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!