (the 5th food group)
3. All American Pizza
4. Warm, Freshly baked bread.
4 Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. A beach somewhere civilized
3. In a comfy chair at Starbucks drinking coffee and reading
4. Hanging with friends while drinking coffee
4 Books I have read Over and Over (other than the Bible):
1. Anything by Karen Kingsbury (Redemption Series is my Favorite)
2. Anything by Terri Blackstock
3. Messy Spirituality (Mike Yaconelli)
4. Help I'm Being Intimidated by the Proverbs 31 Woman (Nancy Kennedy)
4 Musical Artists that I will never tire of hearing:
1. Toby Mac
2. DJ Maj
3. Chris Tomlin
4. Casting Crowns
4 Reasons Why I Blog:
1. to write
2. to vent
3. to grow
4. to learn
4 NON-Bloggers I tag (if they even find this)
1. Sister (who is officially a blogger, but not nearly as obsessive as me)
4. A.A. (thought you were getting out of this didn't you?)
It remind me of a Beth Moore study "Jesus, One and Only"...I think...where she has you consider what is was like to raise the Christ child as a parent.
Anyway...check out "Hey Jules" posting for 04/19/06. It's quite insightful!
Typically I’m listening to something or someone that is not only NOT edifying to me but it is doing me harm.
Think Pigpen. Innocent, darling, FILTHY…Pigpen! He comes into a room and everyone in the immediate vicinity either scatters or finds themselves covered in the dirt he carries with him. He seems loveable and fairly inconsequential, unfortunately he’s not.
Pigpen could be visual dirt or the less obvious mental, emotional, verbal dirt. We have all been around Pigpen at one time or another and felt the consequences of this interaction.
Initially, it’s subtle. You may catch yourself thinking or even saying something you typically would NEVER think or say. You may even throw a little dirt on someone else unintentionally. There are some people, I call Pigpen People, who INTENTIONALLY spread their dirt until the whole place is choking in the dust and debris. You may be perfectly clean and then be around a Pigpen Person for a few days and start feeling “dirty” and look around for the culprit and it’s YOU! AGHHH NOOOOOO!
Today I need to remind myself to wash up and steer clear of the Pigpen People who may be seeking me out. Today this is my prayer:
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my ROCK and my REDEEMER.” Psalm 19:14
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
But first a word from blogdom:
Yesterday I was “surfing” as work was slow and admittedly I’m a ‘lurker’ so I surfed, read and even added some more “Favorite Reads” to my growing list (and still have a few more to add). I do have an etiquette question about adding favorite blogs to read…is it inappropriate to add these to our list without letting the person know? I’ve seen some people actually ask for permission. I just figured if it’s out there, it’s available! If I have broken some sort of blogland etiquette rule, please forgive me…
Okay, so I’m reading all these tags people had received which grow exponentially and quickly in blogland, I might add. I kept thinking: “I must not be very popular because I haven’t been tagged”. You see I have to remind myself daily
A) Why I write here
B) It’s NOT about me!
C) I don’t KNOW enough UN-tagged people to forward it anyway!
So of course in perfect GOD-TIMING, I’ve been tagged by CHG @ Beneath The Ivy Wreath. The tag is to tell six random things about myself and then tag six more people.
“Six Random Things”
1. I LOVE to read.
2. I pray everyday that I will make a POSITIVE difference in someone’s “WORLD”.
3. Sometimes when I look at the world I wonder if God truly exists and if so, is He asleep? Angry? Ambivalent?
4. I HATE labels: i.e. religious, politically, race, gender, size, ALL labels!
5. I daydream A LOT!
6. I doodle when in meetings or on the phone.
As far as “tagging” 6 other people…refer to item “C” above. Everyone I “KNOW” in the blogland has been tagged (I think). If you haven’t been, consider yourself ‘tagged’, and go do this and keep it going so I’m not personally responsible for the collapse of a growing web of tags.
*****PG-13 BEGINS HERE******
So…I’m driving to work this morning (against my better judgment) and for some reason the traffic is really “TIGHT”. There is little maneuverability (is that a word?) and as expensive as gas is (up to $2.69/gal here) we’re ALL… (yes, I did it too) gunning, slowing, gunning, slowing, gunning, slowing to prevent the left-hand lane people from getting ahead of us in their attempted speedy passing pursuits.
All this is going on while I’m listening to and singing along with…. “How Great is Our God”. I’m singing it while driving like a maniac and learning first hand again about the “motivation of my heart”. If my God is so incredibly GREAT, why I feel compelled to act like a horse’s bootie while driving to work. Is it going to kill me to let a few cars in front of me and behind the big red truck that is riding his brakes while I’m riding his/her tail?
I even caught myself singing while turning to glare at one of these left-lane offenders trying to edge his/her way in front of me! Obviously my “witness” needs some work with regards to driving!
I get to my turn off…which is about 50 feet BEFORE the highway entrance everyone is “jockeying” for…and I nearly run over a construction worker crossing the street. They’re building a HUGE High School at the end of this street I turn on and the construction team is less then compliant with pedestrian laws, but who am I to honk?
Anyway, I make it on up the road a mile or so to my turn off and have finally calmed my labored ‘commute breathing’ to almost normal, when a car coming out of our parking lot slams on his/her brakes in the middle of the entryway, blocking my entrance. I respond by slamming on my brakes and coffee (bad coffee week for me apparently) goes sloshing around in my cup holder.
I don’t cuss aloud, but internally I am a very angry sailor….which is actually pretty good for me! I pull into a parking spot (not MY parking spot because it’s later then my usual time and it’s gone) and dig around in my purse for something to clean the coffee spillage up from my console and gear shift area.
“I thought I had some Kleenex in here. I know I put some in here for Easter Sunday. Where on earth are they?”
I reached into the abyss (my purse/book bag/lunch sack) and put my hand on something that felt like cloth/Kleenex. I grabbed that sucker out and found myself gazing at a “Stayfree pad”. I shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Well, let’s test the limits of absorbency, shall we!”
Lo’ and Behold, it worked. Slowly and methodically I wiped the mess up and was even able to push it down into the crevice by the gear shifter to clean out any liquid spillage in this area. I had previously spilled a soft drink in there and it’s still a bit sticky so I couldn’t afford coffee on top of the already ‘sticky’ shifter. Poor Maxx!
I cleaned the whole mess up in NO TIME and then stuffed it back into my bag to dispose of it in my office garbage, which I’m sure will get nosy eyes wondering. It will be hilarious if one of the doctors sees it in there…I’ll let you know if they do! Teehee!
So I’m here, preparing to pray for a day of forgiveness, grace, mercy and renewal as I started out WAY wrong and need a bit of an alteration of my brain and more importantly my heart.
I consider it a GOOD sign that I can laugh about it already. I think I’m making progress!
Have a JOY-FILLED Wednesday!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
There are some things in life that we know are absolutes. The most CERTAIN of these is that Super Wal-Mart is here to stay and they’re basically ALWAYS open. Wal-Mart will be the only thing standing (along with cockroaches) following a nuclear war! So…admittedly, I don’t live in the most urban of places; however, Oklahomans have migrated from the teepees some people still believe we reside in, to actual homes, some on wheels, but homes with actual walls.
Side Note: I used to consider it such fun to ‘convince’ people that when we lived in Alaska, not only did we live in an igloo, but we wore fur year round. I also convinced people in Colorado, that we lived in teepees in Kansas. It was great fun! I digress…
Okay, so it’s Easter “eve” and I realize I don’t have the salad made for the dinner tomorrow (my culinary contribution to the family dinner). My cupboards are bare except for some VERY limp lettuce and some very soft tomatoes (YUCK)! I bravely inform my husband (and niece who was spending the night) we need to make a QUICK trip to Wal-Mart and pick up the salad makings and we might as well get our weekly groceries.
You know, because I’ve shared previously, I can put it into high-gear and go-go-GO and get things DONE! We arrive at Wal-Mart at 9:35p.m. on Easter Eve and I feel my insides cringe because Wal-Mart is one “book” you can “judge from the cover” (parking lot). It was CROWDED! So of course I’m thinking, what idiot (aside from me) comes to Wal-Mart on Easter Eve? I figured I’d only have to jockey with the pallets and the stockers…oh no…these were frantic parents searching the now near empty Easter aisles for baskets, eggs and grass!
In our Wal-Mart they have strategically placed the candy in the front by the non-grocery door therefore it clogs up the entire entry way with only a handful of people and carts. I looked at the shelves and they were almost completely empty! OHMYWORD! It was like someone had screamed this was the last candy to be made in America… I’ve never seen empty candy aisles before, it was downright frightening and apocalyptic feeling.
People were RUNNING up and down aisles WITH their carts…literally FIGHTING over the leftover candy and baskets and grass. If I were a ‘last-minute parent’ at this point I’d be headed over to the paint aisle for a bucket and get some confetti from gift wrap for ‘grass’, but apparently these people were too frantic to stop and think and I figured it wouldn’t be in my best interest to advise them otherwise.
This begs the question: Have you ever had to improvise an Easter Basket and grass? What did you use? And do Easter Baskets HAVE to be replaced each year? Or is this another product of split families and a “throw-away” society. It seems we had the same Easter Basket for years and years when I was a child…all those years ago!
I shopped on…turning my head on the travesty.
A few moments later, to add insult, this announcer comes on and says: “It is 10:00 pm and Wal-Mart is now closed. We will reopen tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. for your convenience.” Okay, so what MORON closes Wal-Mart on Easter EVE and REOPENS it on Easter MORNING? There was no sign on the door. There was no notice in the paper. Who did this? Wal-Mart ONLY closes on Christmas!
I start rushing around to finish up and it felt like one of those game-shows where you have like 1 minute in the store to grab what you can…My husband didn’t HEAR the announcement so he’s wondering why I’m in frantic mode. I tell him and my niece what was said and while it appears many people are still weaving in and out of pallets and aisles slowly and methodically, we do the quick sprint to the front. You know these checkers can get mighty busy during a “closing”.
We find a checker and I send my husband back into the “belly of the beast” to pick up 3 or 4 more things…while I wait. He gets back with time to spare and we check out and are outta there! It was about a 30 minutes WAL-MART shopping trip! Yes, it’s practically an Olympic training event and very well should be a qualifying event for any sprinting race!
I guess I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my list of ABSOLUTES.
Monday, April 17, 2006
I don’t even “appreciate” the idea of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday because somehow it always feels undermined by the “Easter Bunny”. Besides who knows what the actual date of this historical occurrence was. It gets moved every year which begs the question did it initially get “moved” from its actual date for convenience sake by some King or Queen of yore like Christmas? Add to this, the fact that the death and resurrection of Christ is something I try to hold dear to my heart daily. This mentality I’m certain gets down to my NEED to remind myself that each day I must “die to my flesh”. I have to picture my sin putting Christ on that cross every single day!
Next…Easter Sunday means church is crowded with people you haven’t seen since Christmas. I wonder why people bother at all. Why only go to church 2 days a year? I know, I know, some would say “two days a year is better then none!”
My response would be: “Is it? Really?”
I volunteered to work in the nursery figuring it would be less crowded and we get to do a craft! The nursery was fun except for the coffee incident. You see I am a 42 year old CHILDLESS woman who doesn’t know all the “rules” yet. Even as I recall this now I cringe…it was almost in slow motion…one little girl reached up on tippy-toes to grab a bag from on top of the cubbies…I watch…as sliding forward…is my entire 22 ounce Styrofoam cup full of peppermint coffee with cream--sans lid. Sliding, sliding, sliding….I can’t get up fast enough and my mouth forms a large “OHNO” as these two darling children (cousins ages 2 and 3) are doused with (thankfully cool) coffee and it drips down their beautiful pastel dresses onto their darling cotton socks with ribbon trim.
The ‘lead teacher’ yesterday is the pastor’s wife and she takes it all in stride being the grace-filled, kind-hearted women she is…and begins to clean the little girls up. I run to get a towel and some water and start to work on the second girl and the carpet. It PRETTY much came out…but it soaked one child’s bag and one pair of ribbon trimmed socks are now considered “coffee socks”, not to mention these girls were scented of peppermint coffee with cream! I dreamed myself to the zoo where I could become a flamingo and entirely submerge my head in the dirt covered landscape!
Okay so with all that in mind, it’s also a day my mother stresses beyond words in trying to prepare the perfect dinner at a specific time so everyone can be included. She becomes so stressed in fact that I not only don’t want to go, but I would rather stay home and watch old movies or even do laundry for that matter. Plus…because of the ‘coffee incident’, I was running late to my mothers…not a good thing! I was explaining to the mothers of the girls what happened and why their daughters now smelled caffeinated.
I suppose I sound bitter and angry and to some extent I am. I am angry that my mom values getting some huge meal on the table by a certain time MORE than just sitting and relaxing and recognizing what this celebration is about. I am angry that the seed of bitterness is rooted in those ongoing memories each year. I am angry that the focus has become more about the new dresses, hats, baskets, etc, instead of what Jesus gave us. I’m angry that I fall victim to it too, each year.
Yesterday I came home from my moms early, after doing the dishes in an effort to “help”. I was exhausted from a weekend of church activities and regular household maintenance ‘stuff’. My husband had gone to work (this probably doesn’t help my ‘tude’ either). I needed to “rest”. My mother saw I was pulling myself up off the floor to leave and said; “You’re leaving already?”
I quietly said: “yes, I’m tired.”
I knew by the burning sensation in my eyes I needed to get out of there immediately. I didn’t hear any more salutations as I was leaving, so I made it out almost unnoticed. I went home, sat down, shooed the dogs, closed my eyes and rested. I felt on the verge of tears and I was certain it was just emotional and physical over-exertion.
Here is the good that came from it:
Recognizing my own weaknesses with childcare at church. Recognizing that adults don’t inherently know everything. Recognizing that children will find whatever contraband exists in their environment either willingly or by “accident”. Recognizing that I need a nap every once in awhile too. Recognizing what my stress “maximum” is. Hearing my mother admit she is getting “too old” to do this each year and asking my sister and I to consider doing it next year. Not losing sight of the fact that YES, Christ did die on a cross for ME and rose again 3 days later to sit at the right hand of God. All of this was good!
Next year, I’m spending Easter at a beach somewhere, even if only in the confines of my own bathtub!
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Friday, April 14, 2006
My husband ultimately ‘convinced’ me that the blue-black socks are fine with the ultra black pants. Hang on, let me look in REAL light and give my story…well they’re passable and only the most discerning of eyes would be able to see. Thankfully these pants are quite long, even on my 5’11” frame…so my socks won’t really show…but I’ll know, all day long, I’ll know I don’t match!
I need Garanimals! I know this isn’t a new concept because I have been talking about it with co-workers and friends for a few years now, but someone needs to market a line of GARANIMALS for adults…primarily for men, but women could use them too.
I think they’re still around, maybe not? You remember them…the tags had animals on them and you picked the tops and bottoms by the animals and then you knew…it was a sure match! You wouldn’t put tiger pants with a horse shirt, for example. The tiger pants go with the tiger shirt…not even the lion; it had to be the tiger!
Okay, so it limited freedom and expression a bit, but based on what I see people buying and wearing, that’s not altogether a BAD thing. I know we’re allowed some freedoms in clothing choices but honestly some of the clothing I witness on people doesn’t seem quite age appropriate.
I’ve never been a “fashionista”, not in the truest sense of the word. I like to look decent and match my clothes (except for a very brief period of rebellion against M & D). Additionally, I have learned, unfortunately, that what I wear represents WHO I am. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am no more what I wear, then I am where I live. I am a product of my environment to a large extent and without the compass God provides me, I would be on a whirlwind. I guess it’s the lack of modesty that sometimes surprises me. What you would wear to your marriage bed is not necessarily what should be worn to an athletic event, for example. Enough said!
With regards to MEN, the problem tends to center around color-blindness (though I think that may be largely feigned), or disinterest. Apparently men do not court women in the same manner that women are courting. My dad, bless his heart, became one of those men, in their sixties, that wear brown or black socks with shorts…ARGHHHHHHHHH! I hate that! He will also wear plaid shorts with a striped shirt. Some of that has to be age. It’s like letting your 3 year old dress herself. She sort of knows what to put together, but she also has favorites. What feels good to wear is not always what LOOKS good to wear. I think that’s why my dad makes his choices. I don’t know but I’m too scared of the genetic influence to delve in deeper.
Also, most men don’t shop…at least for clothing. They don’t know what goes with what because they haven’t been out there…looking, like we, the mighty GATHERERS have. Really, I think we may be more HUNTERS than them, but I’m not going to say that out loud. Anyone who has shopped the day after thanksgiving knows what I’m talking about.
Imagine this, Garanimals for work, for play, for travel, for summer, for winter, for all the seasons. There could be a line for weddings and formal events. There could be a line for all outdoor activities. Of course, we’d have to use many more animals but that would even work. We could use water animals for all summer and beachwear. We could use the bears and forest animals for outdoor and hunting activities. We could use different types of dogs for day wear. We could use the more ‘regal’ animals for formalwear. It would be so fun! It would make life so easy.
The black clothes could even be sub-divided. We could use different black animals that only go in pairs. For example the black of a panther is different then the black of an ant! Yes I know that is an insect, not an ANIMAL, but we could broaden our marketing more if we included a wider range of “creatures”.
Think about how many colors of crayons are added each year, they now even have contests to name the new colors. There used to be 8. Eight colors of crayons were the summation of my elementary years. There was no BIG box, or my parents just didn’t let me know about it. One of my friends recently bought a box of eight crayons for her 4 year old. I asked “why not the big box?”
“Too many choices!” she replied.
The more colors that exist, the more animal/creatures we’ll need for marketing. This could be HUGE! Okay, someone get busy working on it…I’m going to keep my eye out for these new products, oh and go check your Easter outfit now to make sure the whole thing matches and not just under fluorescent lights!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
At one of the churches I used to attend I would help ‘clean up’ occasionally. On one of these ‘clean up days’, I went to work in the kitchen (even CHURCH kitchens can get a bit unHoly at times). I worked away on the floors and cabinets and sink and then I walked over to the refrigerator and opened the door and almost screamed at the top of my lungs at what I saw.
Instead I slammed the door shut (to preserve the ‘scene’) and I pulled myself together and hurried to get PastorMan who was reading or doing some other equally vital task.
Side note: I have an older brother so I have seen dirt and filth and weird disgusting type things growing in a refrigerator…but nothing akin to this atrocity!
“PastorMan, you have to come now! You aren’t going to believe it!” I told him in rushed tone.
“What?” he asked.
“Just come with me…NOW!” I retorted.
I’m sure given our previous experience of mold growing behind a backsplash he was much more inclined to come and see whatever atrocity I had located. We rushed into the kitchen and I grabbed the refrigerator door and steadied myself. I swung open the door and again, I audibly gasped.
PastorMan looked inside, darn near putting his whole head in there in his fruitless search for this OBVIOUS and blatant offense.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Don’t you see it?” I screeched.
‘See what?” he said without inflection.
“The blood of Jesus is EVERYWHERE!” I said as I pointed to the squirt bottle of grape juice we used for communion. The bottle had a spray nozzle that apparently had reached optimal environment to self-dispense in the refrigerator. It had dripped and dripped and completely covered the top shelf on the refrigerator door and was dripping down onto the other shelves on the door. I was aghast. I couldn’t believe he didn’t see it.
He just burst out laughing. Apparently this was a common problem when the ushers forget to put the LID on the dispenser after communion. He pulled the offending bottle out and put a “cap” on it and stuck it back in there among the puddles of juice, grabbed a cold Dr. Pepper and turned to leave.
I smiled politely and as he turned to leave I shook my head in disdain, removed the bottle and cleaned up the spilled “blood”.
While this story makes me laugh, it is a reminder of how a SYMBOL can somehow take on more meaning then it should.
This past weekend we visited another church with some friends and it happened to be communion Sunday. They announced it and started passing around a BUCKET, a white plastic bucket. I was raised in a very civilized suburban Baptist Church where communion ‘bread’ came on a sterling silver tray and another sterling silver tray carried the tiny GLASS cups with the “blood of Jesus” juice in them. You would eat the bread and put the tiny glass cup in the “rubber-lined hole” next to the hymnal holder, all neat and tidy. I can't recall, but I imagine we had to "wash up" our hands before communion as well.
In this new church they passed a white bucket and you remove what appears to be a little plastic wrapped container with liquid in it. Upon closer inspection the top was sealed separately and contained the “wafer” and then under another seal was the juice. It was all very neat and tidy and self contained. It was actually very cool. Then they pass the buckets around again to deposit the used containers for clean-up.
At our church we go to the front and collect a wafer and little plastic cup of juice and go back to our seat to pray and take communion together. The last time we did this there was so much talking and visiting it felt more like we were at a social gathering, not to mention these tiny plastic cups lying all over the floor. I can DEFINITELY see the merit in passing a "trash bucket" around to collect these little cups.
All these experiences and this being the week of celebration of the origin of this event, got me to thinking about what my expectations are and what my “issues” are with these observances.
In the church where I first learned about communion, it was a truly sacred event. It was held once per month and it was only taken by those who had received salvation through Christ. It was "reverent" if you will allow me that word. The atmosphere was quiet and very serious. It was sometimes darkened a little in order to give the visual effect of the seriousness of the event.
I realize churches today are in flux and are constantly evolving to ‘accommodate’ the people that come. I’m not sure if accommodate is the best word, but that is how it appears. I do know Jesus did not set out to make others feel “unwelcome”. His whole attitude was one of love, unity, and acceptance (just as I am). I also know post-modernism has affected most all experiences traditional church services brought. Let me just say I’m not opposed to evolving to something that ultimately draws us nearer to God. I struggle because of my own experience, accepting communion in these new-fangled ways.
When I reflect back on the Last Supper I believe that Jesus broke bread and brought that cup of redemption to the disciples to symbolize his ultimate God-ordained purpose and his desire that we REMEMBER this in our own lives. I want to remember I have chosen to die to my self and to accept his blood as my redemption. He alone is Christ and He alone is my savior.
I wonder what was going through his head….Jesus, that is…during this supper. He knew what His Father had asked of Him. He knew of the betrayal to come. He knew…yet he sat with the very men who would betray and deny Him…the men who had been with him endlessly for three years. He sat with his disciples with the same loving demeanor he had carried with them for all those years.
I’m going to try to REMEMBER that it matters less HOW or WHERE or WITH WHOM I take communion then WHY I take communion.
I take communion in remembrance of Him!
Now… where can I get my feet washed?
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
It may not be discernable…immediately, but it does occur, the shaping and reshaping of our life, our journey. We recognize the obvious, i.e. the people we choose to interact with and their impact on our life. The people we reject or shun either openly or less openly, also alter our journey, or what it could have been.
The less obvious include our schedule and how we fill it, our words and how we use them, even in our thoughts and whether we capture or release them…all of these are choices being made all day long…all LIFE long.
We are typically taught from an early age to make “good choices”, the problem sometimes is more about measuring good versus bad, and the consequences of each. Sometimes the consequences of “good” take a bit longer to see, making those choices even harder. (Think studying = good grades or diet/exercise = acceptable swimsuit season…long-term payoff).
I know for me, I tend to seek IMMEDIATE gratification and payoff. The good taste from eating chocolate could, for example (and often does) deter the good from my diet and exercise plans. The same applies for bad choices. If I overeat only once, I feel a bit uncomfortable for awhile but no long term effects…but if I continue to do that…eventually we’re shopping for a whole new wardrobe…not a good choice!
I use food as an example because obviously that’s an ongoing struggle for me, but the same applies for school, conversation, personal interaction, every crossroad we approach a choice must be made.
In my daily calendar I ran across a quote that prompted this writing, I’ll share it now and let you ponder it a bit as well:
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” --William Jennings Bryan
This quote was made MUCH clearer by a Max Lucado Easter card I received in the mail yesterday, which simply said:
“God would rather die for you than live without you.”
Remember life is about choices, choose well…
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
When I was very young I didn’t really give any thought to aging. I think, like most seemingly immortal youngsters I had energy to burn and a little scrape, scratch, or lost tooth would do NOTHING to slow me down. I never even thought about older people outside of the role of parent, teacher or grandparent…oh and the President, because he could preempt my episodes of “Charlie’s Angels” on a Friday night. Back in the day, they didn’t re-air programming at 2:00 a.m. so that people could tape it and view it later…this was b.v. people (before VCR). Heck we actually had to approach the big giant television god to change channels, volume, adjust color, vertical and horizontal hold…yes those are adjustments on a television.
Aging wasn’t a part of my mind-set.
When I became a teenager the only part of aging I thought about were the body changes that were rapidly altering my existence, along with the dreaded possibility of acne. Body odor became a concern after gym class for those of us in the hygienic crowd or those of desiring relationship with the opposite sex. Let me just tell those administrators right here and now…wearing a polyester jump suit during gym class didn’t help the matter either…and then only receiving 1 jumpsuit…it could only be taken home and washed once per week…ludicrous! What’s wrong with these people, our leaders?
I did have to interact with more adults in the form of bosses, more teachers, parents, and parents of friends. I now viewed them as the “oppressors” or just one more kink in my desire to express myself and my individuality. It seemed conformity was the key to success during this time. As you might imagine, I struggled with that. I remember clearly, at an extended family function at Thanksgiving, I think…one of my favorite cousins had turned 21 and she was a flight attendant and I thought, “Poor thing, she’s so old!” 21 was OLD to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I entered my 20’s, like many other young, idealistic, assured, “pseudo-adults”, I was certain I knew EVERYTHING (that mattered). I knew how to ‘get by’ in college courses that seemed irrelevant and I knew how to blink my eyelashes and feign the helplessness that seemed required by the guys. I knew the answer to everything (that mattered) and could debate with ease (to the death if necessary) all subject matter.
I had the world by the tail and was spinning that ‘bad-boy’ to my own drumbeat. No one would control me again. I viewed those older then me as somewhat obtuse and without purpose. I could see the logic and merit of movies like “Logan’s Run”. I wasn’t altogether certain anyone over 30 had a purpose on earth, other then to take up space. Yes, I actually said 30!
When I entered my 30’s, I felt on top of the world. Well, turning 3-0 was a bit ‘scary’ because of my previous mindset and even seeing how much wiser I had become and incredible joyous that I lived through my 20’s…I was uncertain of what was coming. I had gone from “the Breakfast Club” through “St. Elmo’s Fire” directly into “30-Something”…I hated that! I was always going to be like Demi Moore in St. Elmo’s Fire. I loved her free-spirit (without the drugs of course) and her artistic expression and her ability to be the life of a party! I’m embarrassed to admit that she was my idol. Did I actually just write that? Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…and I enjoyed it.
Okay, so the 30’s. I was going through such a time of upheaval in my life and on my journey. I moved 4 times during my 30’s and learned the art of the chameleon. I did 7 completely different jobs during that time as well. It seemed I was finally settled enough to search for my life’s meaning.
Side note: I am currently still on this search to a great extent and expect to be here for a very long time.
I met my husband when I was 34 so I was certain it was only going to get better. I could still do all the physical things I could always do. I was strong, agile, ABLE to do, lift, open, hold, carry, push, pull, etc.
I worked with a group of women in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. One of them told me this: When you are 35 you can no longer do a backwards somersault. When you are 40 you can no longer do a front somersault. When you are 45 you can no longer sit on the floor comfortable and be able to get up from it in an hour. When you are 50 you creak and crack when you get up from a chair at home.
I wouldn’t let her continue…It was downright frightening, but I was sure it didn’t apply to me. I mentally thought: “Can I still do a somersault? When was the last time I tried?” I figured if I didn’t try, it wouldn’t trip me up! I never did try it.
Something else happened in my 30’s. I began to more fully respect and admire the “elders” around me. Anyone older then me deserved respect if for nothing else then the life experience they had gained and could pass down to me if I shut up long enough to hear about it. They seemed like sages (most of them), and frankly some were beginning to look a bit “Yoda-ish” as well, with the shrinking stature, rounded back and larger facial features and hairs growing from even the most unlikely of places.
They no longer walked with precise steps, they shuffled. They groaned as they moved and they didn’t even attempt to pick stuff up or open anything. I did laugh internally when they couldn’t open anything packaged in cellophane. These were my elders.
The entry to my 40’s was extremely uneventful. I did the big party thing and felt no immediate or new response to gravity. I could still sit on the floor and get up with ease. Well, I did have to use my hand to get up and occasionally I required a moment, upon rising, to balance myself, but it was fairly unnoticed by my peers.
I looked around at my friends and they were mostly younger people. I am certain this is God’s sense of humor. It was almost overnight, that I became an “elder” at my young church. I was one of the oldest people there and they were treating me as I treated my elders in my 20’s. It ticked me off! I was not to be discarded and what I had to say mattered. You may THINK you know it all, but I’m hear to tell you…YOU DON’T, neither do I, but I’m willing to admit it!
The flip side of that coin is the young-set came to me for very serious advice. I wasn’t sure I was able to give them advice in their journey…but of course I did. The difference in me was I STOPPED and thought before I spoke. I drew from my own experience and instead of spouting some emotional response (usually); I gave a more thought out response.
The physical stuff is what’s tripping me up today and what prodded me into this writing. Recently I slept weird on my shoulder or something…and I still haven’t slept a straight 8. This thing tingles, shocks, burns, aches all night and all day! My foot is aching. I can’t always open stupid lids on jars. I can’t always open new bottles of water. I don’t have the hand strength I once did. I don’t have the memory I once did. I don’t have the abilities I once did. It is WAY too early to be declining this rapidly. Case in point: I don’t remember all the reasons I had originally thought to write this!
I now see the merit of daily vitamins and daily exercise. I can physically feel overexertion. I need breaks. I need rest. I need my 8, nightly. It’s no wonder elderly sometimes struggle with hypertension, they are stressed, people! They can’t do what they could do just a few years ago. They need help and they aren’t always getting it…at least without comment or joke. Aging is extremely humbling.
I realize I have no choice but to continue on this journey and while I sometimes look in fearful trepidation at what the future holds for me physically and mentally, I am thankful that I won’t walk it alone.
You can stop laughing now…especially if you’re younger then me! Have a wonderful Tuesday…
Monday, April 10, 2006
Our small group is relatively new and I think to some extent we are still learning to trust one another. This translates to mean it got very quiet when the questions were posed. Some did the “nervous laugh”, others shared brief answers. The questions we pondered were related to the church in Acts we had read about in a previous sermon. We talked about going to our “church” for needs and offering our ‘stuff’ and our ‘money’ to the corporate church body in order to meet basic needs as was taught in Acts.
It was pointed out, that the church in Acts did have somewhat unique challenges in that being Christians, they were often martyred (to the death) and their “businesses” suffered or were lost due to the societal stigma. The people in the Acts Church NEEDED help to survive.
Honestly, I know there are SOME churches that have “Mercy” ministries available to their congregants and occasionally to the community, but these seem to be few and far between, even here in the Bible belt. I have to wonder if we are becoming more and more cynical and hard-hearted, or if we are continuing to turn a blind eye to the needs of our brothers and sisters as we continue to fill our own personal purses with more “stuff”.
I remember when my husband was first “saved” and he informed me his desire was to “give”. I thought, “Well yeah, we all want to give.” He explained he wanted to give money to those in need. Immediately, my mind began to calculate how much/when/who/why? Being the more “seasoned Christian” of our coupling, I was certain I had the Biblical upbringing to help guide us in wisdom.
Okay, so admittedly my upbringing was somewhat marred by my own parental lectures on making “do” with what you have and not living beyond your means and working hard for everything you get. There are no “handouts” in life. It’s each “man” for himself. My father would leave a church altogether if he felt they were asking for money too often.
I am a selfish person. I can try to explain it away as trying to look out for my own, but each one of God’s children is supposed to be “one of my own”. God placed me in this church, at this time, for this community to serve, to help, to GIVE. I will defer our “giving” to my husband, whose heart is right and not marred by selfish ambition.
One of the “start-up” churches I attended was in a fairly affluent section of our city. I remember the pastor responding to requests for a mercy ministry by saying: “we are too new a church to provide for the community.” Honestly, at that time I didn’t have a problem with that response. As I reflect back now I have to wonder…if we DON’T provide for the community, we aren’t having church we are having a social club.
The final thought/question at our small group and for this posting is this:
“If your church were to close its doors tomorrow, would the community notice? Would the community be sad/happy/indifferent? Does your community even know your church exists?
Sunday, April 09, 2006
This is my darling husband and me taken almost 2 years ago now...It's a picture of a picture so the quality isn't wonderful, but this is the picture I look at when I miss my husband...when the pull of his classes and work steal him away from me. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how very important it is for him to finish school...and he will be done this December...but there are times, like this evening when I just miss him. I just want to hang out with him and hold his hand.
I joke that our time apart is one thing that keeps our marriage strong, and I do believe that...however, I also know that we are paying a price for his education and our future. The price is our lack of togetherness on our joined journey. He is almost as much water to my soul, as God, which results in a tangible thirst. He is my better half, the part that truly completes my spirit, my soul, my heart!
I dedicate this to Paul, my God-selected, perfect-for-Kim husband!
I love you honey!
Today I am going to share from this book because it has been pivotal in who I am...in how God has created me. The book is called;"The Book of Qualities" by J. Ruth Gendler.
Today I will share two entries:
Friday, April 07, 2006
"And the Day Came When the Risk to Remain Tight in a Bud Was More Painful Than the Risk It Took to Bloom"
Brief and to the point on this Friday...I'm hoping that I will open up and bloom...very soon!
Thursday, April 06, 2006
As I shared on “comments” at Kisses of Sunshine (aka: GiBee’s Comedy Blog) I have prayed for everything big and small for some time now. Prayer is not something I struggle in…sometimes accepting God’s will is something I struggle in or hearing God right the first time…but I don’t struggle just going to His throne of grace and ‘hanging out there’ in prayer and meditation and worship.
I will also “steal” Shalee’s words about NOT being some holy, holy, holy of holies…I struggle, boy do I struggle. Anyone who has read any of this rambling, KNOWS I struggle daily…the beauty is…most days my struggle results in gain. I gain wisdom and peace and endurance through the various trials and temptations I face daily. Sometimes, however, I gain some bad stuff too and I won’t go there, suffice to say I’m not “done” yet...thank you Jesus!
Here is my story…(Dear Sister, Please forgive any inconsistencies this is how I remember the story)
My ‘baby sister’, who I didn’t grow to fully appreciate until adulthood, has battled cancer since the early 1990’s. She was first diagnosed with ureter cancer? I think…though I wasn’t aware of this battle until after she completed treatment. I won’t go into the “whys” of the rationale behind secrecy.
She then began her battle with Chronic Leukemia. The first time she was only in her late twenties (I believe) and she endured the chemotherapy and resulting weakness, hair loss and all the “stigma” that goes along with the diagnosis. She reached the point of remission and what an incredible celebration that was. Again, I wasn’t living near her at this time.
She then became sick again with Chronic Leukemia. The second time was harder. The chemo was harder, the physical drain and strain was harder. She had come out of a string of “bad” relationships by then, so she did have a loving, supportive husband by this time, but physically…it was harder, this was sometime around 1995.
I remember talking to her about her treatment (without much detail which is NOT like my sister)…but she internalized most of the emotional disease process that takes place.
The first blessing that occurred during this “cancer journey” was my nephew. My sister found out she was pregnant, much to the chagrin and wonderment of her oncology doctor. She gave birth to my nephew in November, 1996. I believe by then or shortly thereafter, she was in remission (for the 2nd time) from Leukemia and even more reason to celebrate because the amazing and physically perfect nephew was born and quite an addition to this family.
Things seemed halfway normal for a while. My sister became very involved in the local MOPS chapter and was helping start a MOPS group at a church…she went to a huge conference in Ohio that year and returned feeling so “spiritually high” and so confirmed in her feelings and calling for her life. She understood why she had been “cured”. She returned home to the devastating news that her loving husband had committed adultery and he confessed this literally on the heels of her return.
By the grace of God they have found healing for their marriage and themselves individually…however, within a year of this personal upheaval, my sister found out she had CUPS (cancer of unknown primary source). She had tumors throughout her body. It was like a death sentence. Medically speaking, it WAS a death sentence. This was a rare cancer that had only been research minimally. She had tumors on her spine, legs, arms, numerous soft tissue spots…it was almost surreal when she would point to a “swelling” on her finger and say: “that’s a tumor”. This was 2000.
I moved back to Oklahoma in 2001. I was determined to spend time with my sister even if it was shortened by God. One of the first things my sister did with me upon my return was driving me by the graveyard where she wanted to be buried. She explained that she and her husband had already selected the location and plans were being made. She had made a list of people she did and DIDN’T want at her funeral. She asked me if I could ‘enforce’ her wishes. I couldn’t even cry, I was so ANGRY and felt like she was giving up! Yes, one of those first responses to the dying process.
My parents were also grief-stricken. They would “stress” about every miniscule thing around my sister. My sister wore a surgical mask everywhere we went for fear of germs and infection…a catalyst to death.
One of the first ‘good’ things to come from this was seeing my father draw near to God. He was raised in a church and had always gone to church, but had never fully committed his heart to Jesus…during this time, he did. He was truly a changed man. He was concerned about his daughter and was able to show that openly. My mother and father also grew closer in their joined battle against this cancer.
We were praying all through this time, more fervently the weaker she got. The answers were always positive. My sister was told she would have to give up driving due to the tumor on her spine…she never fully lost feeling of her legs (again amazing the doctors). There were times she would have to crawl to the bathroom because she couldn’t walk, but this weakness NEVER occurred when she was driving. She was also authorized to begin a research drug for CUPS patients through MD Anderson solely because of her ‘hopeless medical condition’…this was a bittersweet answer to prayer.
Having been in the medical arena for as long as she had, my sister had no trouble speaking with doctors openly about her wishes and her desires. She would tell them ‘how it was’ and in no uncertain terms…her questions were answered fully and the doctors weren’t allowed to “blow her off” as it often seems they do. The MD Anderson research doctor was dubbed “Mr. Personality” because he had NONE. He was perversely obsessed with the dying process more then the healing process. It was as though he expected her to succumb to death.
Another answered prayer was with the new medication the side effects were essentially nil. The drug was supposedly attacking only cancer cells, leaving the “good” cells intact and strong.
This went on for about a year. There were a few really scary moments when we weren’t sure any of us were going to “make it” through this journey. I think my sister had finally decided she had better start preparing her children (then 7 and 13) by journaling and spending time with them so they would have “mommy” memories for a lifetime. I think she had begun to give up…I think we had all begun to give up…
Then…my sister was at a ‘healing’ service in her church, having been through healing services in other churches for her OWN needs she wasn’t praying over that…she was praying over my niece for her future and her grades and her friends.
This is kind of “twilight zone” weirdish…so prepare yourself…THEN…my sister said as she’s on her knees praying she feels a physical sensation and movement a “spirit” moving through her body and she cannot move. It’s as though she’s frozen where she is. She feels a warm flow of “energy” in her body. She is crying because she can’t move, but she continues praying. I don’t know if she thought she was going to die there???or what…but here’s what happened…
After about an hour of prayer, led by this visitor…she can finally move and she knows in her heart and in her mind…she has been healed of cancer! I think she even told us that fairly immediately. She went to her doctor shortly thereafter and sure enough…tumors are gone…not only that (get the Kleenex out), but the marks on her arms and back from blood draws and spinal taps….GONE, every single one of them! There is no evidence that sickness once riddled her body. Her liver which was basically GONE…was growing back for the first time in her struggle.
Alas, Mr. Personality was NOT happy. Every other patient on this "research drug" had died and Mr. Personality was extremely perplexed by my sisters lack of symptoms, and angry because he couldn't use her in the study if she was "healed" not "cured". Note: He still performs follow-up exams every 6 months I believe.
I know that my sister is alive today by the grace of God’s healing power and prayer. I know that whether God chose to heal her cancer or not…He is still a God of healing. I know that God CHOSE to heal her…I tell her that “obviously her work is NOT done and she won’t be dumping those kids on me!”
All joking aside, this answered prayer has been her testimony and my own faith builder when I sometimes struggle about whether or not God is “hearing me”. What do I say to others who don’t have an “earthly” happy ending of healing? I say: “God is still God. God still loves us and desires our wholeness and healing. God gave His only son to preserve our lives and the ONE TRUE GOD is with that family member to and through and after the end of their earthly time here. God is holding your loved one with Him now.”
You see I don’t believe my own sadness over my sisters cancer was about her potential death…it was about MY LOSS. I know heaven is better then earth…and if God takes one of us today or tomorrow it will only be our loss…but their GAIN!
God does answer ALL prayer…please keep praying…at least pray to understand God better and see if your faith doesn’t grow just a little.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I got to thinking this morning about all the sayings I HATE…Yes, it’s important to focus on the negative things first to get them out of the way! Once I can get through the mud (I’ve played mud volleyball and the first step in is the worst)…then I can move more freely or at least KNOW my limitations.
So, I’m moving trepid-ly through mud this morning while I think of the things I don’t like. Here is my list, feel free to add to it:
Frankly all body odor, mine or others (no I don’t think sweaty men are sexy! YUCK)…
Peas (the green ones, once they’ve been punched and become ‘black-eyed’ I luv em’)…
Nylons falling in the crotch…
Too tight shoes…
Movies I have to close my eyes in…
Gripers who won’t do anything to make change…
All the isms’, sexism, racism…you get it…
Fakeness (again all fakeness, from people to cheese)…
The color brown (ironically I am wearing that color today)…
Water rings on wood…
Thoughtless comments followed by the insincere apology…
Picketing against war while our sons are dying for our freedom…
Gangsta’ Rap music…
Teachers who shouldn’t be teaching and don’t even WANT to teach…
I guess that’s a pretty good starting point…now I can move on with my morning. I saw this cool “pin” at Mardel’s the other day and it caught my eye because it had one of my ‘catchphrases’.
It said (in bright primary colors): WHATEVER!
Which is MY word…I say it ALL the time! I read on and this is WHY God allows me to continue using this word:
“Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Good thoughts for a HAPPY Wednesday!