Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I ran to the unit that my roommate and I share to grab a few things that I need for Christmas. This particular unit is one where you enter a code to get in, the gate slides open, you drive through and the gate slides shuts. When you're finished you drive up to, but DO NOT HIT the gate and the sensor, that "never fails" tells the gate to slide open again, you drive out and life is good.
Turns out, these sensors DO fail.
Now I know from experience that you must drive STRAIGHT up to the gate. This particular sensor does not like angles, so your vehicle must be in a near perfect straight line before it will do its thing. My car was board straight.
After about 15 times of backing up and pulling forward and backing up and pulling forward and backing up and pulling forward, I was hit with the realization... I was trapped. To make matters worse, this particular place has about 2 feet of barbed wire going all around it. I was REALLY trapped. I'm spending Christmas behind bars (well a gate). MOMMIE!!!
Of course this unit is also not a manned unit; meaning there is no supervisor, worker or any other type of human on the premises to help me out.
I started wondering, "Will anyone miss me?" "Will the Christmas Eve Eve Party at the Stuckey's be the same without me?" "Will the folks at work just eventually turn my office lights off and forget I ever existed?"
Eventually I call a number that I found, explained my plight to the guy who answered who responded, "Impossible. Those sensors never fail." If Apple ever develops an app that allows you to reach your hand through and strangle the person on the other side, I'm going to be the first to buy it. I explained to the guy IN GREAT DETAIL exactly what I had already done FIFTEEN TIMES and he says, "Well it certainly doesn't make any sense. Try backing up and pulling forward again." SERIOUSLY???!!!!
So for time number 16 (17, 18, 19 and 20, because he thought that certainly I was doing it wrong) I backed up and pulled forward. I began to wonder if the gum I had in my car would sustain me until New Years.
Finally he says, "Ok, I'm going to tell you a trick but don't tell anyone." (Yeah, right.) So he tells me the location of a button, so secret in nature that not even the CIA knows of it. (FYI - it's behind the fake looking rock near the motor.) He tells me to turn it off, wait 10 seconds and turn it back on. I should hear 2 beeps and then the system will have "righted" itself and I can get out.
He accuses me of possibly being deaf (!!) and suggests I get in my car and try again (#21).
So he tells me to try the switch again and just in case I'm deaf AND dumb, he counts to 15 with me.
No beeps. This time he even admits he didn't hear the beep (maybe we're both deaf, I wanted to SHOUT). Then he suggests that maybe he'll drive on over and let me out. YA THINK??!!!???
Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
My requirements for a dog were simple: a mean bark, great with kids (I had none, but you know), housebroken, youngish (without being a puppy) and a few other minor details. Lucy was none of those. But she had the most beautiful, soulful eyes. And from the moment they brought her into the little “Getting To Know You” pen at the Seminole County Humane Society, she had my heart. And very obviously, I had hers.
Lucy is a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix (a Shepweiler as I call her) and Rottweiler’s are known for not sitting straight up – rather they lean, preferably (in Lucy’s case) against me. Also, when she wants to be petted she has a perfect knack of being able to get my hand to rest upon her head. And she’ll move her head back and forth if need be, just to be petted.
I’ve had Lucy with me for just over 10 years now. Each and every day when I come home Lucy is as happy and excited to see me as she was the first time we met. She knows my voice and responds to it (especially when it involves the word “treat”). She knows what it means when I pull out my suitcase, the sound of my alarm going off in the morning, and that tears in eyes means she should put her head in my lap and just be close.
I began to wonder why I am not more like my dog with God. He has given me so much… not just the necessities of life, but also quite a few treats. He has blessed me so abundantly, but typically each day I come home, complaining about how long my day was, how tired I was or how hungry I am.
My dog taught me a lesson today… about gratefulness… and love. Regardless of how many times I’ve yelled at Lucy for whatever annoying thing she may be doing… or forgot to fill up her water bowl… or forgot to buy her treats at the store (accidentally, of course)… she is always ready to show she loves me regardless if we’ve been separated for 5 minutes or 5 days.
And I also realized Christmas is about more than treats and necessities. It’s about a God who loves me so much, beyond so much, that he did the one thing that can save me and allow me to have eternal life with him. It’s about a God who says, “Welcome, child” lovingly whether it’s been 5 minutes since I’ve spoken with him or 5 days. And Christmas letters are about more than sharing my life over the past 12 months. It’s about sharing the most important part of my life. Christmas is about Jesus, plain and simple.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I decided there were some things I wanted... no needed to say to my ma that I didn't get to say before she died. Things that were keeping me up at night and causing the pain and the heartache of those first few hours after I got the phone call that she had died to remain raw.
My idea was simple. Each year on the anniversary of her death, Christmas morning and New Year's Day, I would write my ma a letter. I would tell her everything I wished I had been able to tell her throughout the year. Tell her how much I miss her. Tell her how I long to see her again. Then I would pack the journal away with all my Christmas decorations until the following year.
I also added one thing that I do every December 9 - I read though the first few entries I wrote. Without fail, even before I finish the first line, I'm bawling like a baby. But it's a letter to my ma. Written on my first Christmas morning without her. And daggum I missed her so.
Today is the 9th anniversary of my ma's death. I still miss her so much it hurts. I still long for one last hug and kiss from her like you can't even imagine (or maybe some of you can - know that I totally feel your pain). I can still, just barely, hear her calling my name like she did when I was 8 playing over at the Knecht's. I fear that someday I will forget what her voice sounded like.
In a little bit I'm going to open up that journal for the first time this season. I've got a roll of toilet paper nearby (I ran out of Kleenex!!), my cat curled up right next to me, and Lucy sleeping soundly on her bed in the corner. I guess I'm ready...
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- Garlic (totally depends on how much you like garlic - I tend to use a lot which means I have a healthy heart)
- 1 16 oz. roll of Jimmy Dean Sausage (original recipe calls for 2, but it's WAY too much in my opinion). If you want it spicy use the hot Italian version. Sage works well too. Maple is disgusting. I generally use the plain, original (cause I'm just a plain, original girl).
- 1 package Hormel pepperoni (I use turkey pepperoni - it has a wee bit more spice to it for some reason and it just sounds like I'm trying to be a tad bit more healthy)
- 2 BIG cans of diced tomatoes
- 2 regular sized cans of diced tomatoes (I usually use the ones that have some sort of flavoring to 'em. Onion and green pepper or something - but again, the choice is yours)
In a large pan, saute the onion, green pepper, mushrooms and garlic. Remove from pan and place in crockpot.
Brown sausage. Drain WELL. (But make sure you get all the little brown bits off of the bottom of the pan - those are YUMMY in this soup!) Add to crockpot.
Slice pepperoni pieces into strips (this is just a personal thing - you can leave them as they are). Add to crockpot.
Add tomatoes and stir well.
Cook on low for... oh I dunno... 6 hours? The original recipe had it being cooked on the stove top - which you can TOTALLY do - I just like doing it in the crockpot. If you're in a semi-hurry, you can cook it in the crockpot on high for about 3 hours.
Serve with garlic toast and mozzarella cheese.
Now here's where you make it your own. Don't like sausage? Use ground beef, make mini meatballs, whatever! Skip the pepperoni and double the sausage/ground beef. I HATE green peppers so I rarely use those. Add olives. Don't add olives. What do you like on your pizza? Put it in the soup! (I double dog dare ya to make a ham/pineapple version. If you do - let me know!)
Monday, December 7, 2009
And today, kinda creepy.
Back on May 11 I sent myself an email as a reminder of something that happened 2 years ago. Something that if things were different would make today an AMAZING day. Actually, because things aren't different it still makes today an AMAZING day.
Because of some other CRAZY things that are happening today, actually at the moment I received the email from me, this email became that much more poignant.
God loves me too much to let me be miserable.
God loves me too much to let me have what I want.
God loves me too much to let me get my way - regardless of how much I beg.
God love me.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I am loving me some Kleenex.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
However, I am nearly religious about making sure that Lucy Jane receives her 1/2 Meloxicam each day. Lucy has hip dysplasia in both hips (quite common for dogs her size) and Meloxicam has been, well quite literally, a miracle drug. It allows her to run, yes run. Get up, lay down and even, sigh, climb up on the couch (no, she is NOT allowed to do that, Erica!!). Lucy's spoonful of sugar? One tablespoon of yogurt. She looks more forward to that than anything else in her day.
Thank you, all you WONDERFUL scientists who created/discovered Meloxicam. Thank you, you wonderful veterinarians who decided to try this drug on dogs. And most of all, THANK YOU Wal-Mart for giving me 6 months of Meloxicam for $10!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
1. Organ donors
2. Insanely intelligent cardiac surgeons
Several months ago, I wrote here about my brother, David. The quick update on him is that it was finally determined that he had a bum heart. Bummer. And that he needed a new one (and a kidney for that matter). So after several trials and errors, on Sunday morning he got the long awaited phone call. An unknown person in South Carolina (of all places) had died and had signed their organ donor card. THANK YOU GOD!! So my brother drove himself to the hospital where for the next 10 hours he went through the process of getting prepared for another major surgery - only this time he was getting a new heart.
At some point during the day, the lead cardiac surgeon on my brothers case decided that instead of starting the surgery at the moment the organs landed in Pittsburgh he was going to delay surgery until he could actually look at and inspect the heart (and kidney) himself. THANK YOU GOD!! My brother's chest has already been cracked open twice in the last 9 months - this surgery needs to be the last time and if this heart was not absolutely 100% perfect for him, he would be totally out of options.
Turns out my brother has a big heart, because this heart was too small. So the surgery was canceled and the heart (and kidney) went on to another needy recipient. (Turns out, this is semi-common - who knew?)
Meanwhile in Florence, SC, a group of amazing and wonderful friends were covering my brother (and me) with prayers and hugs and love. THANK YOU GOD for the power of prayer, and the protection and comfort that it offered throughout the very long day.
Become an organ donor. It's easy.
Thank a cardiac surgeon today (ok, let's just make that ALL doctors).
Pray for someone.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Who in their right mind could not love a GORGEOUS Pear or Sugar Maple in the fall? Or the smell of a freshly baked apple pie? How can you resist the urge not to jump in to a pile of raked leaves?
Grab a few pumpkins.
Plant a few mums.
Eat a caramel apple.
Feel warm and toasty and just happy.
There is not one single thing I don't love about Fall.
Only God could orchestrate such a perfect change of seasons. Only He could create something whose beauty is not only evident when it appears so full of life, but SHOUTS its glory when it is dying. Like His Son who lived so that when He died His glory, splendor and majesty were that much more breath-taking.
I love Fall.
Friday, November 13, 2009
My only fear was that I never, EVER, wanted to become like Ned... Ned Ryerson... (from Groundhog Day - if you've never seen that movie or haven't seen it in a while, WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!).
And here I am, 7 1/2 years later, new city, new poor, unsuspecting agent. I am BEYOND grateful for my job. In this economy, especially in South Carolina, a job is a mighty precious commodity and I am thankful for the one I have. It may not be in the city I want to be in and it may not be EXACTLY what I want to do, but I have a great job.
Thanks, State Farm.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I am GRATEFUL for clean water!!
Somewhere someone knows the statistic, but I think an incredible amount of people (884 million) live in this world without clean water. Heck, even in Belize it's not completely safe to drink the water - even to brush your teeth! This brings me to my second thing I'm grateful for - missionaries!
My sweet friend Angela, severs with Living Water, International, down in Pucallpa, Peru. Living Water exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed drinking water, and to experience "living water" - the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So Angela (and up until a few months ago her WONDERFUL husband, Tommy) is down there helping people not only get clean drinking water BUT to experience TRUE, clean, living water.
Sha Angela (and ALL my missionary friends) - I heart you AND I am grateful for you!!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
When I was little, I used to hope each and every day that at the end of "Romper, bomper, stomper, boo" that Miss Sally would say, "I see Alice..." She never did.
When I was little, I was convinced that Lampchop was real and not just a sock puppet. "No really, Mommie - HE IS REAL!!" I was reminded of this conviction for a long, LONG time...
When I was little, I wanted to "Send it to ZOOM" Boston, Mass, 0-2-1-3-4. I never did.
When I was little, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, the Cookie Monster, Oscar, Grover were my friends. They still are.
Happy 40th birthday, Sesame Street. I am very grateful you were such a huge part of my life.
"Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street"
Monday, November 9, 2009
But I love me some Mexican food.
Cause I hate beans.
I see a visit to La Bamba in my near future.
But without the beans.
In case you missed it - I HATE BEANS!
But these posts are supposed to be about things I'm grateful for and WOW I am grateful for Mexican food (just, please, no beans).
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Can you imagine living somewhere where doing that could potentially put your life in danger??
Living here is nice and comfy US of A, I know I totally take for granted to whole idea of being able to worship God openly and publically. I can sit in the middle of Starbucks (drinking a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino, of course) and read my bible. I can go to Moe's with friends, bow my head and thank God for my Billy Barou. I can invite a new friend to church and pray he hears the Truth.
I can do all of this without the fear of being arrested, beaten and possibly killed. And while most of the world enjoys this freedom too, there are some places where the threat of suffering for their faith is a very real and daily danger. Those people who risk this danger are my heroes.
Today I am grateful for being born and raised in the United States, for my freedom religion, and for those who fought to give me that freedom. Today I also pray for those who still don't have that freedom.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I love that fact that for very little money, I can call and wish a 6-year-old happy birthday in Belize. And sometimes I just love the feeling that the world doesn't seem so big and folks so very far away.
AT&T - YOU ROCK!!
(I'm slowly venturing into the whole world of VolP or internet phone calling. Not TOTALLY there yet, but I think it may make me say BUH BYE AT&T. But by slowly venturing, I mean, I've googled it once or twice. I did say slow.)
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
For months we referred to her as the sweet kitty. Being allergic to cats (and, well truthfully, a disliker of all things feline), actually having her as a pet never was really an option - at least that's what I told myself (and Jen).
About 3 or 4 months into our happy co-existence, Lucy attempted to jump out our front (closed) window (at least this is what we think happened). Whether it was to get out to her cat, or to someone who may have been attempting to get in, we'll never know. But the result was a nearly severed paw and a house covered in blood. I was on vacation in DC (yup - lived there for nearly 10 years, but I saw more on my vacation than I did while living there) and Jen came home to a horrible sight. Jen called me, FREAKING out (understandably) and was rushing Lucy to the Vet ER. After our 2nd or 3rd call, my cell phone died and I wasn't even close to being someplace where I could charge it. Jen's instructions to the vet was to save her, but not to anything heroic (???). They saved our girl but sewed her paw on crookedly (which Jen FINALLY admits is true). Since this was Lucy's first real visit to a vet, she was registered as Lucy Jane Brown. I've never changed her last name, even through 2 moves.
Sweet Kitty (it never occurred to us to give her a real name) healed from her abuse and is now one of the most beautiful cats you'll ever see (and, as I tell her daily, the ONLY cat I'll ever own and love). Since she was a stray and was never going to be a pet, Jen and I opted to not worry about taking her to the vet (she really is one of the healthiest cats you'll ever meet). But our WONDERFUL vet down in Orlando allowed us to purchase stuff for her and had her registered as "Stray Cat Wassam." Once I moved her to Florence with me, Tall Paul declared that she could no longer be called a stray cat. And, truthfully, she spends more time sleeping on my bed than I do, so yeah, she's not a stray.
My Lucy Jane acts every bit her age (which we guess to be somewhere near 14) but at times she's just like she was 10 years ago. Often I look at her sleeping peacefully on her bed in front of my fireplace and I cry because I know she won't be with me forever.
They are my girls and I love them with all my heart. I have no clue where the future may take me and I'm realistic enough to know that they won't always be with me, but for now, wherever they are is home to me.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I've laughed, cried, argued and mended fences with many. Some have seen me at my best and stood by me during my worst. There are several for whom I would move heaven and hell to help and many whom I would drop everything to be by their side if they needed me. And I fully believe that they feel the same about me.
Each and every one of them is a gift from God. And I stand in awe over the friendships He has blessed me with. There are many to whom I don't feel worthy of their love and support. And there are many more who I don't think have any idea how I feel about them - how much I love and admire them.
These folks, they are my friends forever.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Things today are a wee bit more off kilter, but we are still family. I am beyond grateful for them. They're mine and I love them.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Ya gotta love being able to talk, email, text, listen to music, watch a video, Twitter and Facebook all with one simple handheld device! Plus there's games, pictues and SO MUCH MORE!!
Ah, iPhone, how I love you so!!
So what's one thing you're most thankful for today?
Sunday, November 1, 2009
This year, for some reason, I really, REALLY want to immerse myself into the season - the whole season - and enjoy each and every moment of it. I want to experience things I've avoided, take time to soak it in, and enjoy this time of year for what it is - a time of thanksgiving for all God's done for me and rejoicing in the birth of my Savior.
So since it's November 1st, besides listening to Christmas, I want to kick off a month of Giving Thanks. Each day I'm going to list something I'm thankful for and I really hope you'll join in. It doesn't have to be something deep or meaningful; it can be something as simple as being thankful for Ziploc bags (which really are a great invention!). There's no particular order, it's just my random list.
But since it is my first day, however, I do want to say that the thing that I'm absolutely most thankful for is my salvation. Thank you, God, for sending Your Son to die for me so that I may have eternal life.
What are you thankful for today?
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I am seriously suffering from it. It's probably, hands down, one of my biggest fears. Bigger than being buried alive. Bigger than my fear of heights. Bigger than being afraid to walk past Pop Weasel's house on Coal Street.
I am completely and totally afraid of commitment.
Wikipedia (don't ya just love Wikipedia??) defines commitment as a duty or pledge to something or someone. And fear as an emotional response to a threat. So to break it down, I feel threatened by pledging myself to someone... ANYONE. That's me. Wuss.
I run - we're talking speed of light running - from anything that even HINTS at committing myself to someone. I leave quite a mess in my haste to get out. I rarely if ever look behind.
I hurt others.
I hurt myself.
I hurt God.
Once, several years ago, dear friends told me that I am a master of sabotaging relationships. And it's true. God, please forgive me, but it is T-totally true. I'm sure that right after they told me this that I felt bad and probably for a nano-second wanted to change. But I promise you, it quickly faded. I said nano-second, afterall.
It's so bad and so ingrained in who I am, that I rarely realize what I'm doing. I hide behind a shield of poor self confidence and a lack of self esteem. I blame it on the other person. I have an AMZING knack to find a speck of dirt and declare it a mountain.
I'm quick to distrust.
I'm quick to accuse.
I'm quick to walk-away.
Here's the really funny part. I desire, no I CRAVE, that connection that you can only get by being committed to someone. I fear dying alone most of all.
I have absolutely no one to blame for this sad state but myself. It's my choice. And it's a lousy choice.
Problem is I have no earthly clue how to change. I can confront my fear of heights. Pop Weasel is long gone so he's no longer a threat. I have no desire to do battle with the fear of being buried alive, so I'll let that one stay. But to allow myself to be committed to someone? To virtually say, "Please hurt me" cause you know they will. To be vulnerable to the point of possible rejection.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I haven't traded out any of those things for really BAD things... like those real serious sins... you know what I'm talking about. Rather I seem have to become complacent with doing "whatever is necessary to keep (myself) from feeling too guilty." Yup, that's me. Avoid anything that might make me uncomfortable. Hide from folks. Ignore God.
BUT I totally justify all of it by talking to friends on Facebook (NOT a life!!), doing the online worship thing with Northland (and though I LOVE Joel & Vernon and others, it's NOT the same as actually going to church) and reading a Proverb, tossing up a prayer or 2, pretending I'm having a quiet time (that's not a relationship with God - that's reacting out of obligation).
Who, exactly, do I think I'm fooling? Probably none of my friends. Certainly not God. Barely myself.
The guilt just bubbles under the surface. I quickly push it aside and replace it with a pat on the back for whatever lame act I've just completed. I get by. I'm honoring no one with my walk - least of all God. What happened to the girl who wanted to live a radical life for the one Who saved her life?
I gave up. WAY too easily. I got frustrated, mad, and impatient. Things weren't working out the way I wanted. They weren't happening in the time frame that I wanted. Buh bye radicalism. Hello mediocrity!
Huh - maybe it is one of those serious sins. God wants me to be hot or cold. Not lukewarm. Not tepid. Revelation 3:15 from The Message says it best:
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Do you have ANY idea what $7/month can do in Africa? Well, neither did I. But check this out:
That's just flat out CRAZY!
When you sign up with Mocha Club you choose a project. I've chosen "child mothers + women at risk." Here is why:
Often, the women and children of Africa are the most exposed and abused, especially in areas where there is war. The young women in Gulu, Uganda are called “child mothers” because they were only children themselves when they were abducted, trained as fighters, and given as sex slaves to rebel soldiers in the “Lord’s Resistance Army,” a rebel paramilitary group in Northern Uganda. Now that they have escaped or been excused as expendable, the community at large rejects them and their children.
The Village of Hope provides homes, a school, clinic, job training, counseling and support for these women. Several of the Child Mothers from Village of Hope who are being rehabilitated are now helping serve and lead clubs for other Child Mothers at local Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in and around Gulu...
In Ethiopia, the face of prostitution is often linked with deep poverty. “Women at Risk” is a group we have partnered with to rehabilitate former sex workers in Nazaret, Ethiopia. Women think prostitution is their only hope and enter that world because of a lack of family support and a lack of income. From our experience, the women are desperate to leave this occupation, but are trapped by the lack of opportunities and rehabilitative support.$7
Intrigued? Interested? Wanna join in? Then check this out:
Y'all this is a GREAT way to get involved for literally PENNIES!! Right now, if you join, you'll not only have the amazing feeling of knowing you're making a difference in a part of our world that is helpless to help itself, but you will also receive your choice of a COOL "I Need Africa" t-shirt AND FFH (Jeromy & Jennifer) free CD download.
Check it out - please.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Sue told me that every morning they wake up thanking God for one more day. Even though it's a day filled with doctor's appointments, radiation treatments, MORE medical bills, a dining room table full of medications, and decisions and talks that seem so foreign and wrong, it is a day - it's one more day.
One more day.
One more day with the man that she's been married to for 36 years.
One more day.
One more day with the father of her children. Her best friend. Her provider, protector and leader.
One more day.
She told me that she knows God has a purpose for this and that her hope is that no matter what, that He would be glorified through each and every moment of each and every day that they have left together.
One more day.
I'm having a GREAT day. It's a day that wasn't promised to me, but He gave it to me. Now it's my turn to give it back to Him. I need to choose to live this day for what it is - a gift from Him. No woe-is-me, no pity party, just pure joy because He's given me -
One more day.
(UPDATE: As of today, 10/23, Mr. Madden is still with us. He's still going through radiation, but there's been no change in the size and amount of the tumors. THANK YOU for your prayers!!)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I wasn’t forced to buy any of that stuff (I resisted using the word crap). I chose to buy those things because I thought each thing would some how improve or enhance my life in some way. Saturday that $30 improvement went for $4.
So as I was packing the left over stuff, I started thinking, “Did God choose me OR did I choose God?” (This is not meant to be a discussion on predestination or free-will!) I CHOSE to buy that slightly too tall lamp with a shade that acts as a magnet to every piece of fur, dust or lint within a 20 mile radius. But that’s just a lamp. What about the God of the Universe?
This I know for an absolute fact: God loves me. Period. He sent His Son to die for me! And as a result, He commands me to love Him. It’s not a choice, it’s a command.
Not a choice.
My choice came in choosing Him. He is the one thing that improves and enhances my life.
Yet, I confess, there are times when that choice is tough. When I’m willing to take less. When the command to love Him feels like a burden. Yes, I just wrote that. It’s in those terrible, dark times when I’m placing more value on WHAT He gives me, not WHO He gave me.
My God, who loves me so stinkin’ much that He allowed His Son to die on a cross for me, deserves so much more than my lousy choices and crappy (there I said it) attitudes. He deserves so much more than my willingness to take less. He gave me the GREATEST gift of all. Am I seriously crazy enough to choose less than that?
I do not want to live without God. I can’t, actually. I choose God. And that choice demands that I love God. And I choose to love Him regardless of whether or not He give me what I want. Because He gave me Who I need.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, of course, was no exception. EXCEPT I had neglected to bring my running shoes to work with me, so I wanted to grab my shoes and hit the gym before doing all that other "stuff." There was no way Lucy was letting that happen.
Ain't no way.
Ain't no how.
Getting T.R.E.A.T.S. is the highlight of Lucy's day. So my thinking was that if give her a treat now, that I could go to the gym without taking her out. I give Lucy her 2 Ol' Roy Peanut Butter biscuits and she took them and hightailed it to the front door - biscuits in mouth. No amount of reasoning with her was going to change that fact that we were going for a walk NOW (she is a dog, after all). And those treats were coming with her (Lucy's also been trained that if she leaves any treat on the floor, it gets picked up. She's been known to carry a rawhide bone around for days. My girl is one smart cookie.)
Surely she'd drop the treat in the yard before we reach the sidewalk and take our usual route.
Lucy took her entire walk with her treats in her mouth. (I SO wish I had gotten a picture of her - she looked rather silly.) To Lucy, those were her nightly treats - all she'd get for the night. There was no way she was giving them up. Little did she know, that if she had just gone ahead and eaten them right away and let me go to the gym, that when I returned, we would have gone about our regular routine and she would have gotten more treats.
Later while I was working out, I thought about Jon Acuff's quote on delayed dreams. And I thought about how much I'm like Lucy. God gives me little snippets of what He's doing to do. Instead of letting Him work in His time, I get all bent out of shape because I think He's just dragging His feet - delaying my dreams.
I don't necessarily think that Lucy thought she was being punished by having to walk around with treats in her mouth. I do know that I think God is punishing me by pacing my dreams. Instead of enjoying what God is showing me or giving to me now, I hold on to it, dwelling on it, because I'm sure it's all there is. Instead of trusting that there is more - more than I could possibly think or imagine - I'm confident this is as good as it gets.
I miss the gift of delayed dreams by being short-sighted.
I miss savoring my T.R.E.A.T.S. now.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I want to write a funny, light-hearted post because I think I've been WAY too serious lately.
Yeah, not happening.
So maybe I'll talk about what happened yesterday at yet ANOTHER church I've been going to recently. I most likely will NOT be going back, but I'm afraid I'm being too narrow-minded (trust me, what happened is REALLY controversial).
Nah - can't organize those thoughts.
How about the fact that I'm STILL struggling with wondering whether or not God is listening to me? Can you believe that? STILL. As I sat there pouring my heart out to Him about it, questioning whether or not it even mattered what I said, He did something VERY specific to show me He was listening.
Nope - no organization there.
So instead, today I wanna do two things. I wanna link y'all over to (in)courage and ENCOURAGE you to read Sarah Markley's post on hope. Sarah has, hands down, become my favorite blogger. I anxiously look forward to her new blog post each day. After reading her entry over at (in)courage, why not hop on over to her blog - it'll bless your socks right on off.
And finally, this:
Friday, September 25, 2009
The situation hasn't changed.
The problems haven't changed.
And yet today, I feel totally different.
God didn't change.
His promises haven't changed.
So what happened? It's me. It's my heart. I choose to trust. I choose to take refuge. I choose to rest in the knowledge that HE is in control. I choose to let myself be surrounded by Him.
I choose to let Him do what He is good at, instead of relying on myself.
He chooses to protect, heal, comfort and provide.
I choose to live this day for Him and not for me. I choose to be thankful for what I have, not what I want.
I choose God.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I have a Qwerty keyboard phone.
I have no little letters over corresponding numbers.
WHICH NUMBER IS THE R??
Now I realize this sounds silly and stupid, but I seriously could not dial that number! I have no landline in my house (and therefore no other phone) and unless I planned on writing out all the numbers with their 3 little letters, remembering that the 1 doesn't have any and Q & Z don't get a numbers (which just isn't fair if you ask me!) I was just flat out stuck.
And can you imagine me calling someone? "Hey, Amanda, can you tell me what the number is for 800-Air-Tran?" Yeah, THAT sounds stupid!
My inability to make one stupid phone call because of the lack of a "T" over my "8" just added to my feelings of inadequacy, stupidity, and loserness last night. So I did what any girl would do when faced with not knowing what number the "I" is (4) - I cried, big boo hoo, whoa is me tears. (Because searching the internet for a solution or iTunes for an app just didn't occur to me until this morning.)
Isn't it funny the things Satan uses to beat us down? He got me good yesterday, and admittedly, a bit this morning too. As I struggle to work through the stuff I need to work through, I was comforted by something I read today:
Then she wrote, "He counts the number of stars; He gives names to them all (Psalm 147:4). If the God of our universe (and it's bigger than we can imagine) knows the name of every single star we see in the sky (and those we can't see) calls me His child and knows the very number of hairs on my head (Matt 10:30) - how can I not trust Him with my life and my future?!"
Thank you, Jeanette.
Go away Satan.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Since I knew I didn't have the most IDEAL family situation, I didn't want to admit, or think, or believe that whatever I felt about God or about how God loved me had anything to do with growing up Wassam. Turns out, I think maybe it did (catch that - I'm STILL not totally admitting it, am I?).
In case the 5 folks who read this don't know (yup - I've grown from 3 to 5!) my parents divorced when I was 3. My dad tried for a few years to be a dad, but eventually gave up. I don't doubt for one moment that my dad loved me (and never have). He pretty much only came into my life when he had money to pay some child support (meaning he hadn't gambled it all away) and when he was sober. I could go for years without hearing from my dad.
I knew my daddy loved me, but TRUST was what was missing. I learned to not ask my dad for anything - not because he didn't want to get it for me, he really did - he just couldn't, or as I sometimes thought, he just didn't hear me. When I'd call my daddy and ask him to come see me or whatever, most often he was either too broke or too drunk.
Turns out, I view God much the same way. It has taken me a very long time to admit that. Slowly I am trying to change my thoughts that God isn't listening to me because He can't or doesn't want to. I am trying desperately to grasp the concept that God my Father ALWAYS listens, ALWAYS hears, and ALWAYS answers.
God is never too anything to not hear me. God isn't ignoring me. God isn't avoiding answering my prayers.
God isn't my daddy, He's my Father.
My earthly daddy loved me as best he could, being the sinful, human that he was. Near the end of his life, he got to know my Father in a sweet, wonderful way. My daddy walked away from the things that came between he and me, and walked toward a relationship with the One who loved me the way he never could.
My heavenly Father loves me in ways that I will never, ever fully comprehend and in ways that I'm just now starting to understand. He is never too anything not to listen to me. His silence (which I talked about here) has everything to with His CRAZY love for me. My response to Him is to trust.
Even the silences.
Friday, September 18, 2009
You see, I'll be one of those people who live to be history makers at a young age. Oh, I'll have moments, good and bad, but I will wipe away the bad and only remember the good. In fact that's all I remember, just good moments, nothing in between, just living my life to the fullest. I'll be one of those people who go somewhere with a mission, an awesome plan, a world-changing plan, and nothing will hold me back. I'll set an example for others, I will pray for direction.
I have my life before me. I will give others the joy I have and God will give me more joy. I will do everything God tells me to do. I will follow the footsteps of God. I will do my best!!!
The above was not reprinted with permission. But it's the story, the thing that I read that changed EVERYTHING for me. It was written by Brooke Bronkowski when she was twelve years old.
I'm... well I'm not twelve. And I have no idea how much of my life I have ahead of me. But more than anything else, I want to live the way Brooke desired to live.
I want to be happy.
I want to tell others about Christ.
I want to go somewhere with a mission, an awesome plan, a world-changing plan.
I. Won't. Be. Held. Back.
A few years later, Brooke was killed in a car accident. Brooke lived her brief 14-years exactly the way she wanted. Brooke did her best.
I pray, with all my heart, that I will too.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
1. Always say "Please" and "Thank you."
2. Cover your mouth when you cough.
3. Never wear white after Labor Day.
4. Always give up your seat on the bus for someone older than you.
5. Never interrupt an elder/authority figure when they are speaking.
Representative Joe Wilson, whether he was correct or incorrect on his assessment of President Obama and his health care plan, was wrong for interrupting an authority figure. My ma taught me that there can be a time and place to speak your mind. She also told me it is never necessary to be rude to get your point across. And, in all honesty, it shouldn't really matter whether President Obama is lying or not, the fact of the matter is that based SOLELY on the grounds of human decency and manners, he was wrong for yelling out like that.
Now, to his credit, Rep. Wilson DID call and personally apologize to President Obama (just like my ma would make me do), and, by all appearances, was genuninely sorry FOR INTERRUPTING. If I got in trouble for interrupting a teacher, I had to go and apologize to the teacher, I did not have to stand in front of the entire school and apologize to them. Retribution had been made to the offended party. The entire school, while they may have been outraged that I interrupted and disagreed with what I said, were not the ones who I disrespected. The offense was between me and the teacher.
But it appears, that we "mature" adults need to take everything to the next level. Yesterday morning I heard a comment made by someone, whom up until that moment I actually admired, that literally made me ill.
"Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that racial politics played a role in South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech to Congress last week..."Sigh...
I mean, COME ON!
Even Rep Wilson's wife thought the interruption was wrong, but racial?
I am not about to even HINT that there have not been some racially motivated comments made to and against President Obama. There have been. And the people who have made them are WRONG and STUPID and just flat out immature. BUT to even insinuate that what Rep Wilson did was racially motivated?
At least RNC Chair Michael Steele (who, if you don't know, is African-American) said that former President Carter if flat out wrong. And I agree (as well as every person I've talked to about this). And it turns out that as of last night, so does the White House.
But I'm sure that there are folks out there who agree with former President Carter. Which, I suppose, is their right. But I have a couple of questions for those people:
- Was Kanye West's interruption of Taylor Swift's speech racially motivated??
- Does Serena Williams secretly harbor some hatred toward all people Asian, hence her tirade on the line judge?
People make stupid choices. Sometimes people act out of anger and frustration. But not every choice or comment is racially motivated.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I have the movie Dirty Dancing memorized. Line for line with every ounce of emotion that they used.
When I watch the movie on TV and they've cut a scene to save time, I take it as a personal offense. I have watched that movie so many times that I can even tell you what everyone was wearing in any particular scene.
So this is a sad day (no I'm not cowered in a corner wailing, just sad). And it's a good time to remember some of my most favorite lines from this movie. What are yours? (And did anyone but me ever wondered what happened to Baby & Johnny after the dance??)
(And my high school friend, Felicia, put one on my Facebook page that I loved too - it's the one where Baby confronts her dad after he had helped Penny. What a great line about equality.)
RIP Patrick Swayze.
Monday, September 14, 2009
1. I went to Belize
Have a nice day.
On Saturday morning I was out and about and during one of my stops a woman (whom I don't even know, FYI) came up to me, handed me a cookbook that I had looked at before, wanted but had opted NOT to spend $25 on it, and told me that she received this book as a gift, had one already and asked if I would like to have it. Excuse me? Who does that?? TO A TOTAL STRANGER???
(Did anyone besides me catch the humor of the picture of the frappuccinos being near "I Gave Up Two Mochas For Africa" logo? Nice, huh?)
Friday, September 11, 2009
I am blessed that the one person I knew who was there at the moment of impact was low enough in the second tower to leave moments before the building collapsed. He walked out of the building, out of the city, and kept walking for hours all while the world crashed around him.
My brush with paralyzing fear came from my brother who lives near Pittsburgh. During the time when it was being reported that a plane was headed toward Pittsburgh my brother was locked in a bank vault. After the second plane hit the bank manager had everyone in the bank move into the vault. They stayed there until the airspace was declared clear.
Because of how a vault is built, no one had cell phone service. For what seemed like an eternity I dialed, redialed and redialed my brother's phone. Most of the time I got the dreaded, "All circuits are busy" and when I did get through it would ring
I stayed on my landline with the person I had been talking to when it all started for hours. Neither of us were willing to hang up and be alone with our thoughts and fears. I used my cell phone to continue to call my brother. My TV continued to flash images of the beast that was destroying my safe, cocooned world. I very nearly couldn't function from the fear that gripped my heart. FINALLY someone reported that the plane headed for Pittsburgh went down in a place I'd never heard of and will now never forget. The "relief" I felt immediately afterward seemed out of place and insensitive. But somewhere near Pittsburgh my brother was alright. For a few moments my world was alright.
But only for a few moments.
I am fortunate in that my life has changed very little since 9/11. But so many out there have paid and are paying a great price. To those who lost loved ones that terrible day, I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am. Know that one day those responsible will pay dearly for their deeds - if not in this life, in the next.
Those of you who lost loved ones as a result of defending my freedom, again, words will never adequately describe my gratitude.
And for those of you who are making sure that my life continues not to change, who are the good guys and not the bad...
I love you.
This is our generations Pearl Harbor, JFK and Martin Luther King. This is the day none of us will ever forget. Each of us was directly or indirectly affected. Each of us has a story. What's yours?
(I was inspired to write this post based on some of the amazing stories I read over at (in)courage. Check them out - they'll inspire you too.)