Thursday, April 30, 2009
You wear a new ultra-white sweater and don’t get one stain on it…even after drinking chocolate milk for breakfast…
The sun peaks out from behind the storm clouds…
The temp crawls above 80…
Your dogs remind you just how loved you are…
You hit the lights green…
You see the weekend ahead and it’s not jam packed…
Your favorite neighborhood is having a neighborhood garage sale this weekend…
May Day means summer is just around the corner…
The Edmond Arts Festival is this weekend, which means time with good friends…
You can walk during breaks and not feel any pain at all…
You have some new outside window Windex ready to try out when the rain lets up…
You have TONS of extra hangers…post garage sale…
I have a Heavenly Father who thinks the WORLD of me…and YOU too!
…it’s been a very good day!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Yep, this is what I see when I'm standing up from my desk. There are a BUNCH more cubes to the left, but you can't see them til you walk out of the area a bit.
This is the far left of my desk. Yep! I scored a window and YEP that's the fabulous view of the dumpster!
Monday, April 20, 2009
I just finished reading “The Shack”. I’ll be honest it was rough at first. I didn’t think I would be able to finish it as it was S L O W going the first couple of chapters. When I read if I don’t delve right in I may never finish it. Everyone I talked to that had completed it said it was rough at first but once you get going it’s a pretty good read.
I have come to realize they don’t give it enough credit.
When Mack (the main character) ends up at the shack (a place of horrendous personal memories for him) he is greeted by God, Jesus and the H.S. God is embodied by an African American woman. Jesus is an average looking Jewish male and the H.S. seems to be some sort of ethereal Asian (perhaps) woman who never stays still long enough to get a full glimpse.
As if that isn’t enough to pull you in, the conversations these three have with Mack are truly thought provoking. When speaking with “God” about free-will, God reminded Mack that even free-will is influenced by so many things and we don’t even realize it. God asks if it is still free-will if it is influenced by gender, socio-economics, our own prejudices, etc.
The H.S. when addressing good and evil reminded Mack that; evil is the absence of good, dark is the absence of light, and death is the absence of life.
I cannot even begin to tell you how this has forced me outside comfort zones and perhaps even a bit of stagnancy. I’m hopeful I'm able to comprehend everything, but I may just read it again for good measure.
My heart has been touched...healed to an extent and I'm at that place where I want to read something else, but I don't want to let this story go yet.
If you haven't read it...do it. If you've started but got stuck...keep reading!
Friday, April 17, 2009
God, in His infinite wisdom (and grace), took my focus off the question of why I had gained weight and put my mind back to the life preserver.
I was like… ‘Yeah, God, I get it. It’s a LIFE preserver! It’s uncomfortable! It’s big and bulky like me right now!”
God usually just waits patiently as I process through these thoughts.
“No!” he said. “It’s not ALL about the food you are eating. It’s not ALL the chocolate or the processed junk food you snack on. Think more about the WHY and not the WHAT.” he prodded.
Then He flicked the switch because I was just ‘swimming’ and ‘drifting’ in thoughts that were taking me farther and farther away from His lesson. (Didn't you love how I did that? LOL)
“My precious daughter, the life preserver is the WHY! You are eating in an effort to keep yourself afloat emotionally and sadly, it’s doing just the opposite, both emotionally AND physically, and frankly…spiritually.”
WOW! What’s a girl to do with that little epiphany? Of course God reminded me that His love is not conditional to the size on my pant label, nor is it lessened by the chocolate that passes my lips. Like a loving parent, (minus the judgment and harsh words), God desires my life to be full and without the hindrance of this extra weight. When I ‘eat’ something to feel better I am trying to replace God’s sovereign role in my life. God wants to be the only life preserver in my life.
“I’m not sure how to take it off, Lord. I’ve had it all my life!” I sadly confessed.
“I will show you, if you trust me. Do you trust me?” He asked.
“I don’t know.” I said sadly. “I really thought this was your judgment of my bad choices.”
God just shook his head slowly, side to side, with a tear sliding down his face. “No, my daughter. Your weight is not my judgment, it’s yours. Your weight is a part of this journey of life. You may take a turn I wouldn’t desire for you, but I do not sit in judgment of that turn. I desire that you seek ME with all your heart, soul, mind, body, spirit, but even if you don’t…I still love you deeply!”
You know what I had to ask! “Why can’t you just speak this weight off of me?” I couldn’t help it, I had to know.
He reminded me that the number on the scale…the destination…is not nearly as important as the journey! My journey to lose this impractical and uncomfortable life preserver is where the grace and mercy resides that I am so in need of right now.
Thankfully Jesus will also teach me to walk on water, so I don’t need the darn preserver anymore!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
When I was living in Baltimore, back in the early nineties I got some news from my employer that I was going to be laid off. I wasn’t really all that sad as I had been there about 4 years and that is typically my ‘max’ anyway (before I get too bored and need a change).
I looked at the lay-off and severance package as an opportunity to go back to school and MOVE to Phoenix. I was SO excited. I called and started finding about apartments, utilities, etc. Then I called the school and was informed the Art Therapy program was being phased out and they were currently only having every other year applications. In addition I needed some additional art courses and a professional portfolio with sculptures (which I hadn’t even begun yet).
I immediately felt defeated. I had always wanted to go to Phoenix and after a few Baltimore winters I was MORE than ready. So…I did a search for other Art Therapy programs in the southwest and lo’ and behold found one at UNM in Albuquerque.
Now back then I didn’t even know how to SPELL Albuquerque, must less know where it is. My friend and I looked it up and saw it nestled in a valley by a big mountain and it looked ‘okay’. It wasn’t Phoenix, but it would do in a pinch. I read about the ambient temperature and lack of snow and felt pretty certain this was the next best thing.
So, I sold and gave away almost all of my belongings, found an apartment online and secured it, sight unseen, it was close to the University and that was all that mattered at this point. A friend of mine helped me load everything left over in my little rental U-Haul and attach that baby to my car and off we went. We left Baltimore on February 14th, 1995.
My friend is a bit of a zealous driver and we drove and drove and drove and only stopped once we got to Oklahoma City early, early February 16th (it’s about a 22 hour drive from Baltimore to OKC) to say ‘hey’ to family and hit the road the next day to get on to my final sunny destination. When we left OKC it was like 35-40 degrees.
We arrived in Albuquerque, on February 17, 1995, it was warm (like 80 degrees) and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It reminded me of an old west town. We found my TINY apartment/loft and unloaded my few belongings, returned the U-Haul and went to investigate.
My friend left on February 18, 1995 and I was on my own. I found a job quickly, enrolled in a couple of basic courses I needed and met my future husband on May 4, 1995. We were together every day after that til we were married in 1998.
Nope…I never got that Art Therapy degree…I still think about it every once in awhile. But God certainly had another plan! Now I’m married to my absolute dream husband, and I don’t ever have to wake up from this dream!
Thank you God that your plan’s are ALWAYS better than ours!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Grandma Dora was truly the originally explorer! I don’t know ALL about her life because I entered it at a much later stage and while there are many stories, not all of them have been shared.
The one and most important story (at least to me) is when my husband was born (about 2-3 months prematurely). Paul’s mom and dady were returning from Guam. The flight landed in LA they went to the hospital and he was born and not long after, Paul’s mom had to relocate to TX with Paul’s dad and was unable to stay at the hospital. Grandma Dora would come to the hospital and visit and hold baby Paul every day at the hospital, until his mom could come back. I think that one thing helped ensure Paul’s survival and a deep relationship with this Grandmother.
When I met Grandma Dora, it was love at first meeting. She was the most loving, kind, open woman I think I’d ever met. You see it was not always easy being ‘the white girl’ in this LARGE Hispanic family. There are many traditions and some family members felt strong that the blood line should remain Hispanic.
Not so with Grandma Dora.
I don’t know if she saw how much I loved her grandson immediately, or if she just loved ME so much she couldn’t help but try to keep me…LOL! IN any event she flat out told Paul, I was a keeper and he better not lose me…He didn’t.
Grandma Dora used to come to Albuquerque to visit every year and I loved these visits. We made it out to LA once and visited with them and the best word I can use to describe it was…serene. It probably sounds strange for LA, but it really was peaceful and Grandma Dora was the picture of serenity.
She was a woman of faith and family. She loved her kids fiercely…all of them. She would have done anything for any of them. She also loved the Lord with her whole heart and trusted Him with strong faith.
I know she’s dancing with her Father God in fields of grace now and without pain and suffering.
I thank God for her life and for her part in my life.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I had broken a tooth a few months ago and had been trying to work up the nerve and money to go to the dentist and have it repaired. I never could come up with the $1500 out of pocket expense so I was mulling over a decision to just have it pulled. Suffice to say I’ve had some back experiences and ‘bad luck’ with my teeth…and dentists. I think I may be in a bad gene pool for teeth!
The exposed nerve was causing me so much pain for the past three weeks that I finally broke down and went to the Dental Depot close to my home on Saturday (after I went to the requisite garage sales) and sat waiting for the ‘death of #16’. The hubs was with me or I probably would have left after the hour wait. Eventually I proceed on back to the x-ray machine then to the chair for MORE x-rays (the uncomfortable, gag-reflex-inducing ones) and another wait.
The dentist popped in to shake my hand and fight his case for the root canal/repair job, and I said only that it wasn’t in my budget at this point. I think his eyes visibly narrowed and his friendly handshake became a vice like grip as he said… “I understand.”
Why do they lie? He has NO IDEA about dental costs, because I’m quite certain he gets his services free. In any event, the request was made, the dentist left and I waited another hour for the ‘finance’ person to come explain my exit cost as I prayed that my nephew would choose a dental career so the family could reduce these expenses and wait time.
The finance lady came in and explained how much it would be, apologized for the wait. She asked if I was having nitrous and I explained I usually just get shots. She just told me if I wanted to it would be an additionally $45.00.
Then one of the dental assistants came by and stuck some NASTY tasting swabs in my mouth to help deaden it for the upcoming shots. I guess my lack of budget for the root canal/crown resulted in removal from the nitrous oxide program. Then ANOTHER dental hygienist came in and sang to me while she gave me several extremely painful shots. I had scooted almost to the bottom of the chair as she just sang and said… “This is going to sting a little bit.”
By now the train has rolled round…oh about 483 times and I’m so OVER the whole train on the track and I just want to go home and pretend I’m just fine!
But eventually the pain subsided and I didn’t feel the final plunge of the needle as it dug into my jaw line and everything from mid-lip to my EAR went numb. I’ve never had an ear go numb and initially I wondered if that was a problem.
Finally the doctor came in and easily extracted a root and remaining tooth from the bottom tooth that was a ‘failed’ repair from years past and then started working on this pesky molar on top. He pulled and pulled and dug and dug and pulled some more…then he said ‘Hmm, I think we’re going to have to cut this one out.’
“WHAT?????????????” I said internally? This is where I’m thinking, “If this sucker wants to stay in that bad…leave it.” Of course there’s no sharing because they’ve got the bite block in and my mouth is filled with hands and needles and apparently scalpels.
Another 10 minutes and I’m sewn up, filled with gauze and headed out to the ‘finance lady’ to pay my $100.00 bucks. I remember to ask about my prescriptions, which they don’t hand over until AFTER they run your debit card, I might add.
I went to the lobby asked the husband to take me home and go fill the pain prescription. I tell my husband as we’re leaving…well at least my deductible is met now. I also said I would do whatever is necessary to keep from EVER experiencing that again.
…and so 6 pain killers later…lesson learned is…remember to floss daily! And to save for any extra dental work!
Is it Monday already?
Friday, April 10, 2009
Well, since I’m doing this in reverse, I think the next memory stone would really be my 40th birthday. Yes, I know that’s a huge 5 year gap but I’ll cover the gist of that 5 years in this one post…you’re scared aren’t you...me too!
My 40th birthday was actually really sweet. My dear husband attempted to have a surprise party for me with all our ‘closest’ friends, but since 6 people weren’t enough for a decent surprise party…he invited nearly our entire church, to our 1500 s.f. home. He was in school and working…so guess who ‘threw’ the party? Yep, me…mostly. It was fine really. That way I felt more in control of it and Lord knows I like control, even more so back then.
We limited the gifts to what people could create or make on their own. That was the most wonderful part, seeing what people could create.
My 40th birthday was unfortunately also a time when I was deeply struggling with our infertility and Satan had me fully convinced that I was not worthy to have a child and God would NEVER give me a child because of my sin and my past and I was basically a bad person. Of course it didn’t make it any easier seeing people pop out babies right and left…including those who didn’t even want children.
The turning point for me came after reading this book, by this person, which I happened to WIN at the CWA site. I blogged about it here and here. It absolutely changed my life when I realized God wasn’t angry with me…His plan was just something different. By then I was 43, so you see it wasn’t overnight. I still thought about it some and hurt about it often, but God and my loving husband helped me realize God had another plan. Part of that plan is to remind other mothers’ regularly to LOVE those babies and to LOVE those kids and to LOVE those teenagers and to LOVE those annoying young adults and to LOVE those grandbabies…because it could have gone another way.
Part of that plan is still unknown to me because I choose to continue to swing back and forth from God’s playground to the enemies. God says He’ll use me when I’m willing and when I’m fully His. I just keep playing paddy cake with the enemy…
My 40th birthday was also a time when I had lost ALMOST all my extra weight. I looked better than I had ever as an adult. I also quit smoking when I was 40. Sadly… over the past 5 years I’ve gained almost all that weight back, but I will NEVER smoke again! I keep thinking I’ll eventually lose this extra weight, but even if I don’t I’m ALMOST at a place where it doesn’t completely debilitate me anymore.
The other BIGGEE for me during the first half of this 4th decade has been the church-shopping experience. Since 2003 we’ve been to:
The Edge – I fell clean off that edge.
Church on the Rock – Gun-toting members…so NOT kidding.
Bridgeway – Not one person spoke to us and we went twice!
People’s Church – Really great church but not where we belong.
Real Church – average age 17-21, we would DEFINITELY be the oldest!
Northwest Christian Center – Sweet, sweet people, but the pastor put me to sleep…seriously!
NorthView – Not allowed to wear jeans and I just can’t do that. God doesn’t care what I wear!
Passion Church – Scared me and my HUSBAND…not easy to do!
New Church – Good solid church, but a bit too liberal (can you believe I’m saying that?)
Journey Fellowship – Great church, GREAT Pastor, I just couldn’t agree with the bylaws and constitution. Still the saddest church departure for both my husband and me! We LOVE these people and this church! This is where I went through some great spiritual healing.
Passion Church – Scared my HUSBAND!
NorthChurch – I’m just not ready for a MEGA-CHURCH yet.
The Gathering – where we landed for …such a time as this!
Suffice to say I feel like a serial ‘church-dater’ and frankly if I could find even a semi-great home church that’s where I would STILL go!
I think that is probably enough for this chapter and I leave this age with sweet & bittersweet memories. I truly have loved being in my 40’s because it has been a time when I didn’t have to focus on the outward as much and a time when God helped me focus on the inward and such sweet, sweet healing.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
I was completely ready for her antics and said… “Oh, could I read your essay for conversion? I remember when my friends converted and they had to write an essay in order to be reviewed for conversion!”
Of course she just laughed it off. But this little joking conversation brought up the conversation of Passover…yep right here at work! With the exception of one employee, I believe all 12 of my team members were at least raised in a Church-attending home. I know some of them don’t currently attend church and struggle with their faith…I figure these conversations always help renew MY faith in God and I’m hopeful they do the same for others.
In any event, two of the most ‘zealous’ believers (people who have made comments about their faith) didn’t know a thing about Passover and what it represented or what it meant to us as Christians. I gave them a little info then told them to read their Bibles last night and lo’ and behold they both did and could tell ME about Passover this morning.
Today I’m thankful for THE blood and for freedom of speech!
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I have really been hurt by this friend and I’m not even sure she even knows it. You see she is a 99% Sanguine/1% Melancholy. She has a million and a half friends and has never met a stranger. She is the proverbial extrovert! She is sweet and kind and giving of her time…and therein lies part of my problem.
I am Choleric-Melancholy…with a heavy dose of Melancholy. For those of you who haven’t studied temperament it has been the greatest indicator of my actions and reactions and I would encourage you to study the temperaments with your spouses or loved ones. In any event what it means is I am extroverted (in an aggressive sense) and I am introverted with my feelings and tend to get them hurt easily. I am the person who gets her feelings hurt when I’m removed from someone’s blogroll for crying out loud! AND…I have great expectations of my friends.
On the flip side I tend to be more careful with others’ feelings and can relate empathetically to most people who have been hurt.
I was basically taking inventory of the friendships I have and I’m feeling in a bit of a drought lately. I asked my husband (and my mother) why I didn’t have close friends and they both assured me I would probably never meet a friend like I am. Isn’t that a nice, pat answer. Of course with this insight the enemy began to ride me about expecting far too much, after all people are only human and they probably don’t care that much about anyone but themselves anyway.
Leave it to the Reaper to make an uncomfortable situation a bit worse!
I’ve been ruminating on it this week as I continue this inventory and consider my past friendships as well. You see in my temperament it would be fairly easy to ‘hide in a closet’ and become a loner of sorts. I would be a bit sad for a while but the walls would re-form and eventually God & I would have the ‘come to Jesus’ meeting about relationships.
I’m going to T*R*Y to go the other direction. Seek God NOW and ask him to help me with the 7X70 thing again and again and again! And help me find and nurture friendships that He desires.
Monday, April 06, 2009
I worked on my 'mask' this weekend and God showed me it's still full of junk I should be fully over by this point in my life. Apparently I had been snuffing a lot of these feelings because the pen began to work on it's own until I looked at what I'd done in a short amount of time and was a bit surprised.
I'll show you a picture just so you can see my starting point. It's obviously not finished yet, but I had to get the yucky stuff over with. I'll post the outside tonight and perhaps, later on in my story, I'll show you the inside.
The 1st thing I did was wire the mouth shut and outline the eyes.
I've never really felt 'heard' for most of my life. Obviously my husband hears me and my captive audience here 'hears' me (at least the me I want to share)...but most of the time I feel like what I have to say doesn't really matter.
I outlined the eyes because that is the me most everyone sees first. That is what I got compliments for...as far as appearances. I always wondered if that is why I got this droopy eyelid syndrome as an adult because that was the one feature about myself that I felt 'loved' for. Now I have two unequal eyes that...to me...look a bit freakish. Add to that the signs up aging that seem to appear almost over night.I was glad to see that I do feel peace about where I am in my life right now and I can honestly say that at 45 years of age I feel more prepared to tell my story than ever before.
Because I have such scattered and few early childhood memories I think I'll do this in reverse
and see where we end up...
Today I am a woman who is loved beyond words by a husband she is blessed to have been married to for 10 1/2 years. I work outside my home and we have no children. I am okay with it now. It used to be quite painful and I've shared much of that pain here...but I trust God and what His plan is and for now...it's no children. I've basically accepted that we will probably never have children of our own or even adopted. We have spiritual children and that seems to be enough.
The UPside to being without children is that I am able to see friends (that are parents') and encourage them to be the very best parent they can be and to cherish every moment with their children because these moments are truly special and should NEVER be taken for granted. The other upside is Paul and I have been able to keep our focus on each other and I think our communication has improved because it's just the two of us.
I don't love my job and I am one of those people who wonder if I should be somewhere else...but again, I trust God led me to this job and will lead me out when the time is right. Oh...and I've never LOVED any job after awhile. Suffice to say I get bored easily!
My dream is to open a coffee shop/bakery with some friends of ours and/or write full time. Instead I stay behind the safety of this online journey and working the 8-5 job.
Today's memory stone is a reminder from Esther (can't help but pull from that recent study)...I have a divine destiny that is just waiting to be fulfilled...and every part of my story is a part of that destiny...a divinely inspired part of that destiny.
Friday, April 03, 2009
I had the wonderful opportunity to go back to CAYA last night, which is a women’s ministry group that resumed after a bit of a hiatus. I love this ministry, the premise, the history, the meaning of the word. It’s a “Come As You Are” gathering of women and believe me when I say…we do. Women come as they are physically, emotionally, socially…in every sense of the term.
In any event, the ‘leader’, a woman after God’s own heart, spoke to us last night about the masks we wear. She reminded us that sometimes these masks are self-imposed and we willingly take on masks to cover what we deem as unworthy or even unlovable.
Personally I have masks of every color. I can put on a happy mask, a mask of brilliance (one of my personal favorites), a spiritual mask, and obviously the list goes on and on. We all took a mask home last night to keep during this season of reviewing these masks and we can do with them whatever God leads us to do with them. They can be ‘blinged out’ with gems and jewels, or colored black or covered in scripture or just returned exactly as they are. But eventually we will gather together with these masks again and do a bit of a ‘show & tell’ of what God revealed to us during this unmasking.
I know it will be cathartic and healing and most of all HARD. There are so many masks I’m not sure I can even pry off if I try, but I will pray… and listen… and wait…
More than anything else I’m excited to be involved with this group of women, new friends and old. This is most assuredly, just what God ordered!
I hope you have a mask-free weekend! Unless of course it’s one of those facial massage type masks where you get the mud pack and…well you know what I mean.