Monday, December 31, 2012

2013... Here I come, ready or not

2013 is going to be a great year.

I'm going to do what I love ('cause life is too short to do anything else)

I'm going to believe in my ideas ('cause if I don't, who will?)

I'm going to take calculated risks ('cause anything worth while is worth taking a chance on)

I'm going to juggle well and do it with a smile ('cause when you smile you keep them guessing)

I'm going to trust others ('cause it means I'm taking a risk)

I'm going to say NEXT to the naysayers ('cause I don't need that negativity in my life)

I'm going to be proud of my failures ('cause it means I'm trying)

I'm praying 2013 brings you everything your heart desires. Keep pushing yourself and keep believing in YOUR ideas. You owe it to deserve it!

Happy New Year!

1.  A week of intense rest and relaxation
2.  Making new friends
3.  Staying home on New Year's Eve with my favorite people
4.  Time to read BOOKS
5.  Reading Christmas cards from old friends
6.  Hope for a very good 2013
7.  Peace in the knowledge that God is in control
8.  Love for my God and my neighbor
9.  Being happy with myself

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What has happened to personal responsibility?

"We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."  Ronald Reagan

Personal responsibility.  There's a concept from the past.

The tragedies of this month have again brought out the question, who is to blame?

Who is to blame for the bad things happening in this country?  Is it the parent's fault?  Is it the school's fault?  Is it the fault of the NRA and the legality of assault rifles?  Is it the fault of the makers of violent video games?  Is it the fault of the doctors and professionals in the field of mental illness?  Is it the fault of vaccines and the possibility of their relationship to autism?  Is it the fault of neighbors and friends not seeing the signs of trouble?  Is it the fault of the high divorce rate and the crumbling of marriage in the US?  Is it God's fault?  Is it the church's fault?

Taking personal responsibility has, for the most part, disappeared.

We want to blame the NRA for lobbying to keep guns available for legal purchase. 

We want to blame McDonalds for the rise in obesity in the US.  I don't know about you, but in order for me to eat McDonalds fries I have to go there and get them and then put them in my mouth and eat them.  Nobody has a gun to my head.

We want the government to take care of our birth control for us, so we don't have to worry about our sexual promiscuity.

We want government to take responsibility for the raising, education and feeding of our children.  

We want our health care paid by the government while we continue to overeat, under-exercise, smoke, drink and use recreational drugs.

We want to retire comfortably without saving money during our working years and preparing for the future.

We want to give the responsibility for all these things, and more, to an institution that has proven itself to be very bad at managing anything and especially bad at managing money.  Why oh why to we continue to look to the government to take care of us.  They have showed us who they are.  We need to stop begging for them to do a better job.  It can't be done.

Personal responsibility.  If you need to depend on someone to help you with a problem area in your life, look for a mentor.  You can find mentors in your life through older family members or friends, neighbors, spiritual leaders, community leaders, the networks of your friends and colleagues.  People like to be asked for help, but they don't want to do it for you.  Don't depend on these mentors to do your work for you.  Take personal responsibility for yourself.

We need to grow up in this country.  Life is hard, but we aren't in it alone.  God knew life would be hard, so he sent his son to reconcile us to him.  He gave us prayer, an opportunity to speak with him.  He gave us church, an opportunity to join with fellow believers for support and fellowship in this tough, tough life on Earth.  I pray for churches to be filled during this holiday season and for people to return to the roots of faith this country was built upon.  We don't need to look any further than the bathroom mirror to discover where change needs to begin.  Let's decide we want to do better for ourselves, not have more done for us. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

768.  Last day of work before my Christmas break
769.  Red velvet donuts from Dunkin Donuts
770.  New carpet day in the rental house renovation
771.  Enjoying the final couple weeks of my son living with me
772.  Reading books for pleasure
773.  Reading blogs for pleasure
774.  Watching movies in the morning
775.  Going to a 9:00 p.m. showing of Lincoln and knowing I don't have to get up for work in the morning
776.  Listening of off-key Christmas carol covers  :)
777.  Thinking about the peace of Christmastime and getting all my work done so I can enjoy it
778.  Organic lettuce and baby greens salads
779.  Vodka made from potatoes
780.  Advent services at church
781.  Thinking about hanging ornaments on the tree, but ok with knowing it may not happen
782.  Three hours of administrative leave on the last day of work in 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Messy Christmas

I hope you thought this blog title was a typo.  Alas, it is not.  This year I'm having a messy Christmas.  I'm not saying it won't be a happy Christmas, but it is messy, none the less.

Long long ago, when I was a sah-mom, I gloried in decorating my house, inside and out, for Christmas.  I looked forward to cranking up the Kenny G and hanging ornaments on the tree.  I loved switching out the everyday towels in the kitchen and bathroom with cute snowman and reindeer monogrammed towels.  There would typically be an entire weekend devoted to baking Christmas cookies and sweet treats for teachers and babysitters and friends and church parties.  I looked forward to setting out the lladro nativity set and telling the Christmas story to my son.  Typically all worked stopped for a Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or It's a Wonderful Life.  It was Christmas for at least a month at our house and I loved it.

I have noticed the past few years, Christmas has been becoming a bit slapdash at my house.  Eventually I get the tree up and decorated and get the Christmas cards written and sent.  Eventually I get my husband to put up the outdoor lights and hang the wreaths on the windows.  Eventually I bake a few cookies for my co-workers and neighbors.  And on Christmas day I cook dinner for my family and whomever else is visiting.  If I don't cook the dinner, then I must be on the road traveling to visit my family far and wide in this great nation.

This year, I believe is the year I don't eventually get much of this stuff done.  This year, Christmas is going to be messy.

I did convince my husband to put up the outdoor lights during half-time of the Redskins game a couple weeks ago, but the wreaths did not make it out of the eaves.  I did get the artificial tree dragged out of the attic.  We hadn't used the artificial tree in so long we didn't remember how to put it together.  After a few sharp words between my love and myself, and finding the reading glasses and an extension cord, the tree is assembled and lit.  There are no ornaments hung on this tree.  I have no idea when that is going to happen.  There are gifts wrapped in logo-stamped plastic bags arranged around the base of the tree, which is in the "living room" we never use because we didn't feel like moving the grandfather clock out of the entryway and putting the tree where we usually put the tree.  I can guarantee that no baking will be happening this year.  This may be good for the waistline, but it's sad for the spirit.  Neighbors and friends are getting wine.  I hope they're good with that, 'cause that's the best I can do.

I'm attempting to write my Christmas cards during working hours.  I know this is wrong, but this is when I can find a moment or two.  I'm shopping for my mom and dad on line and even at that, I'm hoping I ordered early enough to get Christmas delivery. 

I'm going to guess the very first Christmas was a Messy Christmas, too.  There is just something about giving birth that is messy enough, but giving birth in a cow-stall sounds very messy.  Thank goodness for the angels coming to the shepherds and giving them the news of Jesus birth.  I always like to think they were glowing or radiating some form of heavenly light.  I've never been to Israel, but I've been to other countries in the Mediterranean region, so I know there were evergreen bushes and trees.  Who knows, maybe they had Christmas candles in the barn?  They were probably made of tallow, so no sugar cookies scent, but candles.

Christmas will still come whether my decorations are up or not.  The meaning of Christmas will not change because I haven't put out the nativity set.  Christmas will still be Emmanuel and hope coming to Earth.  And Christmas will be full of joy and family and love without a huge Christmas dinner.  I'm crossing my fingers that Netflix streams a Charlie Brown Christmas, but if they don't it will still be Christmas. 

By the way, if anyone wants to buy a nativity set, feel free to email me.  I'm willing to let it go.

754.  Photography bloggers with their Christmas pictures
755.  Bakeries that sell Christmas cookies
756.  Trader Joe's that sell wine (thank goodness I live near VA)
757.  Off-site meetings my boss must attend  :)
758.  The magi Christmas stamps and a US Postal worker wishing me a Merry Christmas
759.  Kenny G on Pandora
760.  A sunny day in December after many gloomy days in a row
761.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  (rent this!)
762.  It's a good day in the market
763.  Being invited to houses that are decorated for Christmas like a picture in a catalog
764.  Almost everyone likes wine
765.  Remembering good times with old friends when I write their Christmas cards
766.  Children's Christmas pageants at church
767.  Christmas carols

Monday, December 17, 2012

Waiting for God

Isaiah 30:18, So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

As Christmas day draws closer and closer, some of us may find some of our company finding it more and more difficult to wait for that special day to arrive.

I know I have a difficult time waiting.  In fact, there have actually been times I've considered becoming a thief, just to avoid waiting in endless checkout lines in stores.  There have been times I have muttered curses while waiting in traffic, just to be behind the person who needs the green light to become an even GREENER light before they will venture out into the intersection.  And, I must admit, I have very little patience in waiting for my son to do almost anything I ask of him.  (for some reason his timing and my timing are very, very different)

In Luke 2:21-40 there is a story about waiting.  Simeon and Anna are the two people in this story who waited on God.  All we know of Simeon is in verse 25, Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  What we know of Anna is from verses 36, 37, and 38, And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.  She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. 

These two waited for the coming of the Messiah their whole lives.  They believed in the promise that Israel would be reconciled to God through the coming of Jesus.  Suddenly, one day, just like any other day each of them spent at the temple, a small family came to the temple to offer sacrifices in obedience of the Levitical Law regarding the birth of the first son.  Because Jesus' family was poor, the sacrifice was a pair of turtledoves and not a lamb.  The Holy Spirit alerted both Simeon and Anna to the identity of this child and their waiting was ended.

Waiting on God is difficult to be seen as a privilege, but I believe it must be.  Waiting with patience and confidence would certainly be a trait of maturity.  When I see someone actively pouting while waiting in a long line at the grocery store or the Wal-mart, I don't think to myself, "wow, that is one mature individual."  No, I don't.  Ditto with the horn-blarer at the green light.  I've even seen fellow christians spend money they cannot afford, as well as borrowed money, by forcing their own timing instead of waiting for God's answer.  I wonder what the end of the story would have looked like had they actually waited on God's answer?  So when I see this impatience in myself, especially when it comes to waiting on my son's timing, I see opportunity for growth and maturing in my walk with Christ in myself.

As we move through this time of Advent, this time of waiting on the coming of the Messiah, let us strive to show confidence in what we are waiting for.  As we struggle with the brokenness of this world and the tragedies and wars and disappointments, let us remind each other of the confidence we can have in our God.  He has overcome the world.

I found this little image on facebook.  When I looked at it I thought that this little slice of the pie, Wait for His Answer, was the toughest one of these for me to do.  Now, I'm not so sure that each and every slice of this pie isn't a challenge for me, but I will keep leaning on the tenants of my faith and continue to mature as a believer.  I'll not find perfection in my faith, but I will progress and grow.  God is good.

746.  Advent time and the focus it puts on our hope
747.  Knowing that God is in the deepest, darkest places there can ever be, and he is there before any of his children end up there
748.  Fog on the river
749.  A sore back (evidence of hard work, or possibly just weak abs. :))
750.  Husband finding Teacher Barbie in the Navy Exchange (I couldn't find one in Target or Wal-mart)
751.  Someone selling a stove to my son for $1
752.  Looking forward to seeing my small group and rejoicing with them in answered prayer
753.  Finding joy in waiting on God's answer

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Am I helping Girl-11 Family#1 or am I hurting her?

Tuesday I posted about the joy I feel about being able to be a part of bringing Christmas to a family that might not have been able to enjoy a traditional Christmas because of financial hardships.  I am happy about being blessed with enough finances and enough willingness to self-sacrifice and use our financial blessings wisely to be able to share these blessings with others.  It's true, there is real joy in giving.

Today I was looking at the list for the 11-year-old girl I'm giving gifts this year.  She made a list of what she wanted.  This year I don't have to ask my blog readers what the gifts listed are.  She wants clothes and a teacher Barbie.  I can figure this out.  There is a note on my list to tag the items Girl-11 Family#1.  Family#1 is the mom and dad and four children our small group is supporting for Christmas this year.  I will not know Girl-11's name.  She won't get to know my name either, because the school has asked us not to reveal this information.  So, there will be gifts to Girl-11 from "your friend."  This is so impersonal.  This breaks my heart at the same time it brings me joy.

I wish I could go over to Girl-11's house after work today.  I wish I could take her shopping today for Boy-7 Family#1's Christmas gifts.  I wish we could pick out ornaments for her to hang on the tree that will be at her house soon.  I wish we could choose a gift for mom Family#1 and dad Family#1 from Girl-11 Family#1.  Wouldn't that be fun!

What will Girl-11 Family#1 think about her Christmas this year?  What will she think about "her friend?"  Will she wonder who I am?  What about Family#1?  Will they think about the people sharing there blessings with them?  Or, will they think we are just rich people trying not to feel too guilty about our wealth at this "giving" time of year?

I have posted a few times questioning those people who consider themselves poor or whether they are just feeling entitled and are lazy.  I'm not judging Family#1.  I just wonder if I'm helping them or I'm hurting them.  It seems to me that Christian charity shouldn't be anonymous.  It seems to me that Christian charity should have a face and a smile and a hand on someone's shoulder.

I guess I can understand the anonymity the Public School feels is important to protect.  After all, they don't know me from Adam.  It's a shame we are losing community with our neighbors and there is so much distrust, even in a small town.  I'm praying over the gifts I purchase for Girl-11 Family#1 today.  I'm praying that somehow she knows they are from someone who cares and isn't rich, but just wants to share some of the blessings God has given to her.

734.  Christmas shopping for a little girl
735.  Office holiday party (this gratitude is marginal, at best, but I'm putting a smile on my face)
736.  Pandora Christmas stations
737.  Luke 2:1-20
738.  The opportunity to serve Family#1
739.  The color red
740.  Surprise cookie treats from the office supply guy
741.  The movie Elf
742.  Counting the days to a nice long break from work (we get a week and a half off!)
743.  Snuggling under the comforter on chilly mornings
744.  Having a fire in the fireplace ('cause having it in the kitchen would be dangerous)
745.  Seeing nativity sets in people's front yards

I'm sharing (again) with Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursday's

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prayer is what makes it a wonderful life

Sometimes prayers get answered in such unexpected ways.

My son is buying a house.  He is buying our house.  This is the house I wrote about a while back.  This house had been a rental property of ours.  The last tenants we had in this house were members of the 47% Mitt Romney spoke about.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."  (and btw, the fact checker at CBS says Romney was right on the money when it comes to the percentage of folks paying no income tax)

If you recall, I said of the four people living in the house; the baby, the grandmother, the father and the uncle, the baby was the breadwinner of the family.  And that's the way the 47% roll.

And, if you recall, I mentioned they lived like animals.  (I'll let you pick which animal, but you cannot choose homo sapien.)  Everything in the house was broken.  Cardboard was taped over broken windows.  The stove was non-functioning and the refrigerator was full of rotting fast food in bags and styrofoam containers.  I could go on and on, but it's Christmas and I don't want to kill any sugar-plum buzzes going on out there.

Ever since we got the very bad tenants evicted from our house my son and my husband have been cleaning and painting and ripping out horrible, very stinky carpeting and replacing windows and tiling bathrooms and fixing plumbing and repairing kitchen cabinetry and replacing light fixtures.  They have been working so hard.  My son is learning how to be a homeowner in one super-crash course of home repair.

My son is becoming a man.  I've prayed for my son ever since the day he was born.  Every mother prays for their children.  But I'm now beginning to see a glimmer of an answer to prayer I had given up on God answering.  Seeing my son move toward independent living and being a homeowner is something I didn't think I would get to see.  Motivation and being a self-starter has never been his strong suit.  For some reason, and I'm not exactly sure what it is, there seems to be a huge number of adults falling into a condition I call "extended adolescence."  My son is 25, so I don't see him on the older end of this condition, because I've seen it in adults even older than he, but he has this condition, nevertheless.

I've watched the way my husband and son interact.  I've watched their relationship grow.  I think I've seen my husband become the father he wished he had.  I've seen him display patience and love and respect to my son and really show him what being a man is all about.  I've developed a stronger appreciation of the gifts of kindness and gentleness and sweetness he possesses.  I'm appreciating what he is and not focusing so much on what he is not.  My husband and I are growing as parents.

Yet, God is good and God does answer prayers.  He uses his own good time and you have to keep your eyes open.  You aren't going to be seeing me sitting back and putting my feet up and relaxing in this answer to prayer.  I'm going to keep on praying for him and for his success in living this life here on earth.  I certainly don't know what the future holds for him, but I do know he is on his way and held safely in God's hands.

I think back to the movie, It's a Wonderful Life and the scene with George's friends and family praying for him.  We hear the prayers being lifted to heaven.  I feel the power of those prayers and I believe in the power of prayer for my son, as well.

The prayer scene at the beginning of the movie.

Mr. Emil Gower: I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father.
Giuseppe Martini: Joseph, Jesus and Mary. Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.
Ma Bailey: Help my son, George, tonight.
Bert: He never thinks about himself, God, that's why he's in trouble.
Ernie Bishop: George is a good guy. Give him a break, God.
Mary: I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.
Janie Bailey: Please, God, something's the matter with Daddy.
Zuzu Bailey: Please bring Daddy back.    

I know there was a time when I doubted God listened to my prayers.  I wondered what the point of praying was if there were no answers forthcoming.  I believed my prayers for my son were noble and should be on the top of God's list.  I was impatient.  Now I see how God used my prayers to change me and my vision of my son.  God gives us the opportunity to pray so he can use those prayers to change us.  He's not a vending machine.  No prayer is more noble than the next, but all prayer changes us to be more of what God wants us to be.

726.  Christmas movies
727.  Courage to ask for a raise (you can pray about that for me if you like)
728.  Seeing answer to a long time prayer
729.  Seeing prayers answered quickly
730.  Getting Christmas cards from old friends
731.  Poinsettias
732.  Cars with reindeer antlers on them
733.  The blessing of not having to enter the house until all the work in it is complete.  My son wants me to have the Big Reveal

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A bird pooped on me

This morning while walking from my car to my office a bird pooped on my hand.  I've heard getting pooped on by a bird can be considered good luck.  I can't imagine why this is something some people think, but evidently it is.  Maybe there is something about the randomness of it?  Maybe it's because it's a good thing cows can't fly?  Who knows?  Anyway, today ended up being a very good day.

This morning I got to work and my boss gave me 2 lbs. of my favorite coffee.  He told me he was in Trader Joe's and he just thought of me and the fact that he knows I like TJ's coffee, so he bought it for me.  Then I got a call from my girlfriend.  She had the name of a family with real Christmas needs this year.  There are four children and a mom and dad that are really hurting this year.  My small group bible study is giving them Christmas from soup to nuts, and by soup to nuts I mean a decorated tree, gifts, Christmas dinner and groceries and heating oil for a month.  There is just something about sharing the joy of the Christmas season with a family that really needs it.  Both the mom and dad have been laid off work since the summer.  (yeah, I know I'd love to get 99 weeks of unemployment, but I wouldn't want to lose my husband's pension.  I know I'm blessed.)  I found the perfect gift for my son, and I didn't even have to leave my desk.  I was able to give someone exactly what they wanted for Christmas and it didn't even cost me a dime.  Today APPL is up $10 and you know that's been a long time coming.  One of my co-workers put in his resignation today.  I don't know if I'll actually miss him, but he said he'll miss me.  Then he gave me a giant bag of candy for the candy jar on my desk.  My husband took me to my favorite restaurant for lunch and the special for lunch was my favorite, the seafood bisque.  I haven't even reached the end of the work day and so far, it's been a great day.  I can't wait to see what happens when I get home.

So if you're wondering if it's good luck if a bird poops on you, in my experience, it is. 

716.  My favorite coffee
717.  My favorite soup
718.  Giving someone the perfect gift
719.  Decorating Christmas trees
720.  Driving around at night and looking at Christmas lights
721.  Eggnog (but not too much)
722.  My small group bible study (I know I've said this before, but they are the BEST)
723.  Watching a big pine tree get cut down from my office window
724.  Smelling the scent of pine in my office and at just about every house I visit
725.  Christmas cookies