Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Are You Connected?

I am . . . well, as connected as I'll ever be. Got my new Palm (a Tungsten T2 on eBay at a great price) and now I have my info at my fingertips, no matter where I am. Got my new cell phone (even more free minutes now that it's paid for by my company) complete with earbud for hands-free connectivity! Got my laptop set up with my wireless connection, so no matter where I am in my house, I can be online (and probably in your house too!). Oh yeah, I'm connected! But I'll never be as connected as the next guy, the one who has internet access through his PDA phone, or the one who has a docking station for his laptop set up in his car.

The need to be connected today is ubiquitious, whether it's the need for a better calling plan with more minutes, or quicker access to online information. Today on my way home from work, I panicked as I made call after call to different people, trying unsuccessfully to get through. No, this phone's only 3 months old - it can't be broken, I thought. Even though it appeared to dial the numbers, I couldn't hear a sound - not even the sound of the keypads as I dialed. Whatever would I do without my phone if it had to be sent for repairs? Then I realized I still had the ear piece connected from a previous call! I laughed aloud as I realized how many people I'd called and hung up on over the last few minutes!

If only I had that same drive in my quest for to be connected with God. A few years back, the phrase "plugged in" became a popular term, especially among youth workers, to describe the kind of relationship we all want with God. I know our church is working hard to help members, especially new believers, feel connected. It occurred to me that the Apostle Paul had the right idea which he shared with the Philippians when he encouraged them to "pray without ceasing." Instead of prayer being restricted to short periods of time, we should always be in an attitude of prayer, so that we're comfortable talking to . . . as well as listening . . . to God. I want to be always listening to His voice, open to the Holy Spirit's leading and conviction, and in a habit of sending every little concern up to Him in prayer instead of brooding and fretting about things. I want to be connected where it really matters.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

So Much to Blog, So Little Time

I blog mentally all day long. Little things pop into my head and I immediately begin wording my next blog entry. But then oops! That darn phone rings and there's another customer needing something - again! (The nerve of them!) I think I create about 5 blog entries a week but somehow they never find their way to my site. I guess that's why I have yet to have an article published or get that first chapter down on paper . . . it's all in my head. Hmmm, maybe a voice recorder might help?

Miss Expedite

I have a customer at work who calls in three to four times a week, frantically needing something expedited. She talks about 100 miles per hour, and apologizes profusely as she mumbles her way through her list of open purchase orders. It's never her fault .. . it's always the system or some other phantom factor. My partner and I jokingly call her Miss Expedite!

But I got to thinking about this later and I realized I too can be a Miss Expedite at times. How many times do I come running to God with an emergency brought on by my own failure to walk with Him on a daily basis? Of course, God always comes through for me . . . sometimes simply with the assurance of His everlasting presence. I hope Miss Expedite knows we'll always try to come through for her!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving Memories

This year will be my first time to host Thanksgiving at my house. Oddly enough, it will be nothing like what I've dreamed of doing for years. As a young girl, I hovered at my gram's elbow in the kitchen for so many Thanksgiving dinners, I think I could do one in my sleep. The first year after my gram broke her hip, I did it at her house. I got up at 4am and ran next door to her house, knowing that a broken hip was not likely to keep her down. I remember her sitting there in the kitchen as I cleaned and stuffed the turkey, my eyes barely open. I kind of took over the job in my gram's waning years, some years doing most of it at my mother's house (guess I hogged the kitchen)!

Since I've been married, the feast has been a cooperative affair between my mother, sister and I. Somehow I managed to claim the turkey and fixin's as my turf, leaving the pies to my sis, and the dishes to Mom (I claim no experience with a dishwasher)!

I've looked forward to the day when I would carry on the tradition in my own home and this is the year. But like I said, it will be nothing like I've planned.

First of all, it will be my in-laws, not my own family, that I host. Hopefully the burner covers I ordered will arrive in time for me to turn my stove into a buffet server. Half of us will eat in the diningroom and the other half in the livingroom at the card table. (There's only eight of us, so by now you should be able to gauge the size of my kitchen!) Instead of Gram's fine china, we'll eat off of the best Dixie plates money can buy. I guess we'll toast our pop cans in lieu of goblets filled with our traditional cranberry juice. I'm sure we'll pass on my Serbian grandfather's toast of "Nostrovia" which my sister and I purposely mispronounced as "nostrils all over ya!"

But hey, it will still be Thanksgiving. A day to give thanks and for so much. I don't know why it is that not all of our dreams come true. Perhaps sometimes we're not dreaming the right dreams. And look at all the blessings we have which we never could have dreamed about. God knows exactly who and what we need in our lives, and has blessed us exceedingly abundantly.

My sister and I were talking today about Thanksgivings past. We both long for another like we enjoyed growing up. The day began with a festive, yet formal dinner around 1:00 pm, followed by the women gathering in the kitchen to handle the dishes while the men solved the problems of the world. Then my sister would crank out the tunes on the piano, and occasionally Gram would chime in with her rendition of "They Go Wild, Simply Wild Over Me," a song dedicated to her loveable but eccentric sister. When we were younger, my sister and I provided the entertainment in the form of plays and programs, specially written and produced by the two of us. What productions we had! By 5:00 pm most of us had found a comfortable corner and dozed off, until we heard the rattling in the kitchen which meant an encore of leftovers.

We both know we can't go back again! So this Thanksgiving we'll just indulge ourselves in some very pleasant memories, while making some new ones. Next to giving thanks, isn't that what we all cherish most about Thanksgiving - the memories?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Little Old Ladies

I couldn't think of a title for this post. But today as I went to the grocery store, a wonderful feeling of nostalgia and love swept over me. I guess I'm silly, but I rather like going to the grocery store during the day. Sure, the lines are a little longer but they're mostly occupied by some of the most beautiful people in the world, older folk making their weekly trip to the grocery store for a handful of items. Yep, checkout time is slow as they carefully inspect with squinting eyes each item as it's rung up. They still write checks, or fumble through their wallets for the exact change. Before they leave the checkout area, they go over their receipt with a fine tooth comb in case they were overcharged a few cents. Some people have no patience with these folk and to them my advice is find another time to shop. I, for one, enjoy these wonderful people. They've earned their right to take things slow. They're in no hurry and they don't need to be. Life is passing by them quickly enough but they've learned to enjoy the moments. Most of them always have the time for a smile.

Sometimes I wonder, do they have children and grandchildren who love and appreciate them? I have to resist the urge to reach out and hug some of them at times. Today I really wanted to ask one of them what cut of meat would be best for soup (I should have; the piece I picked was really tough)!

These days remind me of good times with my gram. Although she loved going out to eat or to see a show, she was just as happy when I took her to the grocery store. First we'd pick out the fixin's for a salad, and no one made a salad like Gram. Then we'd linger at the meat counter for a bit. She was always able to coax the best cuts of meat and good soup bones from the butchers, having been a butcher herself years ago. She took her good old time at the checkout too, and I used to get a tad embarassed if she questioned her receipt. But she was just as diligent to make things right if she was undercharged as she was when they overcharged her, and she was always gracious and kind.

Not only don't I have a title for this post; I can't think of a way to end it. I guess I'm just thankful for these people and wish more people gave them the respect they deserve.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

One Week Ago Tonight . . .

were you, like me, hoping, waiting & praying about the election results? Isn't it funny how quickly life returns to normal? And how quickly the rest of the world has moved on as well? I mean, just a day later, the top news story seemed to be the Scott Peterson trial!

Happiness Really Is a Choice

As usual, I have only bits and pieces of thoughts I'd like to blog about. Much of my mental blogging time of late (i.e. drive time) has been consumed with trying watching someone I love destroy herself. Last week I had myself completely convinced everything was my fault, until I realized (for once) that's not the case. This person is choosing to be miserable, blaming everyone else for their problems and refusing to accept that they are part of the problem. As a person with a problem-solving personality, it's hard for me to stand by and watch this self-destruction. And yet I think I've come to the place where I understand I can't fix everything. I can pray, I can make phone calls, I can listen. But some things are just out of my control.

Anyways, watching this scenario unfold has driven home the point that ultimately, my happiness is up to me. I mean, I'm the one who decides to forgive or stay bitter. I'm the one who can take everything personally or learn to let things go. I can be a loner or I can reach out and be a friend.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

When All Else Fails . . .

Blame the bloggers! http://www.postgazette.com/pg/04310/406921.stm No matter that the media can pick and choose how and what it wants to report, let a blogger speak his mind on the political process and it's "misleading." Unbelievable. Although I chose not to blog on the recent elections, I enjoyed reading many different ones on the subject over the last few months. I think the media is threatened by the prospect of free thinkers exercising their right to free speech. Yikes!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Redeeming the Time

I've always wondered about this snippet found in Ephesians 5 in the familiar KJV. I always thought it meant "buying back the time," since we generally understand the term redemption to mean Christ bought us back. I like how the NIV reads though: making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Fact is, we're all going to spend our time, as surely as we spend the dollars and cents in our pockets.

I tend to get very selfish with my time and greatly resent any encroachment upon it. My mom used to comment how miserable I was when I had money. Maybe she was right. I was always happier broke! Although I can shop as well as anyone, whenever I have some discretionary funds I usually find more joy in giving somehow.

I'm learning the same is true with my time. I can be very miserly when I have some time to myself. Honestly, I can be downright ugly about it! I want to plan every second so I get the most out of it. But I often find it's like trying to hold some of that squishy blob stuff we played with as kids. The tighter you grasp it, the quicker it eludes your control. But if you cup it gently in your hands, you can contain and enjoy it. I'm trying to do that with my time. Loosen my grip on it, so to speak. Yes, there's something to be said for not wasting time, spending endless hours surfing the net or glued to the TV set. My time is as much mine to give though, as it is to spend.

I guess these thoughts have been running through my head since I'll actually have a day to myself every week. Oh Lord, help me to remember that "this is the day YOU have made" and that my times are in your hands!

This Blogging Phenomenon

Blogging amazes me in that just about anyone with internet access can express their thoughts and present them in a form instantly accessible to others. I often wonder if published authors who've paid their dues and subjected themselves to the whims of editors and restraints of the industry don't resent bloggers just a bit? I'll admit, right now it works for me. It's an easy and painless way of getting my thoughts out.

But the other part of blogging that baffles me is how quickly we feel connected to people in cyberspace we've never met. For example, I recently discovered this wonderful blog, http://debrasthoughts.blogspot.com. Everytime I visit, it's like a trip down memory lane and a personal word of encouragement rolled into one. Another blog I enjoy is http://cindyswanslife.blogspot.com. Cindy is a talented radio personality, devoted Christian and one of those easy to read writers. Those are just a few examples, but it's always nice to "meet" others who challenge us in our thinking and Christian living.

Well, starting next week I become a 4-day girl. I'll work 4-ten hour days and have a different day of the week off each month. I'm planning to spend some of that time focusing on writing again. I had such lofty goals at the beginning of this year but life took some unexpected turns. Anyways, my only problem now will be ensuring I use my days wisely.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Something to Blog About

Lots of thoughts chasing each other around in my head these days but I can't seem to find the time to get them out! Well, one thing that's been on my mind is an appreciation for God's unconditional love. I like to think that I too, offer unconditional love to those around me but this week it occurred to me that I play favorites. Yep, I do. See, I deal with customers all day long now, and it's easy to categorize them into the ones we like, the ones we dislike, and there are even a few we tend to "hate." Naturally, it's a joy to serve customers who email their POs to us with cute little poems, or the ones who are always pleasant. It beats me how some customers can be so demanding, but there are those who we can just never seem to please. I notice I tend to bend over backwards to take care of the nice ones, while giving the others the bare minimum attention to their unreasonable demands.

Now if God were a customer service rep and I were one of his customers, I wonder which category I'd fall into. Me thinks I might be one of those last-minute customers, always rushing in on deadline with an urgent prayer request. My morning prayers often consist of more demands (Bless me . . . keep me safe . . . help me get through this day) than praises and a heart desiring to seek him. Yet He welcomes me with loving arms anytime I call upon Him. His love for me is not based on my efforts to please Him, but rather on His righteous, loving grace.

Jesus said it's not really any big deal for us to be nice to those who treat us well. That's a given. While I wouldn't consider any customer an "enemy," I realize I need to see the problem ones as an opportunity to share God's love, at least in my attitude towards them.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Extreme Righteousness

I'm just about finished with this excellent book by Tom Hovestol. As I said in a previous blog entry, I started this book hoping to further justify my frustration with the fundamentalist movement. That frustration in itself puzzles me, because I've been away from it for almost ten years now, yet I still feel a need to understand how it affected my thinking. Anyways, what I found in Hovestol's book has been little more than a mirror that reflects my own sense of prideful self-righteousness.

These religious leaders were some of the most spiritual men alive in that day, yet Christ directed some of the most deprecating judgments towards them. Who can find fault with their motives: to uphold and preserve the law of God? Yet in their efforts to live righteously, they lost sight of the righteous One. And their motives blurred their perspective. So enamored were they with their adherence to the law, they failed to see the condition of their hearts.

Before reading this book, I approached the Gospel accounts with an assumption that the Pharisees and I had little in common. This book has convinced me of two things: 1) a need to keep my eyes on Christ and 2) an awareness of my own sinful condition.

It's so easy for me to think I'm always right, and worse, to not consider how I come across to others. Perhaps the greatest thing Christ did for the Pharisees was give them a picture of themselves as they really were.

I highly recommend this book; it will revolutionize the way you read the Gospels as well as give you a greater understanding into the life of the apostle Paul. Just don't be surprised if you bump into yourself in its pages!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Let's Go on a Bear Hunt!

So goes a song we often sang with the kids as we bussed them from inner-city Chicago to Hammond for Sunday School.

"Let's go on a bear hunt (repeat)
Okay (repeat) Let's go (repeat)" . . . and so on and so forth until we came to an obstacle. Then,
"Can't go over it (repeat)
Can't go under it (repeat)
Can't go 'round it (repeat)
Gotta go through it."

Don't know why but that song always comes to mind when I read Psalm 18: 29, "With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." In this great psalm, David focuses his attention on the ways God has brought him through many difficult situations.

My tendency when faced with a challenging situation is to run. I manage to do so very intelligently, so that even I am convinced that I had no other alternative but to change jobs, quit that church commitment, etc. Only in recent years have I realized this is more than a once-in-a-lifetime battleground decision; it's a repetitive habit engrained in my character. Part of this stems from the fact that I am by nature a peace-loving individual and detest any sort of conflict, without or within.

Recently I changed positions at my company, and for once I feel like I was making a wise decision, based on principle. But I wasn't in the new job two months before I felt those same old feelings stalking me. "Quit. Run. Look for another job," they whispered in my ear. For the first time though, I recognized those feelings for what they were. And God brought to mind David's experiences in Psalm 18, where with God's help, David faced difficult situations head-on. It's been an amazing revelation to learn that pressing on and working through a situation actually requires less energy than orchestrating a retreat. No excuses, persuasion or mental convincing is required. All God really needs is acknowledgement on my part of my frustration and inability to go it alone and a complete abandonment of the problem to his omniscient care and guidance.

I guess this isn't very blogful. I should be commenting on the debates perhaps (excuse me while I gag) or checking out Friday's Feast (yum)! But since this is my blog, tonight I just want to thank God for His faithfulness to me and for the new and wonderful things He's teaching me day by day.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Friday Feast and then some!

What are your plans for the upcoming weekend? Barry Manilow concert tonight :) and I really need to catch up on house stuff this weekend. Birthday party tomorrow too.

Who was the last person you talked to on the telephone? A customer! Some really funny ones today

Name a hobby that you've tried but eventually gave up for some reason. Crocheting. I think I love it for the nostalgia (my gram was a passionate crocheteer (is that a word?), but it bothers my hands too much. I started an afghan for our gameroom but glad I never finished it because we ended up changing our whole color scheme down there.

Main Course
What is the most important personality quality in a mate? WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). I love that my husband can be himself with me and likewise I can be myself with him. No pretense, no games. So refreshing - that's how I knew he was the one.

Why is the sky blue (be creative with your answer)? I have no idea. No time to think about it either. I'm just glad it's not yellow or green or orange. Maybe that's why it's blue - blue is not as hard on the eyes!

So happy it's Friday!

Sat. am: Barry was his usual great self. I take a lot of teasing for being a fan of his, but it's just great music and the stuff I grew up on.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Stop The Madness!

Since I took this new position in Customer Service, most days I've been at work by 8:00 am and am there well after 6:00pm. Most of the girls work 4-10 hour days, but I can't seem to see my way clear to switch to the 4-10 schedule. But I end up working 5-10 hour days it seems! Something's gotta give. It's really not bad - a different kind of stress. A few more months and I should have the hang of things. Again, I thank God for His amazing goodness in blessing me with a sweet Christian girl for a partner. (We're all on teams). Were it not for traffic doubling my commute time, I'd say I really enjoy working for once!

Anyways, I forwarded a tracking number to myself at home and here I am, checking on the status of an express shipment that has to arrive at the customer's site by 6am. It's in Grove City, PA right now. I wonder how I'll sleep tonight?!

The Long Dark Tunnel

For some reason at this time of year, I fight the feeling that I'm going into a long dark tunnel. I can't see the end and the walls are closing in around me. It makes no sense because autumn is my favorite time of year. But when the days get shorter, and Mike starts back to school, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed by the thought of short days and long cold nights. I think once I recognized this tendency, it helped. I do try to relax more and not put so much pressure on myself about the state of my house, and other things. I can't say I actually struggle with depression but I feel for those who are do. No doubt there are more people struggling with the same feelings than I probably realize.

That's why I have to laugh at church sometimes. It's easy to smile my way through the crowds, nodding and offering neatly packaged greetings. It takes time to stop and find out how someone is really doing.

And even then, how many people can be totally honest with each other? Why do we have to appear perfect in the place God intended to be a repair station? If we're all really just works in progress, why do we strive to put on a mask of completion? I think it's okay, even for a leader, to say they had a rough day. The other night someone told me they told a group of leaders they oversee to just tell their followers things are "incredible" - never let them see any chinks, so to speak. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. I just think it's okay to be human at church.

Well that brings to mind another topic I hope to post on soon: Control freaks. More on that later.

As for the negative start to this post, I must say that day by day, God is teaching me how to overcome my rough days and I don't have near the feeling of dread I usually experience this time of year. But if some of those feelings can help me identify with a fellow Christian, then I can even thank God for these times.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Friday Feast

I've been wanting to do this and couldn't understand why I never got notified when I signed up on the list. Hmmm, and who is Susan? Unidentified emails - DELETE! Oops - that was Friday Feast I've been trashing! Thanks to Friday's Feast for the fun!

I wish my (cell) phone would just make a normal ringing sound! The ring tones (no matter what I choose) on the Samsung phone blend in with whatever music I'm listening to in the car and I keep missing calls.

A bright sunny day, a few clouds in the sky - no rain in sight.

Hmmm. Microsoft Word? English grammar & punctuation. Nothing of real value!

Main Course
Acts and the epistles of Paul. Shakespeare - I'm extremely deficient there.

Gobs of peanut butter. Pretty much like a Reese's cup!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

My Soul, Wait Thou Only Upon God

. . . for my expectation is from Him. I believe that's Psalm 62:5.

I just love my dog. I sit down with a bowl of cereal and here he is, waiting expectantly for me to toss him a flake or two. This has become a morning ritual with us that now occurs anytime he hears the rattling of the cereal box. I just can't resist his pleading look, and frankly I love when he begs! He puts his little paws up on my leg and looks at me with those big sad Boston Terrier eyes and just waits. He knows I'll come through for him.

I just wonder if I wait with such anticipation for God? So many times I drag myself into the worship service on Sundays and several songs are sung before I feel mentally present in the service. Sometimes when I read my Bible, I feel like I'm just going through the motions - although lately I've been trying to slow down and sometimes read the same chapter several days in row. But do I come to the table of God's richest bounty expecting to meet with God? Or am I on auto-pilot, there but not really?

Today I think I prayed expectantly for once at work. A wave of negative "IHTJ*" feelings were threatening to suck me under and I actually stopped and just prayed. I didn't think about praying (I tend to do that a lot). I really prayed. I just told God I'm desperate. I can't keep going like this - long stressful days and an attitude on top of everything.

I'm not sure, but I think He smiled down upon me. I'm pretty sure the warmth I felt was His face shining upon me. He was with me, I just know it.

*IHTJ - I Hate This Job! When things get really bad, I type a page of this to myself. IHTJ! IHTJ! IHTJ! IHTJ! IHTJ! After 100 or so lines of this, I usually begin to realize how silly and futile this is and get back to work.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Monday Madness

I always see this on another blog but it's usually Tuesday before I remember to do it.

1. Pet Peeves: my own forgetfulness; towels, sheets, bedspreads, not perfectly straightened; people passing the buck or blaming other people for stuff at work,

2. Favorite Sounds: locusts and crickets on a summer night, my husband calling me one of his nicknames for me

3. Desk Items: Uniball pens (red, pink, green or blue) and Bic disposable mechanical pencils, my CD player at work broke and I really need to replace it soon

4. Biggest Fears: something happening to my dad

5. Biggest Challenges: consistency in my devotions and prayer life, exercising

6. Newest 'Toys': hmmm, nothing really at the moment

7. Most Used Words: no way, hey

8. Most Mispelled Words: judgment

9. Favorite Disney Characters: Tigger & Pooh (before they were Disney)

10. Bookmarks on Your Homepage: online banking, dream vacation spots, writing sites, several blogs

A Day to Remember

Yesterday was one of those once in a lifetime simply spectacular days. After church, I went out to lunch with my parents, then hightailed it "home" to their house in the country. Read the paper and watched some football with Dad before we both nodded off for a much needed nap. Then my sister arrived with her four munchkins in tow, well - make that three munchkins and one mini-munch, as the baby is just seven months old.

My sister and I and the three oldest (7, 5-3/4, and 3) headed out for a walk down the old country road. What makes it a country road? Well, in over an hour, just two cars passed us on the crumbly old red dog road. Donkeys came up to greet us and cows stared at us from down in the pasture. This is the same road responsible for my sister and I losing every single candy bar sales contest while we were in school. When there's only six houses along a one-mile stretch of road, and most of the inhabitants no longer possess teeth with which to enjoy chocolate bars, it doesn't make for the best sales territory. Only Halloween was less profitable!

The kids were hoping to see a few sheep at the first neighboring farm. In our day, it was occupied by an elderly couple and "young Dave," their bachelor son in his seventies. We would dread being sent down there to buy eggs, as we were sure to be engaged in an hour of conversation by the old folk. An hour of conversation is one thing; an hour of the same conversation everytime ("what's your name, honey?) can be comical to eleven and twelve year olds more anxious in fishing for crawdads and minnows in the creek.

But yesterday we were greeted at the old farm first by Mack, a delightful yellow Lab, and then his owner, a gracious man in his late forties with growing kids of his own. He invited us up to see his new puppy, and then got some crackers for the kids to feed the fish in his fishpond. We stood and talked for half an hour while the kids enjoyed the dogs and fish. Then we headed back for home, stopping with my niece to pick wildflowers by the side of the road, while the boys gathered treasures of their own liking - what's a boy without a stick or rock in his pocket? As we watched the kids skipping ahead of us, my sister and I held hands and just savored the moment together in silence. I can't say for her, but seeing her kids delight in the same things we'd enjoyed as children almost made me forget I'm turning forty this year. I even had to remind my sister of that strange but true fact.

The day wasn't complete until the kiddos had their PJs on and snuggled on the couch to listen to Mee-maw read "Mother's Glasses," a favorite poem by Edgar A. Guest which reminds us all of our beloved Gram.

A day like yesterday makes getting up for work on Monday a little tougher and I'm behind on my laundry now of course, but sometimes it's good to just put aside the have-to's and indulge in some want-to's!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Find Me Another Angle on That!

I hate - well, strongly dislike - the news media. My husband gets ticked when I watch it with him as I always have some smart comment to offer. For instance, I'm sure when many reporters wake up the day after a tragedy strikes, they draw their hand across their brow and sign in relief, "Thank goodness, I have a job for another day!" I'm serious - I really think these people live for problems to report. Well, they do! Is that jubilation I hear in their voices as they recount the number of homes lost, people killed or what have you - or is it just my imagination?

This morning I had the TV on for my father-in-law as he was coming to sit at our house while the carpet installers were working. TV in the morning is a big no-no with me! But I happened to catch a snippet of a morning show where someone is exploring the side effects of depression brought on by open heart surgery. The story was inspired by Bill Clinton's recent heart surgery. I just shook my head in disbelief! And will we be privy to any effect on Bill & Hillary's love life as well?

But later it occurred to me . . . if only I would dig into the Bible like news reporters dig for news. I'm not talking about stretching a parable into an unbiblical allegory, or taking the Scripture out of context. I don't mean replacing what the Bible says with my own assumptions. But what if I started exploring more as I read? Asking more questions and expecting more answers? Even today as I thought about my reading in Acts, I put myself in the shoes of the friends and neighbors of Tabitha, raised from the dead by Peter. I know that story so well I just tend to skip over it. What was it like to there? Why were they mourning so? And what wonderful rejoicing there must have been when she was restored to life. What difference did that make in her life? The story takes on new meaning when I take some time to think about it.

I'm still not a fan of the news media for the most part, but I could stand to copy some of their investigative techniques. The people in the Bible were every bit as mortal as we are and the Scriptures are as applicable to my life to day as they were back then.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Should I or Shouldn't I

I'm just rambling here but tonight at church I was thrilled when one of my former Pioneer girls (now 7th grade) asked me to think about being her small group leader. I love that age group and honestly, have been praying about an opportunity to work with teens again. Part of me says no, I'm already busy enough. But I still manage to fit several hours of TV in each week. Mike has school Thursdays and I'm at church Wednesdays. I don't think it would kill me to get together with these girls once a week for an hour. Would it? It seems like an answer to one of those unspoken prayers so why do I think I need to pray about it some more?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Trite Platitudes & Heretical Questions

I just shook my head the other day when checking another board I post on. A member had lost a beloved pet, and intending to comfort her, another member (a Christian) said "Well, everything happens for a reason." Then someone at church said to me on Sunday (after hearing our carpet was ruined by flooding), "Well, God must have had His hand on you; it could have been much worse."

I just don't know if I can take those statements at face value. Does every single thing that happens have a God-ordained purpose in my life? Was God's hand not on the person who lost everything?

I guess there's a fine line between believing in the sovereignty of God and blaming everything on Him. This has been on my mind for a few days now. I know that what I believe doesn't really make a bit of difference, so I turned to Romans 8, home of the famous "all things work together" verse. I found the NIV to be enlightening: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." What a difference from the KJV which simply says "all things work together." As if by some mysterious force, all things eventually intertwine themselves in such a way as to ultimately benefit me.

But does God actually preordain every single event in my life? Why did some people lose their houses this past weekend in the Pittsburgh floods, while others escaped with little or no damage? Was God's hand on us in that our home was not completely destroyed? Or just partially, since our new carpet was ruined? Is God responsible for everything that happens, good and bad?

To say He simply set the world in place and can only intervene would limit His sovereignty. But couldn't such an almighty, sovereign God create a world that could hold together without His constant intervention? Didn't He create the earth to operate so that it maintains its unique climate? Doesn't the amazing human body perform more functions, unbeknownst to most, in one day than many people do on their jobs?

I guess my answer to these questions, from what I can tell from Scripture, is that God can work anyway He wants to. I don't believe that every bad thing is from His hand. But He is sovereign over all things. I can believe He is working in all things. Most importantly, He is working in my life to bring about HIS good . . . His perfect plan and purpose. But since I have only the slightest idea what the complete picture looks like, it is left to me to simply trust Him day by day.

Well, I'd say God got a lot of mileage out of these floods, if nothing else but to help solidify my belief in His sovereignty!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

He's Talking About Us!!!

We went to Seinfeld with a few other couples last night. It was a pretty good show, although I didn't care for the guy who opened. One of the things he harped on was the way people are addicted to the news, cell phones, and Internet - often doing all three at the same time. As soon as we got out of there, half of us flipped on our cell phones! Just a few minutes before I was laughing at those ridiculous people who carry their phones into restroom stalls, and yet here I was, not out of the hall 10 minutes, flipping my phone on.

I guess it's good that we can laugh at ourselves. We needed to do that last night. We got home to find our gameroom flooded. Yep, that beautiful three year gameroom project - the one we only got to use for three nights so far. Of course we don't have flood insurance - not many people do where I live. They called this kind of rain a "Hundred Year event." So we spent the day tearing up the carpet, ripping the pad out and borrowing fans in hopes of drying the carpet before it molds. Yuck.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Why Do I Blog?

Laziness.  Pure laziness.  I love the ease and simplicity of writing an email and having it appear on my blog with no HTML coding or other effort required on my part - Voila! I wish I had the time to learn HTML and other web stuff but if I did, I'd probably be wasting a lot more time than I already do!

I just checked the stupid site meter for my blog and I see I had one whole visitor last week!  Wow!  (I don't even know why I signed up for that thing except that I like to try out free gimmicks).  But that's okay, because I'm really not doing this for anyone but me.  I like the accountability of blogging though.  The potential for someone else to read this keeps me accountable in what I write and how I say it.  I guess there is a place for brain dumps, but I don't want to get in the habit of just spilling out all my negative frustrations.  That's why I choose to blog rather than just keep a private journal.

There's a downside to blogging though.  A few of them in fact.  One is the temptation to waste a lot of time reading other people's blogs.  The other is when a blog site I read regularly just vanishes.  Maybe it's human nature, or maybe it has to do with being a Christian but there's a tendency to "meet" people in cyberspace and bond with them.  So it's kind of sad when someone just quits blogging with little or no notice.  The cyber world provides the means to keep people at arm's length - much like many churches today, where we can go and smile and look like everything's alright while inside we're being torn apart.  I guess it's just the nature of the beast but I hate it!  Anyways, one of my favorite bloggers just disappeared - hope she reads this and knows she's in my prayers!


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Andrus the Painter

I met the most amazing little man in the little town of Manteo on Roanoke Island the other day. I stopped in his art gallery and was admiring his work when I saw him in the back and we started talking. He does some of the most beautiful watercolor I've ever seen - very controlled and precise. Most of his paintings are of beaches and nautical scenes. Of course it stirred up in me a desire to paint again.

Anyways, while we were talking he said something that stuck with me. He said everyone has a reality and a fantasy, and that most people live in their fantasy world. I think that describes me perfectly. I'm a wannabe . . . a dabbler. I can picture myself writing and painting but I probably never will. One day Andrus decided to make a go at painting for a living. He worked at his craft until he got where he wanted to be. That's the difference between me and Andrus. I can picture where I'd like to be. Home most days. Writing several hours a day. Painting and drawing again. But I'm too lazy, too undisciplined to bridge the gap between the here and there. Too many excuses. At least now though, I know why I'll never get "there." Maybe someday I'll finally settle down and put some action to my dreams. I know, I am writing - here a bit, there a bit. But not seriously. I'm just not consciously doing what it takes right now.

Our week at the beach has come to any end and I am glad for once to see it end. I'm anxious to get home, back to routine. I'm looking forward to enjoying our gameroom - the furniture came the morning we left for vacation so our housesitter has gotten more use of it than us at this point! I love fall too. I look forward to walks in the park, falling leaves and warm soups with homemade bread.

Mike's classes resumed last week. He only has class one night a week this fall, so I'll need to plan well to use that evening wisely. He'll be taking over the desktop and I'll be banished to the laptop - not really a bad thing as long as I remember to back everything up! I am looking forward to getting back to writing, even if it's just my assignments for the writing course.

Well, one more early morning to myself remains. I think I'll sneak out to the coffee shop in Duck again tomorrow!

Monday, September 06, 2004


That's all I have to say when I write a post and it's eaten by Blogger! Stink! Oh well! Whenever that happens, I just assume maybe I wasn't supposed to say something. Maybe I'll gather my thoughts and post again later!

More vacation perks:

No alarm clocks
Endless supply of good coffee (although Nag's Head is not known for its coffee shops, we brought a good supply with us)
Early morning walks

Educational Politics

I always wonder why politicians, especially those campaigning for the highest position in the country, don't use the campaign trail as an opportunity to educate their constituents. For example, it grates me when I hear someone promise to "create new jobs." My goodness, I can remember my eleventh grade economics teacher pounding it into our heads that it's impossible to create jobs. Jobs mean business and business requires capital and that has to come from somewhere. It seems like so many Americans, liberal and conservative alike, are content to just sit and be spoonfed all their political beliefs after they've been regurgitated by the media.

It's hard to think right now because the noise of family opinions is rising above the constant drone of Fox News and C-Span (depending on who controls the remote), but I can't complain - it's a break from the Weather Channel and Hurricane Francis and Ivan riding on his coattails!

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Good Vacation Reads

Work has been so busy this is my first chance to post in a while. I kind of missed it! I couldn't wait to get on the Internet today and check out a few of my favorite blogs.

I look forward to vacation all year long for just one thing - the ability to read relatively uninterrupted for hours on end! This year I brought 4-5 books and about 10 magazines. I start saving my subscriptions in July so I have lots of fresh magazines for the trip. This year I'm reading two great books and coincidentally, they kind of complement each other. I started Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur on the trip down yesterday and finished it in tears out on the deck this morning. I first learned of this book over at the JollyBlogger's site, where he has an excellent review of the book. In short, Wisdom Hunter is the story of a disillusioned fundamentalist pastor, whose life is turned upside down after the death of his daughter and wife. The tragedy causes Jason Faircloth to realize that much is amiss in his relationship with God, in spite of his reputation as a leader in his denomination. His journey in search of the granddaughter he never met leads him to scrap everything he ever believed, and he begins building his life from the bottom up with a fresh perspective on God's word. My favorite parts of the book were the Wisdom Book entries, where Jason stops to record some of his observations about the Christian life. This is a book for anyone struggling with the stifling "packaged Christianity" of legalistic denominations who longs to get back to the basics of a relationship with Christ.

The other book I'm reading is Extreme Righteousness by Tom Hovestol. Admittedly, I started this book expecting (and hoping) the legalistic leaders of my fundamentalist past to be cast in the role of the notorious Pharisees. So I was surprised when the author first endeavors to explain the background of this religious group, and then lists their positive qualities. This book, being a non-fiction, is taking me a little longer to plod through, but already I am beginning to see myself in the Pharisees. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun, and human nature is still human nature, subject to the same sinful attitudes and spiritual blindness, even two thousand years after the time of Christ. If God gave these religious characters such a prominent place in the Gospel account, perhaps it is because there is a little bit of Pharisee in each of us. I need to cast aside the negative caricature I commonly associate with them and see what God would have me to learn from this most interesting group of people.

Ah, vacation! I'm loving it!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A Thing and A Thing and A Thing!

The last few weeks have been busy around here. On top of a heavy workload right now, planning for vacation, and thinking about Pioneer Clubs starting up again soon at church, Mike and I have spent a lot of time putting the finishing touches on our basement project, hereafter to be known as the gameroom! I was feeling the crunch today as I sat at work (yes, my department had to work both Saturday and Sunday) and thought about all I need to do before we leave for vacation Friday.

Where did the time go? I got to thinking about how much of my life is consumed by "stuff." First you start thinking about stuff - you know, poring over the ads section of the Sunday paper. Then the planning starts - how much can we afford, how can we justify this, where would we put it? Next comes the shopping stage - wood grain or black, white or off-white paint, Berber or plush carpet . . . and then on to the big stuff - TV, stereo, etc. Then there's the installation - making room for things and putting it all together. At some point, we may even sit down and actually enjoy all the "stuff" for a bit, but before long, maintenance kicks in!

I feel like we made modest choices and we've been saving for three years to complete this project. We are looking forward to being able to entertain family and friends now - the finished GAMEROOM adds some much needed room to our 2-bedroom house! Nevertheless, it's a fact that "stuff" is time consuming. It gets to be amusing when you find yourself shopping for stuff to put your stuff in, dumping stuff that was at one time such a must-have at Goodwill, etc. One good thing about a small house and being slightly claustrophobic is a natural aversion to too much "stuff." Yet I'm still plagued with an ungodly desire for, and a pursuit of "stuff."

I'm convinced the only solution is a change of attitude. Since I won't be taking any of this stuff with me to heaven (what my dog or cat don't ruin first), it makes sense to focus my time and effort on what God values - people. I notice when I'm happiest when I'm thinking about others. That said, I plan to stay away from the new Walmart in town

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

Magic Tricks

We've been studying John in our adult Bible class at church and today we came to the story of Lazarus. When Jesus sends the messenger back to the sisters with promise that Lazarus would live, most likely what they heard was "Lazarus will not die." This message probably came after Lazarus had already lay dead several days. Was their faith misplaced? Was Jesus just a man after all?

It's so easy to read this story from our clued-in point of view. We know what's going to happen. Reminds me of a little kid trying to impress some adults with a magic trick. Of course we know how the trick is done, and that it's only a trick and nothing more. Quarters cannot be produced from ears anymore than rabbits can be pulled out of hats. And yet, don't we often find ourselves slightly convinced, even for a second, by slight of hand, especially if the trick is done well enough?

Isn't that how it is with us as Christians who possess the word of God and know how the story ends? We know Jesus waited purposely for a few days before returning to Bethany. We know Lazarus' death was part of His eternal plan, and that He intended to restore Lazarus to life. We know God's glory was Christ's ultimate purpose. So why, if we know the rest of the story, are we caught off guard today when our faith is being put to the test?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Molded or Morphed?

I've been thinking about Romans 12:1-2 lately, where Paul instructs the Christians in Rome to be transformed, rather than being conformed to this world. The difference between those two words, conformed and transformed, is striking. Without bothering to check out Webster's, I offer the following definitions:

Conformed - molded to or around, made like
Transformed - changed from one thing to another, made new

Conforming is something I can do on my own. I can conform to the expectations others have for me or to the expectations I have for myself. I can adopt the standards and convictions of those around me, so that their lifestyles and attitudes become my own. This verse is probably single-handedly responsible for many of the standards and rules I, along with many other people, were forced to abide by for so many years. I was taught that these rules were in place to keep us from looking like, and conforming to, the world. The only problem was, the very exhortation of "be not conformed to this world," in its execution, resulted in conformation to another system. In refusing to be molded to the image of this world, I wrapped myself around and became comfortable in something equally distant from God's heart; the approval of man.

Transformation implies something happening to me from the inside out. How am I transformed? By the renewing, on an ongoing basis, of my mind. And how is my mind made new? By the of the word of God and the continual working of his Holy Spirit. The more I am being transformed in this way, the less I will be molded to the world. But this transformation is nothing I can bring about in my own power. I haven't the slightest clue how it all works, this miraculous and continual transformation of my life. As I see it, my part is simply to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and immersed in His word.

The results of this transformation are humbling. No one tells me to change the radio station or not rent that movie. No one approves my reading list anymore. I don't have to go through dress checks or turn in Christian activity reports. But my desires are changing day by day. I'm no where near the ultimate goal, that of being like Christ. But like nothing else, I crave His working in my life. I long for my desires to be His desires.

To be molded is easy. It's visible and measurable and brings a feeling of satisfaction. I'd rather be morphed . . . changed . . . transformed. I'm constantly dissatisfied with myself. But that's okay. Ultimately, God wants to be the only source of satisfaction for the desires He puts in my heart. Thankfully, God reminds me that He promises to bring to completion His work in my life. All I need to do is get out of the way.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Got Fillers?

I'm stuck on Section 3 of this writing course I'm taking. Stuck . . . on fillers, of all things! You know, those handy little household hints, clever quips and funny stories. Where are all those little brain children when I need them?

I mentioned to my husband that I was struggling and he came up with one. "Don't pack too much for vacation - there will be stores wherever you go." That must be on his mind, since we promised to take the portable oil-filled radiator on vacation with us for his mother who would otherwise freeze to death. Yes, on a bright warm day in Nag's Head, you'll find my MIL wrapped in a blanket beside her heater. Ah, memories! Isn't that what family vacations are all about?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

What Am I Reading?

I think I'll try to use Sundays as a time to jot down a few words about whatever I'm reading.

I just started Desiring God by John Piper. I planned to save it for vacation, but being warned by a friend that it's a heavy read, I decided to take the plunge last night. It was begging to be read anyways! So far I've only read the introduction and part of Chapter 1, but one thought grabbed my attention immediately. Piper quotes Puritan pastor Matthew Henry, "The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks." Piper goes on to paraphrase Henry by saying, "I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God." Oh, that my longings and desires were continually towards the things of God. I'm looking forward to the rest of this book.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


I often pass several mentally disabled adults on my way to work. Most seem happy enough in their routines, clutching their lunchboxes and carefully crossing the streets as they head to the work center. One woman in particular catches my attention on more than one occasion. She makes her way slowly, almost painfully, down the street in front of the police station, her eyes unable to focus properly, her steps sometimes slowing to a halt. I wonder if she is medicated. Who cares for her?

One day last week as I drove by, I saw her stop then slowly crumple to the ground. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled over into a used car lot and ran back to where she sat on the ground. At the same time, another woman stopped and offered to run to the police station for help, then came back and helped me support the woman who can't seem to decide if she wants to sit or recline. I was certain our friend must be going into diabetic shock, from the way she stares blankly. She gently squeezed my hand in response to my questions and assurances that help is on the way. At least five minutes pass before we see a uniformed officer, ambling leisurely up the road towards the three of us. We're frustrated at his lack of concern and then I notice the woman's eyes as they met the officer's, and her hand waved at him ever so slightly.

"Hi, Charlene," the officer greeted her. "Where's your I.D.? Are you going to work today?"

"You know her? Has this happened before?"

"At least once a week," comes the amused reply.

In a matter of minutes, I was on my way to work again, not quite knowing what to think! But here's a few observations:

  1. Charlene. Her name is Charlene. Everyone has a name and everyone has a story. I can pray for her by name now.
  2. Who knows why Charlene has these spells? Perhaps she just needs a bit of love and attention, any way she can get it.
  3. If I see it happen again, should I stop? What if it's not just a spell some day?
  4. What if it had been something serious and we had not been right in front of a police station? Would I have known what to do? Sheesh, now that I think of it, I didn't even have my cell phone with me as I ran back there.
  5. What would you have done?

Monday, August 09, 2004

"Dear God, Protect Me From Your Followers"

I saw this bumper sticker yesterday and can't get it off my mind. I wanted to wax eloquent about the many ways in which Christ's followers bring shame upon His name (and sadly, there are many). Instead I was convicted to look within my own heart and see whether I have obscured the glory of God in any way today. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

What Do YOU Obsess About?

I have a new position at work, and with that comes the strange situation where my boss, who was more like my coworker for the past year, is now much more really a boss. I get along with her and respect her, but she has this annoying habit of insisting that we do everything the way she does, right down to using keyboard commands vs. the mouse. She comes pretty close to slapping hands some times in an effort to "train" people to do things the "right" (her) way! I was feeling a little perturbed about this last night, until I got to thinking about it.

I was able to laugh about it when I realized she reminds me of Monk, my favorite TV defective detective. I decided when I start to feel aggravated, I'll just remind myself that SHE'S the one with the disorder! Picturing Monk in the storm drain or on top of a dining room table will surely help me chuckle the moment on by.

But then I realized, just like there's a bit of the TV Monk in all of us, there's a bit of the real life boss in most of us. Hmmm, wonder how Mike feels when I can't sleep until his shoes are straight at the foot of the bed, or I'm running late for work because I'm putzing with something stupid. Is it merely just obsession or is it the need for control? I'm not sure, but this little reflection of myself with the same obsessive tendencies is rather humbling. So that's another reason not to let this bother me, but rather look into the mirror of God's word and see where He'd have me change.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Ladies' Meeting

"What am I doing here?  I don't like these things."  These were my thoughts as I arrived at the ladies' meeting at church tonight.  I went only because a girl in my adult Bible study class mentioned that the speaker was her grandmother, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, and I simply couldn't resist the opportunity to hear her.  I've always been interested in anything having to do with WWII.

The crowd was larger than expected and the room was hotter than it should have been.  The opening minutes dragged on over a half hour while we fellowshipped and snacked and the microphones were adjusted.  Then Marianne Fisher took her place behind the podium, all five foot of her, dressed in a snappy pastel pink suit and we were transported to Budapest, Hungary during the 1930's. 

For over an hour, she shared her story in a simple, straightforward style and soft Hungarian accent, interspersed with perky bits of humor.  She related the account of her life during the Nazi occupation, the subsequent Communist oppression and her coming to the States, and how at every turn, God showed Himself strong on her behalf.  Her story was amazing, but even more so was her testimony of faith and love for her Messiah.  Here was true faith - pure, simple and unadulterated. 

After the meeting, I hurried up to thank Marianne for sharing her story and was immediately engulfed in the best hug I've had since my dear little gram passed on.  Then she (Marianne) looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You let God use you."  And that's really what it's all about, isn't it?  When I left the church, I knew the answer to my original question.  What was I doing there?  There's no doubt in my mind, I was right where God wanted me tonight.

12:08 am and all's well!

Hubby is sick tonight so I graciously offered to sleep on the couch - I can't afford to catch anything, having just begun my new job at work.  He seemed so appreciative; I almost felt guilty.  It is not at all sacrifice for me . . . for the simple reason I can stay up as late as I like. True, I will pay for this tomorrow as my glazed over eyes stare at my PC and try to make sense of my day.  But tonight - a few minutes to peruse my favorite sites, study my Bible in peace and quiet, and even enjoy an uninterrupted episode of Monk!  I DO hope he feels better tomorrow but as long as circumstances allow me this small pleasure, I'm enjoying it for all it's worth.  Although all I really have to do is say "novel" and he's willing for me to stay up as late as I wish!  (Novel - ha ha!)

A praise - I guess I could say I started my new job today, which is really just different responsibilities carried out in a cubicle instead of an office with a window.  But I'm not complaining!  I looked at my watch and it was 11:30 am, then 2:00 pm and before I realized it, the 5:00 crowd was walking out the door.  Whereas last week I was counting down the minutes until 5:00 rolled around, it was great to be so caught up in my work that time worked itself away. 

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Breathing Room

This is a continuation of my previous post regarding what makes a novel "Christian." I'm aware of plenty other discussions taking place on this topic, so why don't I just chime in on one of those? I guess I like to just explore things for myself first sometimes, and figure out what I really think about things. Not that it matters one teensy bit what I think - in the end, what matters is what Christ thinks.
I've come to the conclusion that the primary Biblical mandate relating to this would be Paul's exhortation to do all we do to the glory of God. At least for me, that must be my ultimate criteria. In the end, does the book, story, article, movie or song glorify God? Does it exalt Him and lift Him up? Does it point to Him? I like to think of a shimmering lake reflecting the sky on its surface. The reflection is merely a picture, but that picture is all one can see when they look at that lake.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't believe everything I write needs to have an overtly Christian message. I can't picture the apostle Paul designing tents with the fish symbol all over them!  Tentmaking was his livelihood, not his ministry.  Yet I'm confident that in his dealings with other tentmakers and customers, he strove to bring glory to God.  I don't think that fiction or the arts, while they have their place, are the primary means God intended to reach the world.  Nothing can take the place of preaching the gospel and Christians sharing their faith with others. What's important in my writing is that nothing detracts from God's message.
So why the title "Breathing Room"?  I guess I just believe, as Christians, we need to allow for differences to exist.  Each person is at a different point in his relationship with God.  It is not for me to judge another's work or standards.  I am accountable to God for my life alone.  I must answer to Him for what I read and also what I write.  I can't answer for anyone else though.  This understanding motivates me to continually be in God's word and allow it to be the standard of measure for anything I write.  It also helps me to read other authors with grace, realizing that they are people just like me, and we're all at different places in our walk with God.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Slice of Life

I generally try not to make this blog just a recounting of my day to day activities, but I'm doing that today just for the heck of it. I suppose a little venting on my own territory is allowed!  I'm moving my office for the 13th time in less than ten years.  This latest move is my own doing - I asked for the job and the move goes with the territory.  If I was smart, I would have left things alone and probably gotten by without moving for a while, but it didn't seem right to be the only customer service representative with an office and I do want to be part of the team. 

Nevertheless, this will be the 2nd move this month and both were done while I was out of the office.  Good thing I am leaving today for a few days.  I do need an attitude adjustment . . . mostly over losing my window!  My coworker and I have a joke; "Everything's temporary," we say.  He has no idea, not being a believer, how true that is, and yet I'm the one struggling to remember that today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What makes a novel Christian?

What makes a novel Christian?  This was the topic today on the Faith In Fiction (http://faithinfiction.blogspot.com) blog.  It's funny because a similar thought has been working its way through my mind lately.  I keep recalling the verse in Acts where it says the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.  It doesn't necessarily say they called themselves Christians.  According to Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), this was the name by which the Greeks or Romans referred to the followers of Christ, probably a degrading term.  From Paul's writings, we know that the disciples called themselves "saints" or "brethren."  The name Christian itself is used only a few times in the New Testament. 

What does this mean to me?  Simply this: I believe my Christianity is more about what others perceive me to be than just what I call myself.  Didn't Paul say we could speak with the most glorious tongues and without love, be absolutely nothing?  So what if I do call myself a Christian?  Does doing so make me His follower? Does it ensure that my actions are Christlike? I tend to think not.  I would rather be called a Christian by the unbelievers with whom I cross paths daily than to assume the name myself and not be what I should be.  I hope that, and fear it's less often the case than I'd like, when others look at my life, they see Christ.  In the words I speak . . . and don't speak.  In my actions and in my attitudes.  In short, I don't want to simply proclaim myself a Christian; I want my life to proclaim Christ.  I fall short but like Paul, I press toward the mark and when I fall, I'm reminded that even in my failures He can be glorified.
So what would constitute a "Christian" novel, or play or movie or any other form of media?  I'm still thinking on this one . . . I think I'll save this one for another post.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Blah, blah, blogging!

Blogging is just such a funny word to me.  It actually sounds like an utterance one might make when throwing up.  And to be honest, sometimes I'm afraid that my blog is little more than that - barf!
Besides the sound of the word, the world of bloggers is a funny one.  For the past two nights, I've taken some time to view the profiles of a few bloggers with "Jesus Christ," "Bible study," or "Christianity" in their profiles.  There's this whole cyber-community of Christians out there, blogging their hearts out.  In a way, it was a neat discovery to find so many committed Christian thinkers who take time out to share their voices on the 'net.  It's kind of odd too, how they all link to one another.  I guess leaving comments on someone else's blog invites them to visit yours and voila!  You're linked!  I must confess I was wondering about the whole purpose of blogging.  I mean, besides the ease of use, if no one else reads my blog, what's the use of keeping one?  Except I find it rather cathartic in a way.  Sometimes my thoughts just bang around inside my head until it hurts, and spilling them out offers a bit of relief and forces me to focus on one and follow it through.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

When Less is More

Less is more when it means I have less to keep track of and keep clean.

Less is more when I stop to appreciate everything I have.

Less is more when it allows me time to enjoy the simple things in life. 

Less (time) is more when I remember that work expands to the time allotted.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Thought for the Day: Contentment

"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have."

(Source unknown)

Thursday, July 08, 2004

My So-called Simple Life

This year I made one of those dastardly resolutions. I proclaimed to anyone who cared to listen, "(Read my lips!) This year I'm going to simplify my life."

That was January. For about two months, I purposed to enjoy quiet peaceful evenings at home. I spurned invitations for coffee and shopping and cut back on trips to the bookstore. I wrote. I read. I wrote reviews on books I read, and even tried limiting myself to one book at a time. I was available to offer my husband help and opinions as he hibernated in the gameroom, finishing up a three-year remodeling project. Other than that, I did little but assess my solitude and assume I was achieving my dream of a simple life.

This is July. I'm attending writers' group at my church twice a month. I signed up for a Writer's Digest writing course. I visit the library at least every other week and having approximately 6 books going right now (reading, that is!) I agreed to help with girls' club at church again in the fall. Always a sucker for anything free, I signed up for a Barne's & Noble University course, Writing for Children, and just today I received the materials for starting a reading group based on Nicholas Spark's The Notebook (free, of course!)

You want to go for coffee? I'm there! Visit Borders or shop? Sure, why not? Simple was BORING!

What happened? Did I blow it again? Well, for one thing, I guess if I make the rules, I can break them, right? But really, I think I have somewhat succeeded in simplifying my life. I feel more focused now. I think I know what's important to me: my walk with Christ, my family and relationships, my health and writing. I do try to make sure every endeavor supports one of those priorities. Now my challenge is finding the balance between them all.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Pizza: Crust First!

I have never seen anyone eat pizza like my husband does. His first order of business is always the same: remove crust and eat that first. His reasoning is simple; he eats the part he likes the least first.

Recently I've been frustrated with my lack of discipline when it comes to balancing household chores and other tasks. Weekends and evenings seem to fly by and all too often I wake up realizing that I failed to accomplish the most basic necessities. Clean laundry jeers at me from a five-day old pile and reminds me I'll need to iron everything I let sit and wrinkle. Dust beckons me to write myself little notes on the coffee table; dirty dishes in the sink confirm my feelings that I am, at nearly forty years of age, about as disciplined as my five-year-old nephew.

Somewhere lately I picked up a little mantra and have been reciting it to myself. "Can-do, must-do, should-do, want-to." It's just a reminder that each day brings many opportunities and tasks, some which I must accomplish, others I should do if I get around to them. Lastly are the things I want to do. Prioritizing my time in this manner has really helped. When I do sit down to read, write or take a walk in the evenings, I do so without these must-do tasks hanging over my head and thus, I enjoy my leisure time much more.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Setting Up a Memorial

When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan river, God commanded them to set up a number of stones there by the river bed. Anticipating their questions, God told them these stones would be for a memorial. They would always be able to look back and recall what God had done for them. Furthermore, the stones were sure to trigger questions from the children in years to come, thus prompting the parents to relate God's wonderful works to their children, and preserve their history from generation to generation.

My husband and I are nearing completion of a three year basement project. I'll be honest, there were many moments of frustration over the past few years, as I stumbled over all manner of debris (aka tools) just to do laundry or retrieve something from the pantry. At times, I was sure we'd never finish. I allowed the messy basement to exxagerate itself in my mind, so that it represented all of the projects needing attention around the house. At some point late last year though, I realized this negativity was dominating my entire attitude and God in his graciousness taught me a bit about hope and patience.

As we lay in bed the other night, my husband and I recounted all the efforts involved in this project and how pleased we are with the results. We also agreed we'd learned much through the process, especially about each other. Then I reminded him of the stones by the River Jordan, and we both agreed this completed project will be a reminder in the future of God's goodness and blessings to us.

Friday, July 02, 2004

An "ah-ha" Moment!

Every so often, I get to wondering that question of all questions: what is my purpose in life? I'm not really asking does my life have meaning, because I know in Christ, it does. But rather, is what I'm doing meaningful? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? The other day, it dawned on me, much like the woman who looks all over her house for her eyeglasses, only to realize they're perched on her head, or worse, right on her nose! I've been kind of like the guy who is always thinking about his next meal, rather than enjoying what's in front of him. Maybe God's purpose is just for me to glorify Him in what I'm doing now. As a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, employee, Pioneer Club leader, writer, neighbor - I just need to be all those things to the glory of God. And sheesh - I already have a plateful! Why should I be looking anywhere else? If God wants me to do something else, I'm sure He will bring it my way.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

8 Simple Rules . . . for Myself

I really liked that show "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter" when John Ritter was on it. Anyways, I've been kicking around a few "rules" for myself:

1.  No reading any writing sites, boards or blogs until I have written something that day. No writee - no readee!

2. With the exception of books on writing, I will write a short review or summary of every book I read.

3. When I sit down to write, no jumping on the Internet until I've written at least 250 words. Come on, piece of cake!

4. I need to bite the bullet and start sending out a few query letters. No pressure, here!

5. I love blogging but my first priority must still be spending time in God's word.

6. As assuredly as there will always be laundry to wash and grass to cut, there will be more good writing websites out there than I need. So I need to pick a few that are most helpful to me, and not allow myself to waste valuable time revisiting the same old sites.  My picks: http://www.writersdigest.com, http://www.spiritledwriter.com/, and http://www.writing-world.com/.

7. Likewise, I need to find one helpful writer's board and abandon the others for a while.

8. Don't title blog entries with a number unless I'm certain I have that many points to make!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Cooking and Writing

Wow, I've been finding a lot of time to write lately and I made a discovery. I enjoy it! Since I decided to focus on learning the craft, instead of making money, I'm amazed at how relaxing it can be. It's kind of like cooking where I feel totally in control and not at all intimidated. I love experimenting with new recipes. I don't usually follow recipes to a "T"; instead I just get ideas and wing it. But there's a sense of satisfaction when the flavors marry nicely and my concoctions come out tasting great. Surprisingly, when they flop, I don't mind it at all. It doesn't depress me - I just take it as a challenge to make it work the next time. What usually frustrates me is when my creations fail due to lack of planning on my part.

I'm finding that writing brings the same kind of satisfaction. I still lean towards non-fiction, but it's fun to experiment with point of view and characterization in fiction. Things don't always turn out perfectly the first time and that's okay with me. They're just words, so back to the drawing board we go.

I feel like I'm on the right track, focused on laying a good foundation, so when I do start submitting pieces for publication, and querying editors with my ideas, I'll be more confident in my ability to produce. Along the way, I'm asking and answering important questions of myself, clarifying for myself what I believe. It's like I used to tell my dorm girls: get the heart right and the rest will follow.

A Wish for Words

For once I'm not wishing for words to write. I'm wishing for words to speak. I just sat and listened for a good fifteen minutes to several co-workers in the office next to me, railing on Bush, Republicans, conservatives and everything else they hate about our country. I wish I was more articulate when it comes to politics, but I just find it hard to express what I believe to be right.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Here a Penny, There a Penny

I"m always finding money. Sometimes its a $20 bill in the pocket of the jeans I packed away at the end of last summer. Other times I'll find a buck or two in an old purse I haven't used for months. And then there's always the change in my husband's pockets that ends up in the laundry. More often than not though, my monetary finds are just pennies I come across while walking through a parking lot. Some would laugh at me but I always pick them up. Money is money, no matter the denomination.

Would to God I had that same approach to His word. Sometimes I'm on the lookout for that big smacks-me-between-the eyes truth, and I skip over the "little" exhortations. I'm looking for that big beam of light cast out from the lighthouse, when right in front of me is just enough light on the path illuminating my next step.


Monday, June 28, 2004

That Bushel Thing

So I'm trying to decide how to spend this coming Friday. I love it when I'm off and Mike has to work. That sounds mean but the honest truth is I get so much done on those days. And usually it's something that benefits Mike. Anyhow, I'm wavering between hiring a couple kids to help me clean the garage or ask my dad to come help me paint the hallway going to the gameroom. Both need done and neither are jobs I'm up to tackling myself.

I have pretty much decided to go with the garage thing at this point. Last night I was thinking about calling a friend from church and seeing if her two young teens might like to make a few bucks. For some reason though, the face of the teen girl across the street popped into my mind. "But Lord, I don't know her." It occurred to me how many occasions I pass up simply because my tendency is to look within the church family for all my needs, instead of looking outside the body of Christ for opportunities. It's that bushel thing.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Scoping the Neighborhood

Lately I've came across a few weblogs of Christian authors, as well as some "Christian" discussion boards and websites and doing so caused me to question some of my my writing goals. What is my responsibility as a Christian writer? It seems pretty clear cut in the non-fiction realm. It's the fiction that gets me and where there seems to be the most debate. How does one handle sin and other negative elements? Is it right to bare all, down to the nitty gritty ugly details, just because it's the way things are?

Some criticize Christian fiction because it's a little too perfect and neat, but isn't there something to be said for holding up an ideal? I don't want to read about perfect people; I want to read about real people with real problems. And yet, I don't exactly want to be dragged down into the negative depths when I read. I want to see characters learn and grow and change for the better. I don't have all the answers right now, but these are some questions playing havoc in my mind these days.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Making Lemonade

So I made a really big mistake at work today. So bad I wanted to hide under my desk all day. And as is typical, I worried about it all evening. But on my way home, it occurred to me this may be the answer to my prayers about my job. Perhaps it can be the catalyst for change. I still don't feel great about it but I feel a bit better knowing God is indeed in control and can work all things for His good purposes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Constant Corrections

Seems to me one key to making progress in life is learning to make constant corrections. By corrections, I mean adjustments. Have you ever taken your hands off the steering wheel while driving? Giver yourself about 10 seconds before you're forced to jerk the wheel and maneuver back into your lane. Good drivers make those constant adjustments and I'm finding those constant corrections are needed in my life on a regular basis.

Identity Crisis

No, I'm not having an identity crisis but I could be. After all, I have no less than a dozen log-in names for the different software programs and forums I use, not to mention as many passwords. When I ran out of variations on my name, I started using my dog's name and he has just as many nicknames, etc. I can get quite confusing.

Most of these screen names and logins are necessary for my own security on the Internet. No matter what login name I use though, I am really just Dianne. I don't want to hide behind an anonymous name so I can say things I'd never really say if I were face to face with people. I am still accountable for every word I speak or write and I try to remember that.

The most important thing though, is not "who am I?" My identity is in Christ. I am nothing without Him. I can't say I don't want to be known - my goal as a writer is to be published. But my ultimate goal is to reflect Christ in every word I speak or write, and in all I do. Paul expressed this desire best in Galatians when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

21 Days

Twenty-one days. That's how long they say it takes to make something a habit. So I've blogged for twenty-one days in a row now. It feels good actually to be consistent at something for once; most of my life consists of false starts. I can think of some other good habits I need to add now, like exercising and more consistent time in God's word.

Monday, June 21, 2004

3 Writing Wishes

Today's blog entry is taken from a Writer's Digest writing prompt: If you were granted 3 writing-related wishes, what would they be?

How fun. Three writing wishes have been granted me. So my first wish would be for direction. Sometimes I feel like I'm on a journey but I keep switching from one mode of transport to another; I really have no clue what I'd like to write. The bit of fiction I've toyed with has been fun, but I don't have enough driving purpose right now to pursue it seriously. Non-fiction comes more easily but a "have-to" feeling hovers over my shoulders when I work on a non-fiction piece. I have to find a market for this; I have to query an editor. It's just that I have so many "have-to's" during the work week, such a feeling takes all the enjoyment out of my writing. So direction would be my first wish.

Second, since these are wishes and wishes are free from the encumbrances of reality, I'd wish for a week of my gram's time. I'd love to sit and talk with her again, and I'd be sure to ask more questions and pay closer attention to her stories. Why would I not wish for a month, a year or even a return to life? Well, I'm a pretty realistic person, even when wishing. But even if wishes could come true, I know she's happier now in heaven and I wouldn't take that from her. No, just a week would be great!

My last wish? A simple, most feasible one. I wish my hands didn't hurt me so much. If they didn't, I'd probably take the time and think of something better for my third wish. As it is, this is all I can muster for tonight.

A Tribute to My Dad

I understand that writers for the card markets must strive to produce sentiments with general, widespread appeal. So the card I bought my dad said some true things, something about him being thoughtful and giving. It was a pretty card, and even though he turned it over immediately to check the price, I know he appreciated it. But the words weren't really my words, from my heart, written just for my dad. So on the eve before Father's Day, I began to pen some thoughts especially for my dad.

MY dad. I could fill a book with all the memories we share and all the reasons why I love him. But Michael Reagan expressed at his dad's interment service what I feel today. He said the greatest gift his dad gave him was the assurance they'd meet again in heaven someday. Almost ten years ago, my dad gave me that same gift when he put his trust in Christ as Savior. I was reminded of that blessing bestowed upon the both of us as I heard my dad volunteer to read the scripture in Sunday School class today. A few tears crept into the corner of my eye and a familiar lump came to my throat as I thanked my heavenly Father once again for this greatest of all blessings.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Circle of Life

I imagine that pioneering Americans making the greak trek westward looked forward to evenings around the campfire. Once their wagons were circled, their evenings were spent tending the sick, preparing food, and planning for the next day, snatching moments of relaxation when they could. Foremost in their minds was survival; surviving the nights with lookouts posted to defend against Indian attacks, surviving the trip without succumbing to disease or the elements. Their ultimate goal - settling down in a new home in a new territory and a return to life as they knew it, with opportunities to improve their lives. Every generation since has made an intimate friend of progress, until today we are consumed with pursuit of convenience.

These thoughts occurred to me this evening as I sat with my family around a bonfire in our backyard. The evening air was chilly and the fire was cozy and relaxing. With every possible modern convenience available to us - electricity for evening lighting, warm homes, and every kind of prepared food you can imagine - we had chosen instead to return to the outdoors and enjoy each other's company in simplicity. There we were, roasting marshmallows and drawing nearer to the fire to keep warm. We've come full circle.

In a larger sense, I believe the world will eventually come full circle as a society, until one day, every knee will bow and recognize God as Almighty.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Another Beheading

I'm no political analyst but am shocked and disgusted by the beheading of Paul Johnson by Al Quaida in Saudi Arabia. I can't imaging seeing pictures of my dad like that, or even just knowing something like that happened to him. How absolutely heartbreaking. And yet many Americans will continue to deny the evil attacks being waged against our country, choosing instead to point fingers within our own borders at the "evil" ones who denounce practices like gay marriage and abortion. Romans chapter 1 is being enacted right before our eyes but even Christians refuse to see it. Most Christians, I fear, myself included, have fallen into the trap of only being concerned about things that directly affect us today. I don't have teen girls and was never a teen mother, so abortion doesn't affect me. I'm happily married, so the threat of gay marriage doesn't affect me. We need to regain a clear vision of right and wrong, and start living and acting on principle. That's what the founders of this country did and what makes it great.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

So In the End, Who Wins?

When I read various threads on Christian forums representing differing opinions, I can't help wondering if people are somehow expecting to hear God say in heaven, "You were right." I think some people believe heaven will be the ultimate vindication for everything they strove for here on earth.

I don't think that will be the scene at all. For one thing, I believe we will be so in awe of being face to face with our awesome God, the petty squabbles we had here on earth will be far removed from our minds. But in a greater sense, I know that heaven will not be about who was right on earth. The rejoicing will be all in the victory won by the Son, the final destruction of Satan and his dominion and the banishing of sin for all eternity.

So wouldn't our time here on earth be so much better spent in propagation of that ultimate victory, and lifting up the God whom we will forever give all praise and glory?

Answered Prayer: All in God's Time

My dad trusted Christ in 1995, when my mom had cancer. We had prayed 20 years for his salvation. Since then, he has attended church faithfully, shared his experience with others but that's about it. He never did like to read. He sits next to me in SS, and likes the teacher, but much of it is over his head because he lacks the foundation (but that's where he likes to go).

Recently their neighbors were saved and asked my mom to do a Bible study with them, and my dad agreed to join them. She's been doing their assignment with him each week. Today she got up and found his Bible out on the table. He had done the study on his own!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

How Many is Too Many?

Wow, I just realized I have a thing for that little word "to." I think I used it on an average of 10 times per paragraph. Wonder where I picked up that bad habit? Something to work on - oops! I must quit that!

The Classic Car Bug!

Last night Mike called me in to show me an old 1970 Oldsmobile for sale on eBay. It sure was a beaut and it was fine with me if he wanted to bid on it. I thought he was serious! I know some wives would have a heart attack but honestly, I trust Mike to always do what's best for us regarding our finances. If he thinks we can afford a new (old) car, that's fine with me! Well, he came out a while later and of course, he was just dreaming. I'm so thankful for a partner though who still loves to dream and better yet, shares his dreams with me! I'm a lucky girl!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Note to Self: Circle Back

I need to remind myself when I'm writing to circle back and close the loop. Conclusions are, admittedly, my weak point, especially with non-fiction. Sometimes I leave myself hanging; I pity my poor (potential) readers! It's merely a lack of discipline on my part, a failure to take my thoughts to completion. Hmm, maybe it's a habit carried over from my daily life; the laundry basket of clothes waiting to be folded can attest to that!

I find blogging to be conducive to this tendency. It's easy to hop on here and scribble out a few random thoughts but I really must strive to connect the dots and "finish the task." I have for my example Jesus Christ, who finished what he came to do, the redemption of man. This will be my prayer in the days ahead: Lord, help me to finish what I start.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Circus Act

Sometimes I feel like one of those circus acts where the guy attempts to keep a number of plates or basketballs spinning. It's quite a feat. Well, the circus act, I mean. What's not so amazing is my attempt to keep my life in balance. I get one ball spinning - like this blog. Wahoo - 14 days in a row! But wait - what happened to my Bible journal? Or I get on a "Fly Lady" kick with the house and for a few weeks the sink stays clean and the laundry finds a home. But then my writing drops off the deep end.

How do I ever learn to keep them all spinning? Surely there has to be a better way than how the circus guy does this - running here and there, giving first this plate, then that one a spin. Just the thought of it wears me out! If anyone has a solution, please be so kind as to share it with me. Until then, I can only take comfort in God's promise to finish the good work He began in me. His work in my life is better than any circus act, so I must just trust Him more each day.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Lord Giveth; the Lord Taketh Away

Ronald Reagan may have been most loved for his wonderful personality, his contagious laugh and his ability to see the good in every situation. For sure, he was a true and loyal friend to his friends and it wasn't hard to be his friend. Yet in his declining years, stricken with Alzheimer's, the light in his eyes which many of us loved, slowly dimmed. He couldn't even recognize his closest family members the last few years, calling his wife of 50 years "Mommy" as she faithfully tended to his needs.

I can't help thinking about Gram. In the same way, it seems her greatest strength and ability was taken from her as she entered her golden years. It pained me to see Gram confined to bed by the ravages of osteoporosis. She had always been such a doer - no task was ever too daunting for her. Whether it was refinishing furniture, painting a mural on the kitchen wall or dragging tons of garbage to the burn pile, she always found a way to do what she set her mind to. As she lay in bed, unable to do little more than watch TV, she dwelt not on what she could no longer do, but on what she could do. She could always give, and give she did until that very last Saturday when she hugged us all goodbye. A hug, a kiss, a smile, a word of advice or funny story - even a bit of cash on occasion - she never lost the power to give.

Morbid though it may be, I can't help but wonder what I'll be like if I live to the age Gram did. What abilities will be taken from me? Will I be blind and unable to devour books like I do now? Will I be bedridden, with no strength to tackle anymore projects? Or will I lose my ability to communicate with the ones I love? I don't dwell on these things but I do accept the fact that this body of flesh is "destroyed day by day." Truly the only hope we have is in Christ.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Thoughts on Writing

Isn't the power of words that God has bestowed upon us amazing? Could a man begin to count all the words that have ever been uttered on earth since the foundation of time? Through words, we can transcend time and space, at least the space that lies between the continents and exists as a language barrier. Through words, we can preserve for future generations the chronicles of our life and times, while at the same time we learn from those who've walked before us. Through words, we are able to persuade, inspire, sympathize and instruct. But the power of the words lay not in the words themselves - that mysterious conglomeration of symbols and letters. Rather, it is the owner of the words that holds the key to their power. And while that power can be used to comfort, construct and build others, it can also be used to the detriment of others. It is daily our choice, and we are responsible for every word we speak.

I pray that my words, be they many or few, may always be spoken or written in such a way that the reader is lifted up and drawn closer to Christ through them.

And should someone ever decide to preserve my words for posterity's sake, even if they were found thousands of years from now, I must remember that my words are not eternal. Like me, they will also perish someday. God's Word is the only faithful and true word for all time and eternity. The only way anything I write, therefore, can ever have lasting value, is if my words proclaim God's Word and the truth therein.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Then the Bells Rang

I caught as much of the Reagan funeral as I could on the radio this morning. I'll watch it more on tape later. I'm usually not one to watch these broadcast events but this one has held me captive since I heard of his death on Saturday.

So many thoughts tumbled over each other in my mind as I listened to the service. Irish myself, I especially enjoyed the solos by Ronan Tynan of the Irish Tenors. Ronald Reagan was just a WYSIWYG type of guy - he was what he was. No need for posturing or putting on airs. He was a man who genuinely cared about his fellow man and was not afraid to pursue what he believed to be right. What an example for us all. I remember his first term especially well, thanks mostly to Mr. Collins' history and Economics classes in high school, when my eyes were opened to the realm of politics and my role as a citizen. I'll definitely be checking out a few books on his life and administration in the weeks to come.

I'm so glad he is free now, and with the Lord he loved.

Some thoughts on writing

It was nice to see a few new faces at CWG last night. I find it fascinating that we can come together to share our journey down a common path, yet each of our journeys are singularly unique and a reflection of ourselves. Reminds me of Psalm 139 which we memorized with the girls in Pioneer Clubs this year. We are all created in the image of God, but no two of us are alike. Anyways I do look forward to sharing with this group and gaining confidence in my own writing as I learn and share with others. Another part of the path is beginning to open up for me.

That said, I must get back on track with my writing efforts. I can make all the excuses I want, or I can just write. It's really up to me! I need to refocus my goals and get busy, even if it's not as much as I can do when fall rolls around.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Proud to be an American

Yes, I'm proud to be an American. Those feelings of pride swelled again this week as clips of Ronald Reagan flooded the networks. I don't recall the shame of the Vietnam era that put our country's pride in such a slump, but I do remember feeling secure and grateful for a leader like Reagan who upheld American ideals to our nation and the world.

On the other hand though, is it possible our national pride has resulted in the moral decline we see today? Has our pride blinded us to the fact that all we have and all we are is from Almighty God? Except for 9-11, when as a nation we cried out before God, it seems we have forgotten God in our quest to be a great nation. One by one, we must all come back to the place in our hearts, on our knees before God, recognizing His great hand in our nation's preservation and prosperity. And one by one, we all will. It's just a matter of when.