Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Participating in Advent

Advent is the liturgical period preceding Christmas, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.  The focus is the coming of Jesus at the Incarnation and observed by many Christians as a season of prayer, fasting and penitence.

Participating in Advent is a wonderful way to put the focus on what Christmas really is all about.  Jesus was born to be a savior to the world.  God come to earth, incarnate.  Emmanuel.

I've never really focused on Advent in a personal way.  Sure, I've seen the church pick a family to come up to the front during Sunday service and light a candle on the wreath and read a Bible verse and pray a prayer.  This is usually quite entertaining as the small child lighting the candle brings all the suspense and tension of a disaster movie and the verse and prayer is usually inaudible and guessing what is being said makes the imagination wander into areas best not brought into the sanctuary.  Advent always seemed, to me, to be made for children.  I've seen Advent calendars with little doors to open with candy treats inside.  It always looked like the countdown to Santa's arrival rather than the coming of the King.

I've discovered Advent reminds us to focus on the second coming of our King and reminds us to keep Jesus at the center of our lives.  I know this is something I need to do.  I've found myself at the center of my life for far too long, lately.

I've found an Advent app for my iPhone with a Bible study to guide me through Advent.  I hope to learn more about Advent.  I'd like to learn what the candles mean and why there is a pink candle.  I'd like to move Jesus into the center of my thoughts and my life and, certainly, my Christmas.  The first day begins with Simeon and Anna meeting the Holy family and witnessing a promise they each had waited every day to see fulfilled in their lifetimes.  I want my Advent season filled with the anticipation of the coming of Christ, at Christmas and at the second coming.  I hope to be able to share more of my discoveries with you as this ADVENTure in Advent unfolds.

Happy Advent.  Oh come, Emmanuel.

Linking with Em at Imperfect Prose.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missional ideas for "stay at home" missionaries

This Christmas season I've been making an effort to focus outside myself and my family and focus on being intentional in making Christmas meaningful this year.  Most of the effort I've put forward in this endeavor, thus far, has cost me money and very little time.  I did the shoebox Christmas gifts and the Soldiers' Angels Christmas cards.  These really didn't involve too much of my time.  Today I'm focusing on being a Stay At Home missionary.  This will involve more of my time than my money.  I think it's a good thing.  This is what I want to do to change the way I feel about my relationship with Jesus and the way I relate to people outside of a relationship with Jesus.  Below are eight things we can do to treat our home towns and neighborhoods like the mission field they are.  Of course, this isn't just a Christmas mission.  But isn't Christmastime a wonderful time to start?

1.  Eat with people far from God.  People eat at least two times a day.  Try to find a person to share lunch with at least three times a week.

2.  Walk, don't drive.  If you live in a walkable area, make a practice of getting out and walking around your neighborhood.

3.  Be a regular.  Instead of hopping all over the city for gas, groceries, eating out, and coffee, go to the same places.

4.  Hobby with others.  Pick a hobby you can share.  Get out and do something you enjoy with others.  Try a city league sport.

5.  Talk to your co-workers.  How hard is that?  Take your breaks with intentionality.  Pick four co-workers and pray for them.  Just be nice.

6.  Volunteer for secular charities.  What do you care about?  Get involved and do it with people far from God.

7.  Participate in city events.  Don't just cocoon at home.  Go to fundraisers, festivals, clean-ups, summer shows, and concerts.

8.  Serve your neighbors.  Help a neighbor by weeding, mowing, building a cabinet, fixing a car.  Do ANYTHING to show you care.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

And, we're off...

I feel it in my bones.  The anticipation of completing my Christmas checklist on time and getting it done just right.  It's funny, I pretty sure no one else in my family is feeling this same anxiety.  Just me.

I wonder how these traditions became ingrained in my head?  I have to have Christmas lights on the outside of the house, wreaths on all the windows, at least one decorated Christmas tree (but 2 or 3 trees would be better), decorate the house with assorted decorations and greenery, send out all the Christmas cards, bake the Christmas cookies, shop for the gifts, wrap the gifts, clean the house, invite friends to the house, make the Christmas dinner.  Did I miss anything?

I'm torn between wanting to make Christmas memorable by doing the Christmas traditions and making Christmas meaningful by doing things for others in the name of Jesus.  In the end, I'm feeling as if I've added more to my Christmas busyness than I've taken away from it.

I am a woman who is able to remove an article of clothing from her closet for each new article of clothing added to her closet.  I am a woman who is able to toss items left unused or unworn for one year, but, I can't seem to let go of any Christmas traditions.  I have friends who send New Year cards because doing Christmas cards is too time costly.  I know of people who do not put up a Christmas tree in their home or lights on their home, and yet, they still manage to call it Christmas.  I want to be one of those people.  How do they do it? 

I've written on this blog about wanting Christmas to be different this year.  I'm still working on it.  Today I am mailing off my Soldier Angel Christmas cards.  Somehow, I cannot let these Soldier Angel cards replace the cards I send to friends and family, but in my heart I think this would be the most appropriate thing to do to minimize Christmas busyness.  We sent off our shoebox Christmas gifts, but this will not replace the gifts we give each other in our family.  Although, I think they should because this would minimize our Christmas spending. 

Maybe the best idea for me would be to just do less.  This year I will give my son just one gift.  (not counting socks and underwear, because, well just because)  I'm hesitant to say I will give my husband only one gift, (mostly because he reads my blog and he may not be happy with this decision) but maybe just one gift would be OK this year.  As for me, I would like to receive the gift of an organized house this year.  Maybe this will help me have a more meaningful Christmas.

I'm trying to think of my next meaningful Christmas giving.  I would like to find an Angel Tree in the area.  I've seen these before and I like the idea behind them.  This mission is to give Christmas gifts to the children in the area who have a mother or father in prison.  There used to be a department store in our area that always had one of these Angel Trees.  It was in a part of town I don't usually visit.  I liked it because you could go in the store, take some cards off the tree, shop for the gifts written on the cards while you were in the store and then leave them under the tree.  It felt really right and I didn't mind the fact that it promoted shopping in that particular store.  Too bad this store isn't open anymore.  I'm going to have to go hunting for one like it.  I'll let you know how this works out for me. 
In the meantime, I will continue my attempts at minimizing my Christmas busyness and maximizing my Christmas purpose.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I noticed that #ThankGod was trending on Twitter.  I thought I would take a few minutes to see what all the people thanking God were thanking God for.  I thought it would be fun.  I was surprised.  I was educated.  I am so happy there are so many people thanking God.

*Evidently many people use God as an alarm clock.  This was news to me, but check out a few of the tweets I found.

First and foremost, gotta thank the man up above for waking me up this morning....#ThankGod

#ThankGod for waking me yo this morning
#ThankGod For waking me up this morning
#ThankGOD for wakin me n mine
*And many people are grateful God makes the coffee.
#ThankGod for Starbucks. I would be lost...well...more like asleep :)
kaitlynlacass kaitlynbrielle
Caramel latte # starbucksatschool #thankgod
*There are a lot of folks grateful for their jobs.  And they should be grateful.  Thanks, Obama.  The unemployment rate is AWESOME.
#ThankGod for a new job!!!
I'm blessed ..I have more than one job a roof over my head n food on the table #ThankGOD 
I #ThankGOD tht I still hav my Good Health, LiFe, Family, Job, Truck & Im still n my Right Mind*
*Most of the tweeters are happy they have a break in classes, or they did well on a test, or they never have to take a particular course again.  As long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in school.  :) 
3 classes to get through then i'm finally going home! #thankgod 
Last day of school #thankgod 
*Some people are grateful to God for the short work week.  And not everyone is grateful for their jobs. 
last day of the work week #thankgod #ihatemyjob 
*There are plenty of people thanking God for all the physical blessings he as bestowed upon them. 
I love my teeth. Pearly, straight & white. #thankgod
_InfamousBunnii Hii 
#ThankGod for the person That You made me.
Your #tooshort to be my boyfriend. #ThankGod.
*Some of the tweeters were paying attention in Sunday School.  They know God is about second chances and faith and hope. 
#ThankGod for 2nd chances! Where sould i be w/o the Lord's grace?
Another morning, Another opportunity #thankGod #Amen 
#ThankGod for EVERYTHING! The good the bad and all in between! without the Lord I am an empty shell!
I #ThankGod that even though times are tough, he will make sure we get through them as long as our faith is strong.
*Of course, there were many thanks to God for the really important things in life. 
#ThankGod for candy and ice cream.
#ThankGod for Netflix
There's good network coverage here as well #ThankGod  
Moving back in with my mom. #thankgod
#thankgod I took a vacation day tomorrow
*And a few of the tweeters thanked God for being God and doing what God does
#ThankGod For Loving Me!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is it Thanksgiving or black Friday?

I've never been a fan of the black Friday.  I don't like the crowds.  I don't like the pushing and shoving and waiting in line.  That being said, I've become a fan of the Thanksgiving midnight madness.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to participate, I want to gawk.  I have had the pleasure of strolling through the mall or outlet mall parking area looking at the people in line around the block to get into a store to save an extra 10% on an item that probably won't be appreciated and will most likely will end up costing 25% more because of the finance charges of the credit card company.  It's a spectacle that amuses me and saddens me, simultaneously.  This Thanksgiving evening, most likely, I will go and watch.  I will think about the dinner I ate this day while I walk and fool myself into thinking I'm exercising.  I will see the people in their pajamas, participating in a promotional gimmick.  I will see children awake and up way past an acceptable bedtime and observe them being trained in overspending and developing an entitlement mentality.  There will be thousands upon thousands of people participating in the madness.

My desire is to forgo the madness.  I don't want to be sucked into the whirlwind of the holiday frenzy.  I remember a day 21 years ago.  I lived in Monterey, CA.  It was during the Gulf War.  I felt so blessed.  My husband was in PG school and not stationed on a ship in the Gulf.  He was home with me and we were celebrating Christmas as a family.  We were sponsoring an Israeli  family.  The dad was in the Israeli Air Force and the mom was a stay at home mom, like me.  They had a little girl, I had a little boy.  One day we walked into town to walk the children and have time out of the house.  There were Christmas decorations all around and Christmas music playing.  The mom asked me a pointed question.  It was her first time in the U.S and she asked me, "Isn't Christmas a religious holiday?"  I looked around.  I couldn't see any evidence of a religious aspect to this holiday.  Here I was, an American Christian talking to a Israeli Jew and I couldn't explain the lack of religious identifiers anywhere around me.  And, this was 21 years ago.  And, this was in a country at war.  My Israeli friend was worried about SCUD missiles being rocketed into her country.  The fear of her friends and family being attacked with poison gas.  It made me a little sick to think I lived in a country where so many people weren't even thinking about the war and weren't thinking about the significance of the holiday they were celebrating.

We are now 10 years past 9/11.  We have been attacked on our soil.  Our country is at war, again.  I believe we are even further into the abyss and even more intentional in our ignoring of the religious significance of the holiday we celebrate.  I'm afraid we, who believe, may be becoming quieter and quieter about our beliefs.  We don't want to upset anyone.  We want to be tolerant.  We want to blame the government and the banks for our greed and impatience.  We want what we want when we want it.  I want to stop this madness, at least I want to stop it in my house.

What do I want for Christmas?  I want my house back together.  I want a closer relationship with my husband and son.  I want a closer walk with my Lord.  I wonder if these things can be wrapped and set under the tree?  I'm going to try.  I think my next Christmas project will be to send Christmas cards to wounded soldiers.

If you would like to reach out to a wounded hero this Holiday Season, here is a great options that will ensure your card makes it to a wounded warrior who needs to know someone cares.  (IMPORTANT NOTE:  Please avoid sending anything with glitter--it tends to get everywhere, of course, even in wounds and bandages.):
Send your cards to Soldiers' Angels.  They will be included in Holiday gifts for wounded warriors and hand-delivered at major military medical centers and VA facilities across the country:

You only have a few days left for this Christmas.

Soldiers' Angels
Cards for the Wounded
4408 N. PanAm Exprwy
San Antonio, TX 78218

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas child shoe boxes = happiness

I went shopping and gathered the booty for the Christmas child shoe boxes.  This is the project I wrote about in my post about doing Christmas differently this year.  It was so much fun.  I can't believe how much it helped get me in the Christmas spirit.  I'm going to take a pic of each of us (husband, son and me) and add an envelope with our pics and a short note wishing Christmas joy and hope for the child opening the box.  I was able to go shopping with a co-worker on my lunch break.  It was wonderful to share the true meaning of Christmas with someone I usually don't talk about stuff like that with.  I can feel the Holy Spirit softening my heart.  It was fun and encouraging, to both of us.  I'm working on my Thanksgiving thankfulness list, next.  I need to write it down this year.  I think the season has been kicked off to a good start.  Oh, and I hope the church ladies have extra shoe boxes, 'cause I didn't have any at my house.

Gifts for three shoe boxes
Booty = kick ball, lego car, lifesavers, boxers, socks, uno card game, crayons, markers, composition book, pencils and sharpener, toothpaste, toothbrush, and dental floss.  (yeah, I don't know if a 5-9 year old boy wants floss, but, really, taking care of your gums is so important for good health in general.  :))

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I want to do Christmas different this year

Today I woke up and thought to myself, "I don't want to put up a Christmas tree this year."  I'm struggling with the "holiday spirit" thing.  I know I need to recognize Christmas.  My family expects a certain amount of Christmas around our house.  Maybe I'm just tired from all the house repairs and work to organize and re-organize the house a tree came into it from hurricane Irene.  Maybe I'm just broke because the economy is in the toilet and I've spent all my extra cash on everything the insurance wouldn't pay for.  Like all the trees that DIDN'T hit my house, but are laying in my back yard and front yard.  Maybe it's because I've found a Bible study group I like and I'm making an effort to do things the way I think Jesus would like them done.  You can see, my list of excuses run from completely selfish to altruistic.

I heard about the Shoebox Project being done by Samaritan's Purse.  (click the link)  I think this looks like a good way to get me into the Christmas spirit.  I have to have my box done by November 20th for it to get to my child by Christmas.  You may have more time, but I don't know where you are when you are reading this.  Check the link, it has drop-off places and times.  I want to thank God for waking me up this morning with such a Ebenezer Scrooge-like attitude, bah hum-bug Christmas.  I also would like to thank him for reminding me it is much better to give than to receive.  I'm going to do three shoeboxes.  One from each member of my family.  I won't force the others to join me in the making, but I'll ask them if they'd like to participate.  Maybe they need help getting in the Christmas spirit, too.  I watched this YouTube video on making the boxes.

Just thinking about participating in this project is warming my heart.  Maybe I will put up a Christmas tree this year.  And, maybe some lights on the outside of the house would look festive.  I may have to draw the line at cookie baking.  Baking, *sigh*, that is a lot of work...

I've read all the blog complaining about Christmas coming too early and too much commercialism.  But, click on the links and watch the video.  I'm going to share the love of Christ by giving to a child on Christmas this year.  This is the first way I'm going to do Christmas differently this year.  Check back with me and see what other ways I find to put Jesus back in my Christmas.  Feel free to share any of your Christmas ideas with me.  I'd love to hear how your family traditions keep Jesus in Christmas.

Linked with Emily at Imperfect Prose

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There is no reality

Only perception.

This is truth.  Right now I find myself struggling in the quicksand of perception.  I've written here of my son.  My problem, I believe, is my perception of my son's capabilities.  The last diagnosis he received, before he became an adult, was executive function disorder.  As far as I can understand, this is a severe type of ADD.  When he became an adult, he decided to quit taking any medication.  I'm not sure he was ever on a med that truly helped him, but nonetheless, he quit taking all meds.  Currently, I'm struggling with a couple issues. 

First, will my son ever be able to live independently?  I struggle with whether or not this is a problem.  If my son had been born with down's syndrome or any other debilitating condition, my husband and I would have prepared to have our son with us until we died.  If this were the case, my husband and I would be THRILLED with the level he currently functions at.  But, because my son has the capacity to drive, to work, to learn, has a high school diploma, but has no initiative or follow-through, does this mean we should require less of him.  It's such a struggle for me.  There are times when I think, "just kick him out and let the chips fall where they may."  And there are times when I think, "I can't do that to him.  I have to help him."  I don't know the right thing to do.  I've been trying to teach him to save money, to budget, to plan ahead.  It seems these concepts are out of his reach. 

Secondly, my son is an adult.  He needs to make his own medical decisions.  I'm trying to encourage him to see a psychiatrist and re-evaluate his condition.  Maybe there are meds that would help him.  Currently he is covered under my health insurance, but this will only last for six more months.  I don't know what to do.  I'm struggling.  I'd love to be able to take it under my control and "fix" him, but I can't.
It's all perception.  What is the reality of my son's situation?  How hard should I push?  How much should I let go?  How much should I help?  These are the questions robbing me of sleep at night.  This is my unanswered prayer to God.

 Help me Dr. Phil

Sunday, November 13, 2011

15 Adult Truths

I found these in my Google+ stream.  They made me laugh so hard, I had to share.

1. Sometimes I'll look at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. Was learning cursive really necessary?

6. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

7. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

8. Bad decisions make good stories.

9. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day..

10. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. 

11. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

12. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

13. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

14. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

15. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

by Tim Jones                                                                     Thanks Google+

Friday, November 11, 2011


Veterans Day, 2011.

I'm glad our country sets aside a day to honor the brave men and women who have served our county, whether abroad or at home, whether at war or in peace-time.  It is amazing what our country has provided to the world with an all-volunteer armed service force.  Many countries have mandatory military service.  The U.S. does not have mandatory service.  There is debate as to whether or not this type of service would be a benefit to the U.S.

© NYSTROM Division of Herff Jones, Inc.
Mandatory military service would mean upon leaving high school, a man or woman would enter the military for at least two years of military service.  This being said, the young man or woman would lose certain freedoms for a short period of time.  Let's call this the negative aspect of this issue.  Some positive aspects may include an increased patriotism in our country, possibly a greater idea of what direction these young people want their lives to take, and, let's not forget, they will receive training of some kind while serving in the military.  Most likely, up to this point in their young lives they have been babysitting or flipping burgers.

This is just something I was thinking about on this day, as I thank my husband and all the other veterans of this great nation.  As I think about those people camped in tents in Zuccotti Park and sitting on the steps of various state capitol buildings banging their drums.  As I think about our nation's job market and the contemplation of the government forgiving student loans, because that art degree or psychology degree didn't provide a job at the same financial level your parents live or the level Paris Hilton lives, for that matter, and you find, you are not able to pay back your debt.  What will this teach them?  Who knows what a couple of years in military service would do for these young people?  Who knows what a couple years of military service would have done for those working in the financial fields?  Maybe two years of military service would have instilled a bit of integrity to replace some of the greed that put this county in the financial crisis it finds itself today.  Maybe?  maybe.

Thank you, sweetie, for serving in the U.S. Navy for 20 years.  Thank you for continuing to serve our country in the private sector by supporting the Navy and the U.S. government.  You are a man of great integrity and honor, and I'm glad to have been at your side as a proud navy wife.

I hope my American readers will fly the flag today.  Shake the hand of a veteran.  Notice the ship name or company name on a ball cap or t-shirt.  These patriots do not hide their identity.  It just take a few seconds to notice who they are.  I'm proud to be an American today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New ceilings and other updates

This afternoon I want to share an update on the reparations to our home from the damage inflicted by hurricane Irene on August 27, 2011 .  A date burned into my memory.  Good news everyone, the projects are moving along.  If you remember the last house update post I wrote after getting my roof replaced, I have a new roof!, on October 21, 2011, let you know of all the happiness I was feeling at that time.  And, as an aside, I got two or three comments on that post from roofing contractors.  They weren't the roofers I used, but roofers will take advertising any way they can get it and my roof was the prettiest roof I'd ever seen.  :)

Today I will share the news that the ceilings of my son's room, my room and the dining room have all been replaced and painted.  Also, my attic is now fully insulated with new, fresh insulation.  We are warm and dry.  I came home from work yesterday to the smell of paint.  It was a wonderful smell.  It made me feel so good I almost forgot about the three days of living in a total mess caused by having drywall replaced and having a ceiling spray-textured and having all your furniture moved into hallways and entryways and stubbing your toe a hundred times.  It's All Good.  I also want you to know the guy installing the drywall in my house was a total professional.  He did a perfect job.  It is such a joy to have honest, professional craftsmen doing work in your home.  I thanked him and I thanked God for him.  I'd show you pictures, but you would just see pictures of ceilings and they don't make fascinating subjects.  But, I gotta tell ya, they are GORGEOUS.

I fully expect to have many comments from all the drywall guys out there in the internets.  Feel free to comment away.  Right now, I LOVE you guys.

We are currently in the midst of having our deck replaced.  The actual decking material is back-ordered, so we will have to wait a little longer before it is finished.  Right now it is framed and the footings have been poured.  It looks like it's going to be a deck.  It looks like it's going to be a beautiful deck.

I am so positive about all the things getting accomplished at my house.  It's a good feeling, to me, to have things getting checked off my list.  I see the light at the end of this tunnel and it's getting brighter and brighter.

I copied my list from the "new roof" post and crossed a few things off.  <3 this.  :)

  • Drywall - the drywall guy came today and gave me an estimate.  It was higher than the insurance adjuster figured, but we will see if we can get her to change her mind.  :)   (btw, the insurance adjuster did change her mind on the dining room ceiling and included it in the repairs.  :))
  • Paint 
  • Clean carpet - when we have the carpeting cleaned, we will know immediately if we need to replace it.  If there is a strong smell of mold, the carpeting goes.  *between you and me, I think there is going to be mold.  I've seen the evidence, but I'll play by the insurance rules.*  (the carpet cleaners are coming on Tuesday)
  • Deck replacement - fingers crossed, this will start next week. (halfway done)
  • Window replacement - just ordered the window yesterday.  It will take six weeks to come in.
  • Remove all trees leaning AWAY from the house - I have no idea when we will start on this.
  • Remove trees in back yard - these trees fell into our back yard, but these were trees growing on common (*read, community center property)  We will have to deal with the HOA on this.  (Oh, I'm on the board of the HOA.  It will be interesting to see how this goes.)  (it went very well.  The HOA is going to remove four of the trees)
  • Have a Merry Christmas?  I hope so.  :)  (I think Christmas is going to be the BEST EVER)
Thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes in our recovery.  It's been a great feeling to have the support of my blogging friends.  You guys ROCK. (no pun intended.  get it?  sheet-rock)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trusting God is even better than sweetbreads

Trust.  Trusting.  Trustworthiness. Who can I trust?  When should I trust?  So many questions about trust.

We all know that trust is earned.  No one would trust someone they just met.  I saw a commercial on tv the other day, and, of course, I don't know what it was about because I wasn't really watching it.  It showed a guy handing a briefcase full of money to a stranger on the street and then asking this stranger to watch it for them while they went into a building for a few minutes.  The point of the commercial was this; not one of the strangers asked to watch the briefcase full of money, took any of the money.  Yet, your bank, whichever horrible untrustworthy bank, you keep your money is STEALING from you every day with fees and charges.  OK, I get it.  We shouldn't trust banks or financials anymore.  But, I don't trust strangers on the street not to steal from me, either.  I am absolutely sure I would not trust a stranger on the street and I pretty sure I wouldn't trust someone I knew, either.  Everyone has a tipping point.  Some people out there have a lower threshold of trustworthiness than others, but the bottom line is, nobody is completely trustworthy.

Jeremiah 17:5-12 says; Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord." (stuff about a shrub in the desert) “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord." (stuff about a tree near water and fruit)  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ...  I know there are a lot of sick hearts out there in the world.

This brings me back to the question of who to trust.  The Bible is pretty clear.  It tells me to trust God and not to trust other men or even myself.  Btw, I have lied to myself before, so I know I'm not trustworthy, even to myself.  I am supposed to trust God.  Here's the rub.  Trust is earned, right?  In order for me to trust God, I have to learn to trust God by letting God earn my trust.  I'm sure I can find many verses in the Bible telling me to trust God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says; Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 31:14-15 says; But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand;

Psalm 118:8 says; It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

I could go on and on with Bible verses.  My point is, at least for me, reading Bible verses does not build my trust in God.  I need to experience God's faithfulness to build this trust.  And this is a risk.  To be honest, I haven't always felt comfortable taking this risk.  Yet, I have been comfortable trusting myself or others, even when I've been let down by others and myself.  Heck, even my own eyes have betrayed me, as in, "officer, I didn't even see that STOP sign."

I think trusting God is a risk.  I know this is not the Christian way to think, but it's how I think.  I KNOW trusting God is what I'm supposed to do, but it is scary.  God doesn't (read NEVER) think the way I think.  Nor does God want the same things for me, I want for me.  This is just the way God is.  However, I'm learning even though the things I want are good, the things God wants for me are best.  And, sometimes, the things aren't exactly what I'm looking for.  I'm learning God does not cause hurtful things to happen to me when I trust him, but he allows them to happen.  Things like sickness.  Things like mental illness.  Things like hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis.  Bad things happen in the world.  Bad things happen to good people.  Bad things happen to people who do good things.  Doing good things does not mean God is going to keep bad things from happening.  (btw, sometimes good things happen to bad people, but this is another discussion)

I'm learning, in order to develop trust in God I have to start trusting God.  I have to check God out.  I need to give up my stuff to him and see how he does.  I have to give him all my stuff.  I have to give him my good stuff and my crappy stuff and see what he does with it.  This is scary stuff.  To boil it down, it goes something like this.  God created me, he knows everything that is going to happen to me, he let me be born anyway, he loves me, but he knows bad things can happen to me because I live in a sinful world, but he has overcome the world and I just have to stick with him and tell others about him and his son and then he will take me to paradise.  I think I'm going to give this another try.
Psalm 34:8 says; taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. 

So, I'll give God a taste.  I think it's going to be like the first time I tried sweetbreads.  I knew what they were and it didn't sound good, but they tasted delicious.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Men, God's gift to me

Last night was the second time attending the new Bible study or small group, whichever is the best name for it.  As I mentioned before, it is mostly men.  Last night there were nine of us and seven were men.  We studied the first two chapters of Job.  Job is a man that took a licking and kept on ticking, for God.  He never lost his faith.  I need to read the book of Job more often.  I think it would do me a world of good.  I certainly believe my gratitude level would increase exponentially. 

Why do I think men are great study or small group companions?  I'll start with this.  I shared, maybe a bit too much, about struggles in my life.  I shared about my difficulties in church and a bit about the difficulties in the previous study group (there, that's the moniker I'm going to give it).  I shared about being told my ideas and thoughts about what church is supposed to be and what the Bible says to me were said to be "jaw dropping."  I believe church is to be a place to be restored and to practice our Christian brotherly love.  I want to go to church and practice speaking my testimony, OUT LOUD.  I want church to be a place where I can make a mistake.  I can be way off base about a passage in the Bible, or confess my sins and not be made to feel small and unworthy.  Even better, not to be talked about behind my back or "unfriended" or blocked on fb.  (btw, I didn't talk about the fb thing.  I'm not friending any church people anymore.  I learned my lesson.  People are one way at church and another way on fb.  just sayin')  I even used the trite phrase, "Only churches shoot their wounded."

I also shared about my drinking.  I've shared here before that I have some concerns about my drinking.  I don't believe I'm an alcoholic, but I think I had started drinking too much.  I'm working on this and I shared this.

Back to my point, why do I think men make GREAT study group companions?  After sharing, what I felt, were fairly personal and unflattering feelings and activities, I received a response so precious, it almost took my breath away.  They asked me what I needed from the group.  They said, "What do you need this group to be for you?"  *sigh*  No advice.  No chastisement.  No argument.  Just, "what do you need us to be for you."  My answer was this.  Please continue to be here.  Please continue to allow me to come here.  This is what I need. 

Now I'm not going to tell them this was the most precious thing I had ever heard spoken at a Bible study, 'cause they're men and men don't want to be told they are precious, but they are.  I'm not going to say a woman's group would have given me advice and told me what to do and given me examples of their own life experience and how things worked out for them, but they would have.  I'm going to tread softly in this group.  I'm not going to overwhelm them with my neediness, even though I have it.  It's kind of like being SUPER thirsty and drinking so much water so fast you throw it all up.  I don't want to throw up on these guys.  They deserve better than that from me.

Oh, and another thing I love is this.  They shared some deep hurts with the group.  Hurts like, losing a spouse to cancer or divorce or being out of work for a year and they don't cry about it.  They tell you it hurts and I believe it.  I don't need to see tears to believe something is painful.  I'm not a crying kind of girl.  I'm glad they were able to share these things while I was in the room.  I believe they trust me.  I will not betray that trust.  I know, I'm going to trust them. 

I mean, with God, isn't it all about trust and obedience? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

A wish for boxes in my brain

Compartmentalization.  What a wonderful word.  Compartmentalization of thoughts and emotions.  Boxes in your brain.  I wish there was a pill I could take to increase my ability to compartmentalize.  It would be wonderful.

Compartmentalize (verb) - to separate into isolated categories.

Men are born with brains with a high ability to compartmentalize and a low ability to multitask.  I know I'm walking the edge of political correctness here, but let's just think biologically for now.  The male brain has a high ability to control emotions and a low relational orientation.  They have high project orientation and a high ability to "zone out" or act first and think about it later when in a stressful situation.

Women are born with brains that are highly empathetic and have a low ability to compartmentalize.  The female brain has a low ability to control emotions and high relational orientation.  Female brains have lower project orientation and a low ability to "zone out."  Women have a tendency to think first and act second, a more cautious response in a stressful situation.

These are generalized descriptions of male and female brain activity, there are always exceptions. 

I read an article by Rachel G. Baldino about understanding emotional compartmentalization.  She used the example from the Sept. 28, 2006 blog, Across the Great Divide, of the Monica Lewinski scandal during the Clinton administration.  She used the example of how President Clinton was able to continue to govern the country and continue in his marriage while this scandal swirled around his presidency.  President Clinton was able to continue in his day to day activities while the nation watched this scandal and impeachment unfold.  He was able to convince himself, if not the nation and the press, that what he had with Ms. Lewinski was neither sexual, nor did it have any effect on his performance as president of the United States.  I think this is a stunning example of how one can compartmentalize.

Ms. Baldino goes on to contrast Monica Lewinski's inability to compartmentalize her emotions, wearing all her emotions on her sleeve.  Linda Tripp is also discussed as a woman with the ability to compartmentalize her emotions by being duplicitous to Monica in her phone conversations.  Ms. Tripp was sympathetic and acted as a friend to Monica while simultaneously gathering (taping phone calls) information damaging to President Clinton.  I'm not sure if Ms. Tripp is an "emotional compartmentalizer" or just, what we women call, "two faced."

The point I found compelling was how President Clinton acted during this whole event.  I know if it was me I would have been a sick emotional wreck.  I would have been in bed, sick to my stomach.  In fact, I remember Mrs. Clinton lost a bit of weight during this ordeal.  She looked GREAT.

I don't know if I want to be able to completely compartmentalize my emotions and my life, but I sure wish I could do it better than I do it now.  My husband told me to "just stop thinking about it."  (whatever "it" is)  I wish I could do this.  I think my life would be so much easier if I could just store away the thoughts of my "terrible, horrible" mistake.  Or, if I could put the memory of the Great Confrontation (read, big crybaby session) I was forced to endure in a box and hide it away.  But, I'm a woman and this is not our natural disposition.  On the upside, I am GREAT at multitasking.  :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Choose wisely, Grasshopper

"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."  Dalai Lama

"A goal properly set is halfway reached."  Zig Ziglar

These quotes are two ways of looking at getting what you want in life.  They both address the same issue.  Choose your goals or desires for life thoughtfully.  Below are seven questions to ask yourself when setting and working toward what you want in life.

1.  What do you want?

Life has an abundance of opportunities for you.  You are limited by your choices.  Choose well.

2.  Why do you want that?

Check your motives.  Choices motivated by immoral or unethical foundations will not fulfill or satisfy you.

3.  What stops you?

Identify and examine the obstacles in the path between you and your choice of opportunity or desire.

4.  Why is it like that?

After identifying the obstacle, take the time to examine and obliterate it.  Often your obstacles will be internal.  You may need to overcome your fear or change your belief system about what you are able to do.

5.  How have you been perceiving this as a problem until now?

What has been stopping you until now?  Look at the path to your desire from all directions.  Maybe there is a direction you haven't considered yet.

6.  What would you like to believe?

After thinking about the obstacles in your path and after thinking about what needs to change to obliterate the obstacles, consider how your life will be without the obstacles.  Are you ready to take the actions needed?  What will you believe about yourself?  Are these thoughts empowering and positive?

7.  What would happen if you could?

Look into the future.  Imagine your life after achieving your goal.  You may find fear in your future imaginings.  You may see a fear of success.  Examine this and accept this fear.  You will be ready for it when you face it.

Good luck in choosing your goals and achieving them.  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm moving in the wrong direction

How can a person take 20 steps forward and then take 25 steps backward?  I don't know the answer to this one.  It seems to happen to me more often than I'd like.  Back in June I wrote a post outlining my reason for blogging and noting how far I'd come in my journey to be positive.  But here I am again.  I feel like I've done nothing but slide backwards.  For example:

Four years ago I lost 40 some lbs.  I got rid of all my "fat" clothes and told myself, never again.  Never again will I need those clothes.  So I got rid of them all.  Now, *sigh* I need those clothes back.  :(

I was feeling pretty good about myself in my job, but then... clunk.  Yesterday I discovered I made a mistake at my job.  And when I say "I discovered" I really mean, my boss discovered my mistake.  My boss had sent me an email asking me to make flight reservations for him to go to Boston for a sailing regatta.  For some reason, I didn't see the email.  I didn't make flight reservations.  I screwed up.  The flight the others were using wasn't available for my boss.  He wanted to travel with the others.  I failed.  I feel sick.  I know everyone makes mistakes, but I feel just sick about it.  I know I tell myself, "screw it, you don't need this job.  Heck, they can fire me if they want."  but right now, I just feel crappy about it.  The really bad thing about dwelling on it is this... I'm making more mistakes.  I can't focus.  I know it's been crazy around this place.  (btw, my school made the front page of yesterday's Washington Post... above the fold, mind you)  I know I need to do my job better.  I've been super tired.  I'm so ready to go to bed when I get home from work.  We are still working on fixing our house, so I can't go RIGHT to bed.  I need to get things accomplished when I get home, but it is getting harder and harder to do.  Right now, it feels like my job is just sucking the life out of me.  So, what is happening with me?

Just so you know, my boss is OK with the mistake.  He agrees, everyone makes mistakes.  He wants me to get over this and move on.  I know my job is not in jeopardy.  But, to me, it feels like it is.  It's a funny thing, what I KNOW in my head is not corresponding with what I FEEL in my gut. 

The Bible study I just joined is studying spiritual warfare.  I have a question.  Is this the kind of thing that happens to you right after you find a place you believe you are going to be able to  reconnect with the body of Christ and get back into the Bible?  Am I under attack?  Or is this just life? 

Oh, and I would like a little cheese with my whine.  Thanks for asking.  :)   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I met God at church

It's Sunday morning and I tell my husband, "today we will go to church."  I have clean pants to wear and I'm not exhausted and we are in town, my excuses are non-existent.  I'm sure I could make one up, like, I have a headache, but I don't.  I heed the pricking of my conscience.  My DNA is calling me to a house of worship.  I say to my husband, "let's go to church."  So we go.

This Sunday morning brings two opportunities to me.  I ask myself, "shall I turn and leave these behind or shall I take the risk?"  The first opportunity is to listen to the older gentleman beginning the sermon with his corny joke of a boy and and man in a car.  (substitute redneck for boy and rich man for man.  please enjoy.)  I decide to listen to what this man of God has to say, instead of playing Angry Birds on my phone.  He talks of how there are men and women of God in the Bible, and we don't know their names.  There are people touching our lives and making a difference, and we don't know their names.  It's not ME making the difference in someone's life, however large or small, it is God through me.  I have to allow God to do the work through me.  I have to get over my name.  I have to get over me.  It's not me.  It's God.

The second opportunity brought before me came in the form of an old friend.  Cathy was my first friend when moving to this county and finding this church.  Many years ago.  She was an experienced mom.  She was gregarious.  She hosted a Bible study in her home and invited me to come.  She helped me to feel "at home" in this county that was so different (read rural) than ANYWHERE I had ever lived.  She helped it seem like a place on earth instead of outer-space.  I saw her.  I had read she was still hosting a small group (read Bible study) in her home.  I wanted to ask her if I could come to it.  I was afraid to ask.  At first it didn't appear the opportunity would present itself.  We talked of all things hurricane and broken houses and children grown up and time was slipping away.  The talk was going on too long.  I was afraid to ask in front of strangers.  But then it happened... the moment when I caught her eye.  And I asked her to come aside.  She said, "of course you can come."  There was enthusiasm in her voice.  But, she said, "It's mostly men.  You and I may be the only women there.  Would this be ok with you?"  I smiled.  I saw an opportunity to be away from the "church ladies" and maybe this was just what I needed.

I have already attended one gathering.  I loved it. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fingers crossed

I am so hopeful just now.  I have those little flutters of butterfly wings in my tummy.  I have the excited feeling one gets when they think they may have met, "the one."  What or who, may you ask, has aroused these feelings inside of me?  I'll tell you.  It's Jesus.  And, even more to the point, a small group of people who love Jesus.

It has been a long long long time since I've been in a small group loving Jesus and desiring to know him better and to follow his teachings.  It's been a long long long time since I've been with a group of people believing the Bible is the inerrant and inspired word of the living God and not just a book we get to choose the parts we like and leave what we don't like.  Then accuse me of being intolerant if I don't agree with them.

It's been a long time since I prayed with another believer.  I've been praying on my own.  I bow my head and close my eyes and send my thoughts, my fears, my wants, my sins... heavenward.  It's been a long time since I've agreed in prayer with another believer.  Agreed, ...out loud, ...side by side.  (we didn't hold hands, but I'll bet we will one day)  This was an experience I hadn't realized I had been missing so much.  Oh, God is good and he will always leave a remnant.  Even here on the mid-Atlantic coast.  :)

I'm not sure the small group of believers allowing me to join them felt the same flutterings I was feelings, but they smiled at me.  They engaged with me.  And, there was not one sign of jaw dropping at any of my comments or contributions.  One guy asked me why I believe what I believe, but they weren't appalled or shocked and horrified by my beliefs.  We will see how the relationship grows.  The one fellow who, self admittedly, said he thought he had been tough on me, asked me if I planned to return next Monday.  I said I would and he said he was glad.  This gives me hope.  I hope I have found a group of believers willing to join Jesus in wooing me back to his side.  It's what I hope for.  It's what I asked for.

An interesting thing about this group of believers.  It is mostly made up of men.  There were five men and one woman.  She was SUPER happy to see me.  I wonder what this says about me?  I hope it doesn't mean I'm weird or anything.  I hope it doesn't mean I don't play nice with other women, 'cause I don't think this is true about me.  We will see.  I have hope.  Btw, there has been one prayer I've been praying for a very long time.  The prayer is this; "Please God, please send a godly man to walk alongside my son.  Please send an encourager to my son.  We are his parents, but I would love to have another man of God come to my son's side and be an example to him." 

I'm just wondering, is this God's answer to my prayer?  Fingers crossed.