Friday, December 25, 2009

Love Overcomes Loss

Christmas day. I wonder at the unexplainable.

A young couple barely married a year, expecting their first child, looking for a new house to call home and welcome their expanding love. They are ready to share a holiday of brimming hope. Instead of preparing for the tiny blessing on it's way, they face a very different task this Christmas. Planning the funeral of their precious little girl they will never get to hold. A tiny life designed and chosen by God, lost before her first breath. This should not be so. I cannot imagine their pain. It is unexplainable.

Another young couple facing the scorn of the pregnant unwed. Searching for a place to welcome their child. Her child. Determined to be a family, they plan. They hope and love grows. This tiny miracle, the most magnificent in all history enters our world with a cry. Breathing in our frailty. Does he know, even then? A moment before he was God, infused with power to do anything, to know everything. What did He lose to give himself to us? God designed and chose every moment. I can't imagine the depth of grief in giving His child to die. It should not be so. But it is. He chose to give.
It is unexplainable. All I can think is:

Love Overcomes Loss.

Today I have two prayers. One for the baby lost, that love will overcome in the grieving family. Another, for the baby given. Love born. Let Him overcome our hearts.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Operation Buy Wheels-The Plot Thickens

AAAAKKK! Someone pulled the grenade pin and lobbed it! I'm doing this car buying thing slowly and methodically, dare I say wisely, and they have the audacity to announce the deadline is only FOUR days away. Kaboom. No more $4,500 dollar scrap metal.

I can't even put Step 5 into action by Monday. Wait you say, I'm counting and what happened to Step 4? Ok for the few of you who read my last post on car buying and noticed, THANK YOU. I'd send you a free book but I'm not currently in with any publishers. I do have a delectable can of black beans in the cupboard. Interested?

Ok fine.

Step 4 isn't that much fun anyway. After test drive Saturday, Sunday came-church. Well, church was totally fun, but I mistakenly mentioned my escapades to a Pastor's wife. The Pastor's wife who I sat by during Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsay. Yes, her husband led the class. Oh the things that pass my lips. With both index fingers pointing and thumbs cocked like handguns, she jumped into protect your sister from a HUGE mistake mode. (She is as sweet as can be and I love her, but. . . I want a car). It gets worse.

Pastor was teaching on 1 Chorinthians and smack in the middle of his sermon he launches this rocket. "A lot of people are excited about buying a new car in the government program. I don't care if you're getting $4,500. If you can't afford the payments, don't do it. I didn't say that in first service, there must be someone here who needs to hear that." UGH! Service ended and I tried to make my tactical retreat when I was intercepted by the aforementioned Pastor of Finance. (I just gave him a new title) "I hear you need to listen to a lesson from FPU again. I'll get you the DVD's."

Throw up the white flag. I gave up and meekly followed to the office for the dreaded DVD's of reason. You'd be proud of me I listened-twice and an extra lesson to boot. I even pulled out the car cd's and listened to the savings lesson. It's coming back to me now.

The economy.
The budget.
The need.
The desire.
Strike the desire.
I decided to take a break and pray more, listen harder. My verse this month has been Prov 1:33
He who listens to me shall dwell securely.
He shall live at ease from the dread of evil.
I guess Step 5 will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm hyperventilating tonight.

Operation Buy Wheels

I'm trying to make a decision. The bigger the decision, the more I research. The more potential impact, the more I seek advice. The bigger the consequence of making the wrong decision the harder I pray.

Research, seek advice and pray - sounds like a wise combination.
And everyone said, "Amen".

Should I get a new car through the government trade in program? We need a car. Seriously, we do. Our '78 Caprice Classic doesn't qualify and I want to keep our good car, a previously wrecked '96 Buick Regal. It ain't pretty, but the engine has a lot of life left. I dismissed that option. I thought about our business van. It isn't worth more than the price of scrap metal. It has been in an accident so the front end is messed up and it will not shift out of first. Even so, I let the idea slide.

The economy.
The budget.

Then temptation, or divine intervention or the devil stepped in at work. I still haven't decided which. I spent a week listening to several people telling me to trade the business van. Absolutely 100% do it and do it now. They totally ganged up on me. They were car shopping and advising and thoroughly messing with my head, filling it with a whole other set of options. So I dove into the project again.

Some decisions stress me. Especially when it involves large sums of money and long-term implications. Call me a pansy. I prefer prudent. Time to apply decision making strategy.

Step 1 Wait before I get to step 1, for the record, prayer goes with every step. Don’t forget prayer.

Back to Step 1. Research. It is wise to have the right information to make the right decision. Problem is that information overload can work against me and give so many ok options that the best option gets lost in the shuffle. I drive myself nuts with whishy-washy indecision but, I avoid rash decisions.

Impulsiveness can do a person in faster than scat. Impulsive I'm not. Well, most of the time anyway. Debating the pros and cons and calculating the potential impact of the decision is important. Don’t I sound so wise? Except I can debate myself in circles, take the side of either pro or con and routinely flip sides-on a daily basis. I have turned my brain to mush trying to wade through the muck of options.

The economy.
The budget.
The need.

So I wade through Consumer Reports dissecting the information like a seasoned covert agent. Isn’t car shopping a little like sleeping with the enemy? I’m entering guerilla warfare. I consider this boot camp. Eliminate high maintenance cars get a short list of trusty reliable models. I'm loyal. When I pick something, I want to have it for a long time. I'm talking this car should see me into my card carrying senior discount years. Note Item #2 in my last post. Oh my, I'm doing the math, that's so true and completely depressing! I'm getting up there in years.

Step 2 My financial adviser. He has patiently answered my myriad of questions and helped with excellent information about car expense. However, he's being a good “adviser” (key word) not making the decision for me. I walked in there expecting him to say, Are you crazy? Instead he said there are times when a need is real and this might be the time to buy. I hoped someone would tell me NO and save me the agony of the decision process. Drat.

So step 2 continued. I took a hard look at my budget, studied some areas I could adjust and came up with an amount I felt I could spend on a car. Yeesh, I hope I’m right. I wanted to be fully prepared when I put operation Buy Wheels in action. I could see it the lean, mean negotiating machine. Salesman? Finance manager? Bring it on boys. I know my numbers. I’m ready for the challenge!

Step 3 Test drive the short list. This brought on more than a little anxiety. I’m not mean. I’m totally NOT lean. Negotiating machine? I’m wilting. My last trip to a dealership was a horrible experience and I haven't set foot in a show room since. Sure it was 20 some years ago, but trauma remains.

I knew the lure of the shiny-smells new-feels good test drive was dangerous, but I drove on the lots with steeled resolve. Almost. Oh, they are soooo nice. Not much for acceleration, but flies quietly at 65. It even has a cup holder. That’s an issue in our current car. Can you believe not one cup holder??? Hey, the windows don’t constantly grind and rattle either. By now I'm not sure I want someone to tell me no. I’m in agony. I have seen the enemy and the enemy is me. And that finance manager poised for my takedown? Not in the negotiating mood. What’s up with that?

The economy.
The budget.
The need.
The desire.

Brake lights. Screeching tires on pavement. STOP. Drive awaaayyyy from the lot. Resist temptation. Time for a tactical retreat but the battle is far from over.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 7

1. Occasionally I hope and wish and actually dare to believe a really cool is blessing is just around the corner. Like when I was one of the final callers to win a cruise. But didn't. Like when I'm hoping God will help me find and get a new car. So far, nada. Like when an insurance claim may, just may pay for much needed siding for my house. Should I get my hopes up? Even without the free cruise, even if I keep my clunker, whether I get the siding or not, I'm still blessed.

2. I had a first this week and it wasn't a good one. I was paying for wedding shower supplies at an innocent enough looking store and the clerk timidly asked if I had the 55 senior discount. WHAT!?! This place is a wolf in sheep's clothing. How bad do I look today? Where's my wrinkle cream? Are the bags under my eyes the size of freight containers? How utterly deflating. Maybe that is my problem. I'm deflated. . .
3. A picture is worth a thousand words and a friend's simple gesture is priceless.

Thanks friend!

4. My mom went in for a routine stint replacement. Unfortunately nothing is ever routine for mom. I feel so bad for her. A procedure some get on out-patient basis is stretching into the following week. First she had to go early for extra treatment to prepare for surgery. Then although the stint went fine, the artery they used in her arm would not clot and close. She spent a very painful night then was blessed with another surgery to stitch the artery the next day. Now five days later, her arm is still so sore from the bleeding and bruising, everyday tasks are next to impossible. She's a trooper though. Were are treating her to a movie night tonight.
5. Speaking of a wolf in sheep's clothing. I spent a lot of time last week car shopping. Wow is that stressful! Decisions are sometimes agony, sometimes easy. With me money decisions and big ones to boot are always agony. I've been getting some great advice and slowed down, way down. When my newest car is 13 years old, I have to admit, I really would like a new one. Check back soon to see me decision escapades and if I'm totally nuts. I almost declared myself so.

6. I keep catching my daughter in the act. I've been able to do it plenty lately and every time I have to smile. More and more frequently, I find her in her room studying her bible. AAhhhh! There is a growing number of sticky notes above her bed of bible verses she wants to remember and there are two on our computer monitor. I love it!
7. School has already started in our house. Volleyball conditioning at 6:30 a.m. is a tough adjustment. What a rude awakening! That switched to afternoons next week, but play practice takes over three mornings, at 6:30. Yowsers. I hope we get to bed better than we did last night.
Read more snippets of life in action at Conversation Diary. Have a great weekend! Do something wonderful for a friend.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella. We've dreamed of entering the royal ball and felt the excitement of everyone turning to watch us glide down the grand stairway. Ah, the center of attention. Feels special doesn't it? For some yes, it's what they live for. But others cower at the very thought. Center of anything? They would rather be the fly on the wall.

As a child, recess brought anxious hope that I would not be last when sides were chosen for kick ball. Wait. High School ushered in wallflower years and disenchantment as I was passed over for honors. Withdraw. College brought the feeling of being way in over my head to the point that I switched my major. Fear. Adulthood gnaws that I'm squandering opportunity. I'd love to be God's go to girl, but He doesn't always choose me for assignments. Restlessness.

It isn't pleasant to feel overlooked. It's a frightening feeling to feel live is passing us over. The past emerges and points fingers of frustration, defeat and inadequacy. Lies. All of them. But I too often buy what they are selling. Until I read the resume of the applicant God chose for a whopper of an assignment.

Wanted: Leader for a stubborn, unruly nation. Someone to fill the massive shoes of Moses. Must exert decisive action while conquering a land of giants and fortified cities. Ability to sieze opportunity and unify the people under one purpose is required.

Applicant: Joshua
Only he never formally applied.

Born a slave. Bad start. Member of the wrong class. Before the exodus, he received army training in Egypt. He was working for the wrong side. Younger than most, without evidence of a strong father figure, Moses selected him as a helper. Living in the shadow of this leader could have made him envious. Skill acquired: Learned to receive instruction and obey wholeheartedly. Benefit: Got an inside view of the workings of leadership both the good and the bad.

Received his first big break when selected to the scout team for the final home of the nation. Because of his youth and discenting opinion, Joshua was not taken seriously when he advised moving forward immediately. Sadly overlooked, he could have felt disrespected. Through no fault of his own, he was forced to endure 40 dreadful years in the desert. Result: Aimless and wasted years they weren't. Benefit: When many of the people were laid low in the wilderness, the conditions toughened Joshua and strengthed his resolve.

The seeming pinnacle of his career came when he accompianed Moses to the mountain. For nearly a year Joshua camped close to The Most High, but Moses got to continue all the way to the peak and right into God's presence. Joshua didn't get the full privileges of Moses' personal contact and converstion with God. Joshua could only sit and wait. He might have felt shortchanged. However, he steadfastly waited for his leader to return. Outcome: First witness of the glory of God shining through Moses. Benefit: Undoubtedly building a belief that can not be shaken.

Continuing experience and qualification. Not much remarkable to say. Certainly he doesn't fit the typical mold of the fast track to stardom and power.

Interesting applicant. In all those 40 years Joshua only followed and assisted. He never gave orders and never was given control. Joshua only responded. He was overlooked by everyone. Except God.

Eventually, at just the right time, Joshua was commissioned publicly by Moses as the next leader. I don't get the impression that he was expecting to take over the nation. If so why would both Moses and God continually encourage him to be strong and courageous? Will those moments from his past point their finger of insecurity? Decades of having people overlook him could have eroded confidence in himself.

We have all been overlooked. I know it is too easy to fall into the temptation of believing the lies produced by feeling undervalued. I'm so encouraged by Joshua. God did not overlook and Joshua responded.
  • God trained him for battle. Joshua learned skills as an army slave to later conquer a land.
  • God gave him a teacher, Moses. Joshua gained a father figure and learned the right and wrong way to be a leader.
  • God gave him vision. Joshua saw what could be when he scouted the enemy territory.
  • God gave him examples. Joshua watched the people and learned the cost of disobedience and faithlessness.
  • God gave him steadfastness. Through trials in the desert, Joshua learned to buck the trend and trust what God says.
Hurts growing up can be assets today. I still feel overlooked sometimes, if I'm looking around and not up. I understand the learning process better. Maybe no one else notices, but God does! I'm not expecting to become the leader of anything. I want God to know He can rely on me to be His go to girl.

Cinderella relished every moment of the ball, but planned to sneak back to her everyday life. She had no idea what was ahead for her. I don't live in a fairytale. But I also have no idea what lies ahead. I only know I'm never overlooked by God. That is enough for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Absorbing Verses Takes the Daily Challenge

Do you ever have one of those days when your curled up early in your favorite chair, sipping coffee and wholeheartedly wanting to meet God and absorb (my new banner and favorite word) some scripture to live by that day and then you read the verses and think, Oh dear, what's going to happen? That was my morning.

I'm studying James this summer. It is a great book chock full of so many things I would like to get right. So this morning I'm happily reading along and then,

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.
James 3:17-18

Now I'm looking at these verses and I'm thinking I got trouble with a capital T. I can usually feel the days my reading will get specifically challenged. Satan loves trying to whack me in the knees with exactly what I just vowed to God I would get right. To bolster my resolve, I read it several times and took off for the day in prayer.

Work went smoothly most of the day. So far so good. Days now are somber and quiet. In the struggling economy, we are particularly hard hit. We have gargantuan problems to solve. I am not in charge and those in charge are not necessarily decisive or people of action. We have been thinking about the problems too long in my opinion. My challenge: Keep my place. Support. Be patient. Pray. Be respectful. Should be easy. Except there are days I want to shake someone and scream, Let's just get on with it. Do something!

Anyway, Satan lurked in the background until mid-afternoon when I typed a letter for my boss intended to go to some people he feels aren't doing enough to help with the situation. Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns. Oh my goodness. James, remember the verses, pray, pray harder.

I typed the letter thinking this is a mirror of us. It made me really frustrated so guess what I did. I copied the letter and edited it so instead of pointing the finger at someone else, it brought the focus right back to us or more pointedly him. Yep, the message was pretty clear. I printed it, I prayed, I hand wrote an encouraging note at the bottom. I let it sit at my desk for a while to "cool off" and then I laid it on his desk. Done.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure.
Were my motives pure? No.
It is also peace loving.
Do I want to cause discomfort to spur them to action? Yes.
Gentle at all times.
Could I have expressed my feelings in a different way? Probably.
Willing to yield to others.
I am not in charge. God will take care of this. Not me.
It is full of mercy and good deeds.
Did my action encourage or bring down?
Well I tried to encourage. I doubt it was received that way.
It shows no partiality is always sincere.
I was sincere, but I didn't choose a good method.
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.

I'm not feeling very good right now. First thing in the morning, I need to absorb these verses again and then have a heart-to-heart with my boss. In case that sounds odd, my boss is also my dad. Yeah, I know that's a whole other dimension I just goofed up. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Absorbing Life

I started watching Titanic tonight. I haven't seen it since it's 1997 theater release. That theater is gone now, turned into a live music dinner club. I haven't wanted to watch the movie again since my relationship with my movie going friend met the same fate. But forgive me, I'm distracted.

The opening scene immediately draws me in. This is a superbly crafted film. But it doesn't take me long to get distracted, again. I start thinking about visiting the Titanic museum in Branson last fall. Now, watching the movie and seeing a familiar dress, china, watching them walk the grand stairway, all make me wish I had taken more time to absorb the opportunity. People's lives, and the end of them, memorialized for us to understand unparalleled optimism and the tragic plundering of hope and belief.

I feel a twinge of regret knowing there are so many opportunities I haven't taken time to absorb. Countless places I've been and things I've done I wish I could go back and do right. Give it the time and attention it deserves and know I haven't shortchanged the experience.

D.C. is on the list, but give me a break I was in high school. Mature scholar that I was, I chose to hang out at the hotel running stuffed animals up and down the elevator and getting into shaving cream fights instead of going to the Pentagon. Good grief. I lived in Colorado for six years. I never went to Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Royal Gorge Bridge and countless other things I wish I had. What was I thinking?

What am I shortchanging today? There are opportunities to absorb. Every day. As much as I enjoy them, I'm not talking about a tourist attraction or museum. I'm talking about life and I often shortchange it. I've read books recently I can barely remember. I scurry through four jobs at once in the name of efficiency. Sadly, none is done quite as well as if I had given it my full attention. I do so many things that dissipate like fog at noon.

How about people? People really matter. Talking with friends, lunch together. Visiting with my mom and dad. Spending time with family. I won't always have the opportunity. Why birth regret by doing things half way? It scares me to think each time I am only partially in a conversation, they know. Maybe next time they won't bother. Do I give the impression to my friends and family that they aren't important enough to deserve my full attention?

I want to absorb opportunities now. Really, I do. I just need to get better at it. I imagine rich, living color memories and deeper, more rewarding relationships from a life fully lived. I'm going to give it a try. How about you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 6

1. I'm trying on a new attitude. Well, not new, I just get out of the habit of using it and forget how good I feel when I do. It's like pulling my well worn sweatshirt out of the closet after summer. I forget how relaxed and good I feel slipping on my favoritest most comfortabliest clothes. Yes, I know those aren't words. but the feeling of my favorite sweats is too good for the correct verbage. I just read "Who Moved My Cheese". A quick reading book with some really good reminders about dealing with change. (See #5)
The best cheese quotes for me are:
1. What would you do if you are not afraid?
2. When you change what you believe, you change what you do.

I googled the book and found a 10 minute video that covers the story. Give it a try. If I weren't so tired because of #2-3, I would spend half the night figuring out how to put the video directly

Try the link for dummies (that would be me)

2. I live in the heart of America. July means fair time. Projects to complete, or not. Guess sewing the dress will have to wait until next year. Baking to do, which she gets to do again for State Fair. Cakes to decorate. Best of show-again. Oh yeah, my girl is awesome!

3. Speaking of fair time. If you have never experienced the thrill of completing last minute project stress, final baking, more stress and rush to the fair praying you have everything needed to enter all the projects and handle any unforeseen catastrophes because there is always at least one tragedy, which really is a run on sentence, because it feels like holding your breath while running a multi-day marathon, Gasp! You really should experience the joy just once.

4. HOWEVER, this year I scored big time. After giving myself an attitude adjustment, filled with prayer and constant admonishment that if we didn't get say, 18,000 projects done, life really would continue. I was standing in the building in the midst of the check-in tornado when a friend from church walked by and asked how I stay so calm. TOUCHDOWN!

5. School is just around summer's bend ushering in my year as president of the Music Boosters. A position I was coerced into, one which I have dreaded for several months, one which I have been convincing myself I don't have time for, will do terrible and forget every job I'm supposed to do thus letting every music parent down and ruining the next several years of hopeful student anticipation of melodic greatness. Ugh. I've know this cheese was going to move, I just wanted to Hem about it until I read that book this week. Now I will embrace the year, picture myself organized, competent and excited about getting people on the bandwagon. (Bad pun).

6. Should it bother me to go days without thinking of anything I feel is worth sharing? I've read a variety of writing advice recently ranging from: A. Write everyday to B. If you can think of any other way to make a living besides writing, do it! Hmm.

7. I'm amazed at how many people don't know how to count change. I bought gas this week and gave the man a $50. He actually grabbed a piece of paper and wrote out the subraction problem of 50.00 - 34.73. At least he got the answer right. Computers and calculators aren't all that. My math skills are dummy'un down from lack of use. So'z my vocabulary and spelling for that matter.
Well, I better quit before I prove myself totally inept at writing anything close to interesting, but that reality probably occured to you back at about#4 (I hope not #1.) If you are reading these words right here at the end of my tired and tiring life in a nutshell, KUDOS AND THANKS A GADZILLION!
Visit people who actually have a proper vocabulary, can spell with the best of them and entirely captivating takes on their week, at Conversation Diary.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 5

1. I determined to have more fun this summer. For the most part, it is a good working plan. I haven't found as many things to laugh about this week though. A local family is reeling from the sudden and untimely loss of their husband and father. Complications from a fall and head injury led to his death yesterday. He was just a few years older than me and graduated with my brother. The whole community is shaken. I can't imagine what his wife and children are feeling. I can only lift their hurt in prayer.

2. I'm slipping the wrong direction on the scale this summer. WAY wrong! I exercise regularly, but I'm not seeing progress. I hate it that only a few summer clothes fit right now. So, these last two days I've had only juice, lots of water, fruit, no pop, only one cup of coffee-decaf. Can anyone say headache? Ok, I did have cake last night. I know, I know. But I invited my bible study ladies over Saturday night and I'm glad I tried this new recipe early. BooMama raved about Veronica's Caramel Buttermilk Cake. Mention caramel and I'm all over it. Even though it didn't turn out totally delici-oh-so, I'm determined to try again! It's caramel, I simply must.

3. I'm ticked. I'd say I'm buzzed, but you might think I've been tipping a few and that is sooo not me. The bees are back. Ugh! My porch piller is home bees-again. They were here when we moved in. Two times we have successfully had them gassed out or whatever the bug man does to send the varmints on their way. We haven't seen any for eight years or more. Now the very day I send out my invite for the party, I see them buzzing their ridicule. Where's the justice in the world?

4. I do have one funny for this week. If this has made its way to your inbox already, please make me feel good and laugh anyway. I thought this was hilarious. The pictues is a little blurry, but I hope you get the idea of this redneck fire alarm.
5. I'm really hungry. This juice thing better pay off, big time.

6. My daughter is gone this week with Esprit de Corp. A youth singing and drama group, a ministry of a local chruch. More than once this week people say in that tone-that sympathetic, I understand your lonely misery tone-how quiet it must be with her gone, you must miss her so. To which I reply, "I'm good, time flies while she is gone". Of course I think of her tons and pray lots, but God is getting me ready for when she is set free on the world. Progress.

7. My dear friend observed recently that I have high expectations for myself. Or maybe she said I was too hard on myself. Probably both. I've thought about that this week and wonder what is the right attitude? How do I live up to the potential God gave without driving myself and people around me insane? When is enough, enough?

Enjoy the weekend. I will. For other quick takes visit Conversation Diary.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mailboxes and Circles

Summer is time to grow.

I gave up on vegetable gardening years ago when I finally wised up and realized my piddly attempts at producing food only went to bugs and rot. Man, am I bad at vegetable gardening. But I love flower gardening. Mostly perennials. I'm too cheap to put much money into annuals even though I love seeing splashes of color blooming everywhere. I compromise by buying two eight packs of flowers and planting them in the most strategic places for impact and visibility. Kind of like putting up a good front so people think I do a lot when I really don't. But that sounds like a different post.

Anyway, the annuals are divided between my mailbox and a circle planter close by. I try to get them off to a good summer with plant starter and water and all the things petunias need to thrive. Here's where my annual lesson begins.
You see the same pack of flowers, started with the same care, planted only about 20 feet apart take on a very different life. The flowers in my circle planter are already four times bigger than their sisters at the mailbox. It's frustrating.

The mailbox is surrounded by heavy, tough soil. It is full of clay and rocks and gravel from the road and sits on a slope. Water is hard to hold. The nutrients the flowers need are just not there, but the weeds certainly are. I have to carry water to those flowers every day in the peak summer heat and fertilize much more often. I cover it with mulch, but it doesn't seem to stay. Those brave little blooms have to fight for their life.

The circle flowers on the other hand have it so much easier. I wonder if it makes the mailbox flowers jealous. I get that way sometimes. They have fertile black soil full of earthworms, they are covered in a deep layer of bark mulch and get water when I run the lawn sprinkler. What a cushy life. They are naturally surrounded by everything they need and hardly have to work at flowering.
God teaches me with these flowers. I want to be prolific for Him. Thrive and bloom profusely. I'm like these petunias. More often than not, my life has been at the mailbox. Planted in places that are tough to hang on to my identity and grow. Even harder to blossom. It has been, at times, very frustrating and tiring to say the least. Come on, I want to have the life of the circle flowers. I get it sometimes when I think God knows I need a reprieve. But, back the mailbox I go.

God shows me through caring for my flowers, how important it is to feed my soul. I need daily water through His word. I need regular nourishment through church and fellowship. The tougher it gets the more important this is. For some people in the bible God seemed throw all kinds of support their way. David had Jonathan. Ruth had Boaz. Others like Job and Jeremiah had to fight harder.

I watch for mailboxes and circles. People who cross my life and are living in the mailbox rocky hard soil. They need water. On the other hand, it is easy to forget to care for the circle flowers. I should not overlook circle people believing they have everything they need. It may look like it from the outside, but they still need care.

My struggling puny blooms from the rocky mailbox are just as precious to God as copious cascades of readily produced flowers. Whether I'm at the mailbox or the circle, my job is still to bloom to the best of my ability.

There is a way for each of us to be in the circle, for each of us to thrive. Put the right nutrients into the mix-daily time with God and nurturing relationships. Let's put that into other lives. Let's be a circle.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


There are times we don’t get the luxury of simply being Misplaced. Sometimes our lives are completely ripped out from under us. A few words spoken or unexpected events can forever alter our life.

There’s been an accident.
We’re forced to lay off employees.
I don’t love you anymore.
The tumor is malignant.

It hurts to have our lives ripped apart. Alot! So many of us have heard words that changed our life forever. Those times can seem so pointless and more dead than alive. Whether we see it coming or are caught totally unprepared, at least in our mind, the result is the same. Pain.

God, where are you?
Don't you see I'm hurting?

I sat with a friend recently and listened to the fresh raw wounds of life getting ripped apart. I felt utterly inadequate except for my ability to say, I know. I've been down this road. I'm a long way beyond one round of being ripped apart. I can see the past without pain. Don't get me wrong. It was hard. But, can I stop my friend's pain? I can stay beside her but honestly, I wouldn't want to stop the hard journey she is just beginning. You see, there is a master and a masterpiece involved.
God, what is going on?
Can't you take this away?
Stick it out. Believe it or not, God does have a purpose. He does not abandon. He is rolling up his sleeves, picking up his sculpting tool and shaping another part of his masterpiece. You. Me. Yeah, masterpieces.

Ok God, but what can I do?
I have no idea, help!

Esther was ripped from her life. Twice. As a young girl, both her parents died and she had to live with her uncle, Mordecai. Think of the loneliness and fear she must have faced. Then as a young woman, Esther was taken from her home to the palace and thrown into the pool of candidates to become queen. I don't care what fairytale stories you can tell me, this does not sound like the makings of one. She was a Jew in a foreign and intimidating place where failure meant she was ruined for life. Talk about pressure. Well, the princess became a queen, but instead of a fairytale ending, her real challenges were just around the corner. Her people were threatened with extermination.

Now what?
Are you kidding me, God?

It is so easy to respond to pain by flinging "how come" and "why me" at God. Esther's situation was not going to change. There was no going back. Her life was ripped apart and it was moving on with or without her. How did she respond? Esther trusted God. She did have fear, but despite fear she was obedient and never compromised her faith.

What did God do for Esther? LOTS! He was preparing her for the biggest job of her life-to stand in the midst of attack and help God save a nation! WOW! Do we have something incredible like that in us? Maybe not that big, but I bet we do have something special we can do for God. But let's get back to how He prepared Esther.
  • God gave Mordecai as a protector. He raised Esther as his own and taught her about faith and God.
  • God placed Mordecai in the palace before Esther. Its like God going before her. God established Mordecai there so he knew the King's ways and laws. This enabled him to give Esther wise advise.
  • God gave Esther strength and encouragement through Mordecai. He knew God and he understood Esther. When Esther waivered afraid to talk to the King, Mordecai bolstered her resolve.

The ripped apart, ugliness of growing up prepared Esther better than anything. Uprooting prepares us too. I learn from Esther that God not only prepares us to be uprooted, he prepares ways to thrive while we are taking root and putting on new growth. God gives relationships to bring us through hard times and encourage us to grow. God both is and gives us protectors. He goes before us. He gives us strength and encouragement.

As I pray for my friend, I pray that this encouraging relationship will flourish. As I look at my next go around at getting uprooted, I want to take the lessons from Esther and do something special for God.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Morning Renewal

My weekend starts early. Heat made this week swelter. I venture to my porch early to test the comfort level for my quiet time. Ah! A breeze whispers through leaves in the nearby field, birds chatter their good morning to the rising sun. Quiet, peaceful, refreshing.
The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23.
In the midst of stress and uncertainty God comes and reminds me He is here.
Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Have Fun Do Nothing

I find myself frustrated and jealous lately. Basically fighting off a severe case of the whines. It hits me every summer, but not usually until the end of July. I have bumped into so many people lately either in real life or virtual, i.e. facebook talking about the same summer theme. Have fun and do nothing. They are posting pictures of camping and vacations and all this totally cool stuff. OR they have told me summertime is when they just don't do much of anything. Really? I want in that club! I'm genuinely impressed they have the freedom of spirit to kick back. When I think summertime, I think more work.

I have to say I have not worked myself to death tonight but, I can't figure out how they do it. You know. Have fun and do nothing. Now I did recently invite some friends over for an impromptu evening and it was great. Loved it totally! But that is not the norm for me. I'm more like last night when I vacuumed at 11:00 p.m. so I would feel better when I went to bed.

Fill me in. Do I just let things go to have fun? Am I allowed to? I can't seem to do that. I want to have fun, and share time with friends and family. Really, I do. Really! But. . . I think it's a sickness. Maybe it's the HFDN aversion flu. I want the time I spend time with my family to be more than about work and goals and producing something. We forget how to even do it - Have fun and do nothing. I want to laugh more.

It even makes me feel guilty because as a Christian, I'm supposed to be joyful. Letting my light shine, letting people see there is a difference in me. Oh, boy.

I want to go somewhere totally inspiring, kick back, and laugh. Better yet, I want to learn how to find that inspiration every day, right here. That would really make a difference. So here goes:

I will laugh more.
I will find fun in the everyday.
I will take time to kick back and do nothing.

Ok, now that I've made all these altruistic declarations. Why don't I just admit the truth. What I really want is to go somewhere totally inspiring, have fun, do nothing and laugh.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

God Prepares

One of the elders in my church is a quiet and steady example of obedience to God and dedication to serving the church body. I've heard him joke about being a "rent a husband" and actually thought at the time I needed to rent him for my to do list. He is a faithful and humble servant who loves using his skills to help others. He truly enjoys doing for others.

Last fall he was doing for others when he fell from a ladder and broke his back. Although he miraculously was not paralyzed, that day his life was changed completely and permanently. Weeks and weeks in the hospital. Months of therapy. I don't know all the depths of his struggle. I can't speak for the anguish his family endured. Indeed, his wife, children and grandchildren have all experienced change because of his fall.

I know he talked to his family after he was home. He told them he had been praying and asked God to show him how he would handle it, if something really bad happened. Then came the fall, not immediately after, but nevertheless, after his time of praying. He said he didn't mind God answering his prayer. But he was so sorry because he didn't realize how much his prayer would cost the family.

I've thought about his story and laid it along side some really difficult things I've gone through. I compared my prayers then and can see how God prepared me through them.

Months before cataclysmic events, He started the process. First, quickening my heart to feel the need come back to him. So I made my way back to church even though I had to go alone. Then, as I kept opening myself, he used a radio program - I think it was Dobson - to give me an understanding of things happening to people in my life. It was hard to hear and I needed time to process what I was learning. It seemed just as I had come to terms with his first revelation, he hit me again. Same program, same basic message, Except God took it to the next step, a deeper level. Maybe God was very patient, but what I really think is that he started working in my heart early enough that I would be completely ready when the day came to face the situation head on. Prayer was a big part of the process.

It was preparation of the deepest parts of my soul. A divine mix of understanding, a realization of my weakness and desperate need for him, while at the same time giving me an uncommon strength. One not my own. I learned what happens when I stay close to him in prayer and live in his presence. God prepared me for the moment I had to ask a most difficult question by already giving me the answer. God spent months getting me ready for that moment and the life changing events that would come.

Back to my church elder. Did God allow the accident as a response to his prayer? Did God listen to his prayers and sit down in heaven one afternoon and think, Hmm, what an idea. I think I will see how he reacts if something really bad happens. I'll cook up the scheme to have him fall off a ladder. Or, were his prayers a part of the preparation to face the accident God knew was coming?

Some might disagree, but I believe God knows everything that lies ahead. He loves us so much that he gets us ready for what life might throw at us. I believe it because I have experienced it.

Yes, I've had friends who have have terrible unexpected accidents rip their lives apart. I wish I could ask them as they look back on it now, if they can see the hand of God preparing them? Another friend asked God to teach her something and went through an unbelievably hurtful experience directly related to her prayer.

Does thinking about the possibility of these kind of answers make us afraid to pray? Should we be fearful that something bad might really happen?

I say it again, God knows everything. Bad things happen in every life. None of us are immune to tragedy and heartbreak. So many of us are facing things like this right now. I am. Again. We are looking into a very scary future and wonder what will happen. Where can God be in all of this?

As I look at the big, scary tomorrow, I remember yesterday and how he worked so carefully and patiently in my life. Most of the preparation was on the inside. Today, I know prayer shapes my soul. God shapes my prayers. God prepares.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 4

1. Sam, my newly acquired cat has been missing for nearly 24 hours now. Is it too soon an Ampurrrrr alert? I'm afraid he will not come back. Although he was obviously from someone home judging how tame he is, I want him to stay with us. I should feel bad I want to steal him for keeps.

2. I'm proud of my daughter. She really, really, I mean REALLY wanted to hang out with her favorite friends and eat her favorite food-Chinese (homemade no less), at one of her favorite places-Pastor Sam's house, but she did the right thing and went to her 4-H meeting instead. Way to go! I know that was a hard decision.

3. Do you ever wonder how God speaks? I do. I've been trying do decipher the meaning of a particular passage and how it relates to events in my life. Can it apply? God is talking about something completely different with people thousands of years ago and yet he is talking about the same things we face today. His truth ABSOLUTELY applies today! But I don't want to put my Linda spin on it. I want to get His message and I'm praying for understanding because I really don't want to get it wrong.

4. Shopping Caution!!!! Never, and I do mean NEVER, lean down to pick up something from the changing room floor and glance back into the mirror! My shock waves could have set off the security alarms. I may have had cottage cheese on the shopping list, but I didn't expect to find it on my backside in the ladies department!

5. The weather has been weird. Which is actually normal for our neck of the woods. We were terribly dry and missing every rain that came along, then had major storms, heavy rain and horrible hail four times in one week. Now it is staying cooler and wet when farmers want to get back out and replant crops destroyed by hail. Life on the plains isn't so plain after all. Reminds me of how big and awesomely powerful God is and how little I am.
6. My good friend is doing a great series of posts on connecting. You can read them at The Next Step. I've been thinking about how I can be better at making connections with people and I realize one stumbling block is that I'm not very good at small talk. I watch ladies around me happily chatting away about their favorite recipe, the goofy thing the kids did last night, any little thing and laughing and having fun together. Connecting. Not on a deep level, but it all starts there. The light, daily stuff that lets people get a glimpse of you and you get an idea of how they tick. I'm working on strategies to help me get better at this. Suggestions are welcome.

7. Back to #3. This situation is a biggy. The verse I'm going to apply today is: Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. Go ahead and borrow that verse for yourself if you are facing something big and scary. So many of us are. But God does care. He is there. He will see us through.
For more refreshing takes, visit Conversation Diary

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Guy in Town

We have a new guy at our house.
I have to say I like him already.
The trick will be to not get too attached,
while I'm trying to entice him to stick around.
He's very affectionate.
Good looking.
Has genuine, honest eyes.
He seems very well trained (as any male should be)
and quick to belly up to the bowl.
Isn't the way to a man's heart through his stomach?
He seems to like his freedom yet when he sees me, he comes running.
This one might be a keeper.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Titanic Raised

From the bottom of the Atlantic to Hollywood, my faith in human goodness and brotherly love has been raised. In Quick Takes - Take 2 , I (ahem)"bemoaned" the fact that the last survivor of the Titanic was financially destitute and suggested some of the people who made so much money on the movie, might bring it upon themselves to help.

Tonight, Millvina who was 9 weeks old at the sinking passed away. This was included in the news report.

"Among the donors to the Millvina Fund were Hollywood actors Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred in the 1997 "Titanic" film. The pair and the film's director, James Cameron, reportedly donated 30,000 US dollars in total."

I stand correct and I humbly apologize for my unfair assumptions. Thank you, Kate, Leo and James.

Friday, May 29, 2009


When my daughter was little we often ended the day with storytelling. She would give me a story starter then off I'd go weaving the most interesting tale I could imagine. We had a lot of fun with Percy and Penelope. Penguins who kept finding themselves in very unpenguin like places. One time they got off a plane and were in Hawaii. "What is this grainy stuff scratching my flippers? A beach!?!" "Percy Dear, I'm afraid I might be terrible ill. I'm oozing wetness from my forehead." As they tried to find their way back home, they kept landing in odd and challenging situations. Each place they had to figure out where they were, how to adapt and how to get back home.

I have had times in my life when I felt like Penelope. Places I landed and knew something was off kilter. I always had the best of intentions, but I wasn't intentional about my life. People, things and life in general carried me away. Plan A didn't work out as I hoped and I ended up unintentionally with Plan B. Yes, I have been Penelope on the beach.

What about when we are in the wrong place? Places not suited for who we thought God made us to be. There are a lot of ways to be there, good ways and bad, some of our own doing and some not. When we are misplaced, can we live up to God’s full potential?

Take Ruth as an example. Life dumped some lousy, hard problems on her and ended up in a foreign land. A widow. Lower than low. Most certainly misplaced. How did Ruth respond? She didn’t give up. She didn’t become bitter or make excuses. She worked and gleaned and stayed faithful where she was. Intentionally, pursuing Plan B.

What was her character? Ruth 2:11 gives us the picture from the viewpoint of Boaz. "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. "

I didn't lose a husband to physical death. But the death of a marraige is a painful way to get misplaced. Untentionally, I was thrown into Plan B. I felt like I was starting from scratch trying to figure out who I am and how God made me. I'm getting there. Figuring it out I mean. I was once misplaced. Now I'm intentionally pursuing Plan B. It has opened the door to getting acquainted with the person God knit together called Linda. His Linda. I can't see much of her back in my Plan A.

The misplaced life Ruth lived in Moab trying to provide for herself and Naomi (now called Mara) must have been hard. I think she felt a kindred Penelope on the beach spirit. She was in a strange country, with different ways and she had to adapt. I wonder what Ruth thought while she was breaking her back in the heat of the day picking bits of grain from the parched ground. Just enough to get by. Well, for that day at least. Did she grieve getting misplaced? How long was it before Boaz noticed her? Even while adapting, Ruth never let go of her faithfulness to God and what He placed in her life.

So what did God provide Ruth when she was misplaced? She didn't have to go it alone. He gave her a mother-in-law to guide her and a redeemer. Boaz saw her character and faithfulness. God honored Ruth through Boaz. He brought her back from being misplaced to a place of fulfillment. God provided her relationships. Naomi a mentor and Boaz a redeemer.

Was her Plan B really God's plan A? What about my plan B or yours? I know God doesn't make a habit of bringing hurt and pain into our lives, but we can't deny the good He creates from it.

When I am misplaced, I know now that I have to be intentional about pursuing God's Plan A. I don't have to go it alone. He provides not only Himself, but relationships I need to guide and sustain me through the misplaced times. When I look and open myself to them, I find that being Penelope on the beach can actually be faith building and fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thinking is a Dangerous Sport

I'm thinking about thinking. I know, a deep subject. But, not to fear, I don't have that kind of energy tonight. I have had the evening to myself and all night I kept thinking, what should I be thinking about?

My evening started with a run. Podding along was more like it. There are times when running feels fantastic. Tonight was not one of them. I'm trying to get off some recently gained weight and every step felt - wrong and frankly it hurt. I think a new machine at the club is doing a number on my hamstrings and gluts.

I like to think when I jog so I plotted my course and turn around point, checked the time and took off. What did I think about? Too much thought was processing the work day, resolving situations and making to do lists. I should think about writing. People came to mind for prayer. A friend just diagnosed with cancer, another getting married soon, my brother. I should think about developing that character. But it seems so easy not to think about all that writing stuff.

I passed one of my distance markers, Why is my time off with my distance? Realization hit with a breathless gasp. I set the wrong turn around point and ran a mile farther than I wanted and I was still a mile from home! I was NOT pleased. By then I'm really sore. Something is just weird and more than my hamstrings were aggravated. Ok, there is only one way home. I gotta do this. Think about something and take your mind off running. Think about what? I'm hot, tired, in pain. Think about. . . plot. Is my right foot tingling? I can't think about anything but surviving.

I made it home. I survived!

Now, I'm trying to find something of value out of all that torture. And I'm thinking. My thoughts are mine right? Or is that really what I want - my thoughts? Verses jump to mind. Set your mind on things above. Take every thought captive. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. How can I make my thoughts more valuable? More productive? More intentional? More creative? More INSPIRED!

Ah, that's what I want. Inspiration.
The easy path instead of the long, torturous, only-one-way-to-get-there run.

I set out tonight with a goal. It was way harder to reach than I wanted it to be. Truthfully, I still have pain shooting up the back of my right leg. The course was farther than I planned and once committed, there was no turning back to make it easier. I'm thinking I didn't really want a life lesson tonight. But thinking got me one.

Now I'm thinking about validation and confirmation. Like hoping that tomorrow will bring a lower number on the scale. Hey, all that agony should produce some positive results. That's only fair! When we set a goal, confirmation is a reasonable expectation isn't it? I think so.

How does a person maximize thoughts? I would love to maximize observation, understanding, creativity, INSPIRATION. I think I need to study thinking verses. I bet there's more to it. After all, our thoughts are not His thoughts.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Choice

My Mother's Day weekend seems to have a theme. Every once in a while I will get on a kick about something and then everything seems to relate to, or if it is a sad theme, compound the issue.

Friday night my daughter was honored at school for being in the top 10% of her class. Amazing! I'm so proud of her. There was a nice dinner and then a program where the awards were presented to the students by their parents and each family had their picture taken. The seventh grade started and I listened to announcements of the parents names and watched the proud smiles for the camera. Eight grade came then ninth. Parents and student, parents and student. Time for tenth grade to line up. More proud parents and student. Then my daughter was called and I was announced as her parent. Out of nearly 50 students, I think there was only one other student who had Dad, Stepmom and Mom. I was the only single parent.

It was a bittersweet evening. On one hand, my heart was bursting with pride at seeing my daughter excel and thrive in school. She is becoming the most amazing, beautiful young lady who really has a heart for God. Nothing gets better than that!

On the other, I couldn't help but think about loss. Does she ever feel it too? She has never known what it is like to have a father close by and consistently be here. Because he lives several states away, she sees him about two weeks a year.

As a small child, she would try to figure out who her dad was and whether any friends of mine might become her dad. It was all too confusing for her and heartbreaking for me. Consistency and stability were more important so I decided men were going to have to go. A dozen years later and edging closer to sending her out into the world, I pause. There are moments when the ach of that decision can pierce a tired heart.

Last night I watched Becoming Jane. A lovely movie based on the real life of the famous author Jane Austin. Jane was poor, without class distinction and without connection in a society where money and connection were everything. She also had the unfortunate lot of being a woman of skill in a society when skill was reserved for men and scorned in women. Her story leaves me haunted, mournful. Jane made a choice.

Financial salvation of her family was the burden forced upon Jane through the marraige proposal of a rich, but unloved suiter. Jane and a man of questionable character, who was controlled by the need to inherit his uncle's estate and an allowance to support his family fell in love. Denied permission by all, they chose to elope. Scandalous and a sure ruin of all future hopes through connection.

Not long into their journey, Jane comes to a moment of truth. Their denial of duty to family and neglecting the reality of social expectations would eventually overcome even their intense love and bring death without hope. Jane chose for both of them. She forsook the rightness of love given and chose the rightness of faithful duty. It was still a choice of love.

She never married. The man she loved did and went on to become the highest ranking judge in Ireland. He named his first daughter Jane.

Jane Austin wrote six novels that changed literature and story craft forever. Her choice became an exquisite legacy.

My choice is a choice of love. I am watching the legacy of that choice develop before me. If I get nothing else in my life than to be a part of bringing a beautiful woman of God to full maturity, I will still know I made the right choice.

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. Psalm 25:12

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 3

1. My bible study ladies gave me the most fantastic surprise. I thought I was meeting a friend for dinner and when I walked into the restaurant there were about 15 smiling faces sitting there singing happy birthday. It was such a fun and wonderful time. We shared laughs and stories and connected. It was just what we all needed and they made me feel very special. Thank you again.

2. Well, I didn't win the KLOVE cruise. Bummer. I hope to take the cruise someday, but I guess I'll have to do it the old fashioned way and save the money. God is still awesome.

3. Does anyone want to adopt a cat? I feel really guilty, well, not. She has started misbehaving. ie. she sometimes thinks the living room is a litter box. I put some mousetraps down in the spot, but I'm afraid she will just pick another place. Does anyone have suggestions to correct the problem? My daughter would love you for the help. Even as I'm typing this, Calie is asleep in her favorite basket blistfully snoring. How funny. She has no idea of my devious plans.

4. Ok. I lied on my drivers test about my weight. I'm sorry. I did weigh that recently, just not now. Hopefully I will get there again soon.

5. I began my day by listing to people call in to my favorite radio station and talk about the latest flu outbreak. It is very discouraging. Can I give you some information from the other side of the issue. First, I do NOT want to make light of the people who have lost their life, that is a tragedy.
  • We are pig farmers. My family has been raising pigs since 1895. Our business is built on hard work, honesty and persistence.
  • The flu outbreak is being called swine flu, but no hogs anywhere in the world, including Mexico have been found with H1N1 in relation to the infection of people. It simply is not happening from pigs. It is a people-to-people problem.
  • This mutated virus is a combination of H1N1, Avian (bird) and human virus.
  • The agriculture industry, including crop and livestock farmers, has been reeling from economic blows for 18 months. First, there were exorbitant prices from the alternative fuel policy that were more than some farmers could stand. Second, the worldwide economic downturn forced even more out of business and many who survived are on fragile financial standing. Third, this mistaken name pinned on the flu outbreak has caused another economic devastation in our industry.
  • It may mean strike three for many more. Economists on reports today are estimating that possibly up to a third of pork producers will lose their economic fight.
  • I don't have crop reports, but I know their markets are down. To many, a market price may simply be a passing numer on a news cast, but to us it is our paycheck.

6. Farmers have not gotten into this position because of risky mortgages, fraud, speculation or greed. We have been trying to make an honest living. In Washington, it seems we are invisible and of no consequence. We feed the world. We feed you.

7. When you sit down to your meal tonight, will you please pray for all the people involved who brought you your food. We need your prayers.

I'll get off my soap box now. For lighter takes, visit Conversation Diary.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 2

1. At work today we told one our our employees he could go home early. A little surprised, he said maybe he would go get a pedicure. Then laughing he said he didn't even really know what they were. He is kind of a scruffy looking dude. I thought it was a good moment to join in the fun so I mentioned a time when I walked past a salon at a shopping mall and saw a man getting his brows waxed.

To which our employee replied. "Oh, man I need to get that done. That last time they did it, I looked like I was surprised for a week." He even added a dramatization. Needless to say I turned back to my work quickly and will never assume anything about a man's personal care regime.

2. I heard this week that the last remaining survivor of the Titanic was auctioning her items from the ship to pay for nursing home bills. She was nine weeks old when the ship went down. This is the second time she has had to auction Titanic items and hopes to make $50,000.00. I went through the Titanic museum last fall in Branson, MO. They devoted the last room to the making of the movie. I googled the movie and this is the amount one site reported for worldwide revenue. $1,842,879,955.00 You would think someone involved in that ginormous sum could help her.

3. We have a very difficult situation in my family that seems to have no quick or positive resolution. It is really hard for everyone and deteriorating. I was thrown unexpectedly into the center of it yesterday. I prayed. I tried to be an objective mediator. I tried speak truth to the spiritual battle that is going on and express God's desire for a relationship with them. The more I said the angrier they became. My words were twisted to be what they wanted me to say. It was horrible. I was very frustrated and discouraged. No wonder I felt drawn to read Psalms this morning. Stand in the attack. Stand for truth.

4. The crab apple tree across from my office window is in full bloom. It is a snow crab and is living up to its name. Beautiful work God!

5. My daughter played a piano solo yesterday at District Music Contest. Because of rules about having only original music (no copies), she had to play from memory. She was really afraid she would just go blank and not remember her music. It was a great opportunity to pray together, share a verse about fear and watch God help her do fantastic. She got the highest score. You go girl! Today is a hard marimba solo.

6. I have to renew my drivers license this month. I'm stalling. I know what I want to tell them my weight is and I don't want to lie. Can anyone relate? A friend once joked that she thought they meant our goal weight, not our actual weight. Ok, I'll ask forgiveness now and try to make it the truth by next week. Well, the closer I get to it the smaller the lie. Right?

7. I have wanted to take the KLOVE cruise for years. I mean really, really wanted. They are running a contest to give away a free cruise for two. Last weekend I prayed that God would allow me to be the 10th caller and guess what, He did! I'm a finalist for the cruise giveaway. YEAH! Now I'm trying to courageous enough to pray that he bless me with the cruise. There is no way I can afford it. It feels selfish to pray that. Especially since I have found out two other people right here in little ol' Nebraska are finalists also. Wierd. Why is it hard to sometimes pray for extra special blessings? God wants to shower with his richness doesn't he? It just feels so undeserved. But then again, isn't that what grace is about?

Visit Conversation Diary to read more interesting quick takes.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The drink that got the best of me

It's Saturday night. Late. The day has been long and hard. Working most of 12 hours to reclaim my house to the side of law, order and cleanliness. Scrubbing evidence of weekly grime from my floor was the last stop on my beat. I filed my report "I quit" at 8:00 p.m. Exhausted, I fall to the sofa and try to remove the memories of my shift. Sights no household should have to endure.

The drone of the newscast is now finished. I know sleep is still far off. Something to relax is what I need. Coffee? Negative. Hot Chocolate? That's the ticket.

I put water on to boil as I ready to retire. At the siren of the teapot, I pour my cup and stir while turning lights out and placing the phone in its cell. In the dark I hear the crash. The cup hits the counter and hot contents explode to freedom. What's a cleaning cop to do?

"Blessed be the Lord," I exclaim. Lights turn on for inspection. It's dismal destruction of a good scrub job. I apprehend cleaning rags and towels and re-clean my clean floor. More hot chocolate? Why not, it will take more than that to make me surrender. I use a different strategy.

I pour my cup with milk and hit 2 minutes on the microwave while I shine the last of the mess. The timer goes and I tear open the chocolate pouch and start to pour. The pouch escapes my grasp dumping chocolate mix on the cup, counter and floor.

"Oh my gosh," I cry. This situation is borderline riotous. But any seasoned veteran knows to keep a cool head. Undaunted, I stir in the remaining mix, pop the cup in the microwave for another 30 seconds and head for the vacuum. I wisely deduce this will be quicker on dry powder. Yes, but the vacuum couldn't handle the mini marshmallows and I had to take it apart to use the nozzle. As I secure my weapon back in the closet, I look forward to my victory and comforting warm drink.

I open the door of the microwave and discover another crime scene. I nuked it too long and the milk boiled over. I observe my cup resting in a pool of chocolate. With the slump of a beat-weary cop, I scrub the plate and carry the criminal to the reporting room. I surrender. As good as this drink tastes, it really got the best of me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quick Takes - Take One

-=> 1 <=-

God keeps reminding that I need more patience and empathy. Recently there are situations when I seem to have less tolerance and I am wrong. I am typically patient and sympathetic to the point that I often embarrass my daughter with quickly shed tears. But it is wrong of me to put my desire to look forward and need to move ahead on others as their only right course. There were times in my life, when I couldn’t move on. I still needed love. There were times when problems so overwhelmed that I could not see beyond them. I still needed understanding. I'll work on this. I’m sure God will provide me the opportunity.

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Is it taking stretching the dollar too far when I intentionally use less toilet paper? And no, I don’t count the squares.

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Monday’s food journal. (The day after two huge Easter meals.)
Breakfast: Vanilla pudding cherry cake dessert from Easter.
Morning snack: Chocolate and a donut
Lunch: Carrot cake
Afternoon snack: Lots more chocolate
Dinner: Cake and punch
Evening snack: Salted peanuts and probably more chocolate.

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God prepares. I know it, I’ve experienced it. I’ll post more on this soon.

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I was deciding where to grab something to eat when I drove past KFC and they had a new sign. Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Sounded good. I pulled up to the drive thru order menu and asked for chicken only. I never get the sides; too loaded with calories. Please don’t hold #3 against me. The girl took my order and I pulled ahead. The drive through window opened, a teenage boy leaned out looked right at me and said, “Grilled breast”. That’s just WRONG.

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I get very frustrated after sitting at a computer all day to come home and not be able to figure out how to do some tech thing. I just want to get it done and not waste time! I haven’t been on windows vista and mail very long and I can’t even find my problems in their help center. I just want someone to do it for me. Send me the geek squad.

-=> 7 <=-

I love LOST. The “island” is all about unfinished business from the past and how it affects each person. They have to face hard things about their past and reconcile them for today. I can see a lot of Christian applications. However, I don’t like it that now they have a guy who can communicate with the dead. It is really out there. I saw a reference to God on a blackboard in the last show. I mostly like LOST because it stretches my tiny little brain cells to figure out all the connections, because everything is connected. I like the challenge.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Holy Alphabet

I received this in an email recently. It is so good I want to share.

Although things are not perfect

Because of trial or pain

Continue in thanksgiving

Do not begin to blame

Even when the times are hard

Fierce winds are bound to blow

God is forever able

Hold on to what you know

Imagine life without His love

Joy would cease to be

Keep thanking Him for all the things

Love imparts to thee

Move out of 'Camp Complaining'

No weapon that is known

On earth can yield the power

Praise can do alone

Quit looking at the future

Redeem the time at hand

Start every day with worship

To 'thank' is a command

Until we see Him coming

Victorious in the sky

We'll run the race with gratitude

Xalting God most high

Yes, there'll be good times and yes some will be bad, but...

Zion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coulda Shoulda

I had a meeting today at work. We have had tons of them lately. You know, the economy and all. We are intensely analyzing, planning and strategizing. Tough stuff. The funny thing about lending insight to our business is that it invariably comes home to roost. Irritating. Take my latest word of encouragement, and I’m using that term loosely, to this contribution to the meeting.

“Maybe we should have done this last year when the advice came through. We could have done that instead and maybe things would be easier now.” Heads nodded in understanding and talk moved on. Was I the only one who really heard what was said? Oh, gentle woman that I am I couldn’t let that pass unnoticed.

“Wait, let’s go back to that point. We could have? We should have? We need to be saying we have and we will. It is too important to our future. We can’t overanalyze ourselves to indecision. It’s time for action. Of course we might make some mistakes, but never making a decision and taking action is almost always wrong.”

Now I haunt myself. I’m the nag at the back of my own mind. I am a Coulda Shoulda pile of inactivity. And it’s too important to my future. There are things I want to do and be and ways I hope God can use me. Much of that seems to be lost in inertia. Huh? Why did I pick that word? It is not common to my vocabulary.

Inertia: Medicine/Medical. lack of activity, esp. as applied to a uterus during childbirth when its contractions have decreased or stopped. From

Facinating. I’ve been fervently praying for direction and a more clear understanding of God’s call and desire for my life. Now God plops a word in my mind that relates to the process of birth coming to a stop. I’m staring at these words and all I can think is. That’s scary. The last thing I want is to stop growing. He wants me to be more for Him. Renewed. Reborn. Is God trying to bring something to life that I am holding back with my inertia?

The journey of the Israelites is a great example. They were promised so much, but they didn’t have the faith and gumption to walk in and receive God’s gift in the promised land. Their lack of acting on God’s promises led to disbelief, sin and eventually forfeiting the life they could have had. Although God was rightfully just to put me in the wilderness, he is also faithful to restore. There is no better preparation for the heart than the wilderness. I want to be more for Him. How do I move from Coulda Shoulda to I Have I Will? How do I move from inertia to birth a new life?

Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness. Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed. Isaiah 40:3-5

That takes work. Plain and simple. Preparing the way in my heart for God takes the effort of laying down my will and my humanness. It takes picking up the spiritual shovel and putting in some back breaking, sweat producing exertion. Everything in me must be placed on God’s scale. Anything that doesn’t measure up? Gone. Ouch!

Maybe I can’t work past my Coulda Shoulda inertia until I absolutely believe the other side of the river truly is better. It is promised. What is it worth?

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold I will do something new. Now it will spring forth: Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Isaiah 44:3.

This is a promise and declaration to Israel. Quit treading in the sea of regret. Yeah, I could have and should have done a lot of things. But I didn’t. No surprise to God. Now he urges me to look forward. Be aware of the new life he is sprouting. God spent 40 years displaying his protection and miracles in ways we haven’t seen since. The “something new” is a miracle so much more magnificent than any previous; the people will completely forget what happened in the past. I have and I will.

Commit thy way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dandelion Gift

Heavy. That’s how I feel tonight. And I’m not talking about my scale although that isn’t too kind these days. I sift through feelings and contemplate. Is it right for a Christian to feel such heaviness? Just last night at bible study I commented that we live with joy. As Christians, it isn’t the life of can’t have and can’t do. Ours is the life of satisfying joy while choosing to do without much of what the world sees as fulfilling. Immediately a tug in the back of my mind whispered, take heed, I will have to prove those words.

So today, I’m struggling with heaviness. The monster that has been lurking for months is ready for attack. Sometimes it feels like life is all about can’t haves and can’t dos. Monstrous problems are in operation takeaway just like the stripping locusts. Where will I stand if all I see is can’t?

Prayer. Praise. Recalling promises. Sometimes these are done through hardened jaw, steeled eyes and sheer grit. Tonight it is a sacrifice, without much joy. I know the promises are no less true just because I feel heavy. Is that an honorable sacrifice?

Our study leader talked about when her children were little and they proudly brought her a gift of a dandelion from the yard. To them it was precious and beautiful. Her wiser eyes saw the weed it is. Her loving eyes acknowledged love in the weedy bouquet. When I bring gifts of praise, obedience and love to God, does He see my gift as genuine and precious?

Tonight I present my weedy bouquet. I give what I can. God understands.