My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, March 31, 2011

finding your common denominator

Social media has given us the opportunity to observe our friends more carefully... at least through their status updates and relationship changes and photos. A quick scan of my news feed has replaced phone calls... just as phone calls replaced the coffee klatch...There was a time as a young mommy that I would start my day with a coffee klatch every day. There were a group of about five of us who were stay at home moms with kids in elementary school and middle school... who also had preschoolers at home... we would drop the big kids off and then stop off at our friend Laura's house for a cup of coffee before going on with our day. We would catch up on all the local gossip over a cup of coffee every morning. That was fifteen years ago... and I can't imagine the same thing happening today.

Now, because we get our updates in a general, random sense, we don't always ask questions and learn all the details about situations and circumstances... I always say that in the absence of information, I tend to make stuff up... I try to prevent myself from making assumptions but... sometimes you just can't help yourself, you know?

In the past month there have been a couple of my friends whose lives seem to be on fast forward... where they meet someone and then get super serious in lightning speed. And... because I don't have all the details, I may be making some unfair assumptions. I do believe in love... I know sometimes I come across as a bit jaded on the whole happily ever after thing because it hasn't really been MY experience... but I still believe in what Carrie Bradshaw called, "real love... ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't live without each other love". I know it happens. I also know that you can't know everything about somebody in a split second. You don't "fall" in love. You grow in love.

For me... the hard, cold, stark truth of the matter is that in all of my failed relationships there has been only one common denominator: me. And while I can certainly make the case that there were extenuating circumstances that the other people brought to the table that made continuing a relationship with them impossible... you can't escape the fact that I picked these people. I bought what they were selling... and for that matter... I sold what they were buying.

It's not that I haven't forgiven myself - I have. But I pray that I never forget MY lack of caution and MY haste in moving forward in a way that was ill-advised. Everybody presents themselves in their best light at the beginning of a relationship. You can maintain that facade for a time but eventually, the glossy exterior is peeled away. It takes time to get to the heart of a person.

For instance... Red Flag Guy... went from picnicking with me at the beginning of November to being married at the beginning of March. There's just no way you know someone well enough in four months to commit to them for the rest of your life. Maybe you take those kind of risks when you're young... youthful indiscretions... but when you're a parent of two kids whose lives have already been turned upside down by the loss of their just have to go slower. I pray for their family daily and I am believing the best for them but...from what I can see, it was too fast.

Although, I've gotta tell you, it was a huge validation for me of how God is protecting me from myself these days. Had we ignored those big red flags - and trust me, I tried to - I would have been on that kind of fast track because apparently, that's what he was looking for, instant family. I'm not able to do that. I have to be cautious. Even if everything had clicked, I would have still had doubts because of my history. I would have been denying my true feelings and inner fears had I gotten on that bullet train.

Barry used to always tell me that you don't heal from a bad relationship with a new relationship. You have to take time to process things. Look at it this way: if you had just gotten back from a three month tour of Europe, you wouldn't come home and just stuff more clothes on top of all the dirty clothes in your suitcases and leave right back out on another three month vacation, would you? You'd want time to empty your suitcase... go through your souvenirs, wash and repack carefully. It's the same way in relationships. You have to get rid of the old baggage before you pick up new baggage. You have to recognize what your common denominator is in all of your failed relationships. Where did YOU go wrong?

I'll be completely honest with you and tell you that I believe that it's not God's will for me to be in a relationship at this time in my life, if ever. I know that I lose myself in relationships. I know that I very quickly adapt to what the other person is looking for instead of presenting who I truly am. In my effort to be a "people pleaser" I cease to please God. It's deceptive. It's bait and switch. And while my fairy tale, "happily ever after" side wants to believe that he's gonna love me so much that he's gonna love every incarnation of me... it's not fair to either of us for me to be anyone other than who I really am. Maybe I have a right to expect unconditional love... because we do evolve and change over the course of our lives... but the common denominator in my life is that I haven't chosen the kind of people who are that accepting and gracious.

And I guess that's what I would say to any of my friends who are leaning on the fast forward button: be true to yourself, be true to your partner... make sure you've taken time to unpack before you head out on another trip.

This week is speeding by. It hasn't been an easy week for me, largely because I didn't have time to decompress over the weekend. There's no avoiding the reality that for me to work a forty hour work week, I have to have time to take the pressure off my spine in the evenings and on the weekend. It's narrowing my world down to just my nest and my office ... for now... but hopefully that will change soon. This past weekend was a reality check for me. I can't spend that kind of time behind the wheel, sitting at restaurants, sitting on hard metal benches, etc... and expect to have any quality of life during the next week. And it's not the surface as much as it is the angle... where the vertebrae slip and compress the bulging discs and pinch off the nerves, if I'm at a 90 degree angle to sit for too much of the time, the pain is just unbearable. Likewise... standing up straight is painful. Walking is painful. Etc. So this weekend I will be a nest dwelling hermit again in the hopes of getting some relief.

This thankful Thursday I'm grateful for the ability to gain some clarity on my own life by observing the lives of others... I'm grateful that I'm learning from my past... I'm thankful to be able to take a step back and evaluate... I'm glad that I don't have to learn those painful lessons again, for the rest of my life I can benefit from what I have already learned by trial and error. As long as I keep my wits about me... and as long as I depend on the Lord for guidance... I WILL have a happily ever after... even if it doesn't include a Prince Charming!

Have a great day, y'all!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

worldly Wednesday

Yesterday I went to Walmart on lunch. This is significant because I jealously guard my midday break for resting my back so that I can make it through the rest of the workday... and because I really don't like the tiny little Walmart that is right around the corner from my office. They're building a new one a mile down the road, maybe I'll like it better. At any rate... at some point in my travels over the weekend I managed to lose my cellphone charger. No worries... I thought... I'll just pop into Walmart and pick up a new one. Except... this little "wannabe a Walmart when it grows up" didn't have my charger. The nice man who helped me look said it would be hard to find. Great.

So for now, I don't have a cellphone. I plan to spend my lunch hour TODAY going to Radioshack to see if they have it. If not. I guess I'm gonna have to hit to see if I can find it there. I'm usually far more careful about keeping my stuff together. I blame the pain. It's diminished my ability to think clearly.

I said all of that to introduce my topic for today... I finished at Walmart in a few brief minutes and headed to my favorite lunch spot overlooking the Piedmont College baseball field. It's secluded but not so isolated that I could be abducted. It's quiet. It's in a very scenic spot. I can hear the chapel bell chime the quarter hour which helps me keep track of time without staring at a clock. It's on a little ridge so even on the hottest day it catches a nice breeze... and... it overlooks the baseball field which brings back sweet memories of thousands of baseball practices and games with my Cody.

Lately I've had a real hunger for spiritual things. I've wanted to spend more time in prayer (yes, Lyn, I pray a lot... I need a lot of prayer, you see!) I've needed verses of comfort. I've been searching to strengthen my faith. I reached a point where I needed to really feel God's presence. I've always had a childlike faith... lately I've been seeking a grown up faith. I need to be able to speak with more confidence about what I believe because the deeper my faith grows, the more people want to challenge it... and I need to have the answers... beyond "well... you know... it's... just what I believe"... WHY do I believe? And to be honest... I think the harder the hits we take in this world, the harder it becomes to believe in a loving, benevolent God. Those trials either make you draw closer to Him, or make you doubt Him. I'm determined to draw closer.

I was reading the 11th chapter of Hebrews... commonly called the Hall of Faith. It's a list of Biblical characters who were bold in their faith. Then it moves on to the 12th chapter which says, "Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses..." I heard a preacher say once... whenever you see a "therefore" in the Bible, you need to figure out what it's "there for"... and obviously (to me at least) the therefore is there for you to look back at these examples and realize that living in faith brings a reward that doesn't always come here on earth... which led me to a train of thought about how deeply I am in love with this world.

Think about it. When someone passes away ... do you feel sorry for them that their life has ended, regardless of your beliefs about Heaven or Hell? I do. My best example is Misty, my former stepson's mother who tragically passed away at the age of 35, leaving behind three children... a 9 year old... a two year old... and a nine day old baby. I grieve (still, present tense) for all the things that Misty is MISSING here on earth... without really thinking of the eternal life that *I believe* she has attained. I never really managed to embrace what amazing influence she has over on the other side. In her Earthly state, she had minimal influence on the circumstances of her kids' lives. I think her real strength lies in what lies beyond.

And for myself... I fear dying because I fear what I might miss out on. I love my life. Yes... it's pain filled and sometimes lonely but I love it. I love the flavors, sights, smells, pleasures... I'm in love with my world. Yet... if I really believe what I say I believe, wouldn't I set my sights on the promise of the ultimate reward? I'm not saying I should want to die... don't misunderstand me here... I'm just saying that I'm so caught up with worldly pleasures that I'm not looking forward to what's to come.

This becomes even more timely if you believe in the signs of the times... the unrest in the middle east... the increase of natural disasters... the wickedness of this present generation that very closely resembles the attitudes as it was in the times of Noah, before the great flood. If you believe that the time of Christ's return is imminent... do you eagerly anticipate His return? Or do you FEAR being left behind... or have fears for the people you love who could be left behind?

In a way... it's like my retirement fund which is terribly anemic. I just haven't had the means to save for the future. What I have wouldn't carry me through a whole year and I'm - theoretically - barely 25 years from retirement. Likewise, I haven't saved up treasures in Heaven for myself. I haven't done enough. It's not enough to think about what happens should I survive to the ripe old ages that the women on both sides of my family typically do... I have to think about what happens when my time on Earth is over, whether that's next week or in the year 2058.

I'm barely prepared for the upcoming month... much less for eternity. I keep tripping through life, flitting (as a previous spouse would commonly say) from flower to flower like a butterfly... without a care in the world... and although I think that carefree part of my personality is a gift from God... I think it's time for me to think about what happens next.

Changing gears but not changing subjects... do you ever think about what people see over on the other side? Do you ever think that maybe they grieve for us, for the struggles of this world that they never again have to face? I truly believe that the "great cloud of witnesses" are seated in some Heavenly stadium, watching us "run the race" and cheering us on. And from that perspective... the more you've lost here on Earth, the more you've gained in Heaven... and from THAT perspective, if you really believe that there is life after death and you know that your loved ones were Godly people and therefore inhabiting Heaven... wouldn't you want to make sure you've punched your ticket?

I had an interesting conversation with Austin on Sunday night after he went to bible study. He said they had talked about the deadly sins... and I said, "I don't believe that any sin is unforgiveable... because of Jesus' death on the cross, we can ask forgiveness for anything. So from that perspective, there are no deadly sins" And Austin said, "there is ONE deadly sin... unbelief". Wow. What deep theological understanding from someone who... you would think doesn't really get it. No matter how badly I mess up in this present world... as long as I BELIEVE... there is always going to be forgiveness available.

I've rambled on long enough. I hope I've given you a few things to think about today and I hope you'll share your thoughts with me. It's a stormy day here in North Georgia. I haven't managed to get away from the pain in the past several days and it's wearing on me. We'll be shorthanded at work for the rest of the week so I don't have the luxury of checking out or leaving early. I've got to just hang tough... prayers, encouragement and positive thoughts are appreciated. Hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday!

love and hugs!

--------------- I'm adding my dad's comments because they were so encouraging to me... he can't post from work.

In regards to your blog the morning (our access to respond is blocked by ING), I would ask what "treasures:in heaven" are? We know it is not intrinsic stuff (gold, silver, etc.) - God uses that for building materials. Could it be relationships? Didn't Jesus value people more than anything else? I think so. I believe that is why His command to His disciples was to love one another. I believe that is why His commission to His disciples is to "teach all nations". So how does one set about fulfilling those instructions? Well, you don't! You just do. You see, the commission says "as you are going" ... which really means that loving and teaching are outcrops of the relationship one has with God. Does that make sense? So... as you are living your life, loving people, sharing the Good News of Jesus in what you say and do, you are storing up treasures in heaven ... and you didn't even realize it. Isn't that a neat thought? Love ya! Pop!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Do you pray?

How do you pray?
Do you have a set routine or do you just send up a "Hail Mary" in a pinch?
We have an admonition to "pray without ceasing"... which... I guess in a literal sense would be difficult since we are required to talk to other people besides God at various times during the day.
Some of my customers would resent my silence, I suppose.
Others truly need a word of prayer.
Do you pray like you speak or do you think that God only speaks King James English.
Sorry. Don't mean to poke fun. But there are so many people that believe that the KJV is the only "holy" version of the bible that I have to wonder if that's how they think they're supposed to communicate with God.
For me... because I believe that God is omnipresent... everywhere... and omniscient... all knowing... I'm pretty sure He speaks every language... even my modern, southern English.
And because I believe that Jesus' death on the cross removed our barrier to God... and that He lives to intercede for us... I believe that I can talk to God just like I talk to you...
And that when I sin... I can ask forgiveness for myself, I don't have to find out what penitence I should pay...
It's a one on one relationship, no other human is required to intercede... no additional blood sacrifice is required to pay for my sin, other than the one that was paid at the cross.
But... I also believe that when we call upon the name of the Lord, that we do need to be reverent and respectful... just because He's accessible, doesn't mean that He's not holy.
I have built into my day, specific times that I pray. In the shower... as I'm drying my hair... while I'm driving to work.
My drive to work is a bit of a prayer journey every day, with certain landmarks that remind me to pray for certain things.
As I back out of the driveway I express my gratitude for a car that runs, for money to buy gas, for a job to go to, for the ability to work.
As I pass the town square, I pray for my community... for the leaders, for the workers, for the people who make this a special place.
As I pass the college, I pray for my loved ones who work there, I pray for the witness of the college in our community and it's work in our world.
As I pass the home of a guy who disappointed me... I pray for him, his family and all "the guys I've loved before"...
As I pass the storage place where a fellow church member has a realty sign, I pray for her, her family and other ladies in my church.
Then I pray for people who have specifically asked for prayer or prayer needs that have come to my attention... friends who are facing certain trials and tribulations.
And I ask God to bless those who pray for me.
As I pass my nieces' school, I pray for them and other family members.
As I pass the church where my boss attends, I pray for it's ministry in the community.
As I turn on the road where my office is, I pray for my co-workers and for the success of our business.
My lunch hour I pray for things that have happened during that day or things that are weighing heavy on my mind/heart. It's usually when I pray (beg) for the strength to make it through the rest of the day. It's usually when I'm in enough pain that I can't imagine making it through the rest of the day so I pray for health and healing.
On my way home for work I offer praise for the ability to make it through the day. I ask for help in the things I didn't do well... I thank God for the things I have accomplished.
I think it's important not only to talk to God, but also to listen to Him. When I'm still and quiet, as I'm thinking my prayers to Him, there are scriptures that will pop into my mind. There are times that I "hear" responses to my requests. There are times that I will start to pray from an anxious heart and when I'm finished... I will no longer be anxious.
The prayers of a righteous person avails much... (paraphrased)... so I feel like I need to be righteous so that my prayers are effective. Otherwise, they're just wishes/daydreaming/thoughts.
I want my prayers to be effective.
I also think the discipline to meditate in that way helps me be positive, calm, enthusiastic, etc.
I'm curious about your prayer habits... if you feel like sharing...
And I hope you have an awesome Tuesday!
love and hugs!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Over a hundred reasons to love Monday !

As I mentioned, my mom and her siblings got together yesterday for the first time since 2005. There are - by my count - over a hundred family members now in our extended family. Mama was one of seven kids... there are 24 grandkids... 41 great-grandkids.... and *I think* there are three great-great grandkids now. Add in spouses and you've got a whole bunch of people. I didn't count heads yesterday but looking over the family tree I compiled yesterday, I think about 52 of those people were there.

And I should point out that we're neither Catholic nor Mormon... just a big family. Of course, one time Grandma was talking about the fact that the middle child, Uncle John, was spaced furthest apart from his siblings... I asked, "Was that intentional?" and she laughed and said, "Back then you just got what you got"... oh yeah... that would have been before the Contraceptive Age. We had a good laugh together.

My mama and her siblingsThey are arranged in chronological order... front row is Uncle Al, Uncle Bill, Uncle David, Uncle John... back row is Aunt Ginger, Mama, Aunt Linda.

As usual... I uploaded photos in no logical order...
This is my Aunt Ginger with her older daughter, Christie, Christie's husband Nathan, their baby Cole and my cousin Amanda's son Rowan...

Christie is expecting a baby... don't know yet if it's a girl or a boy...
This is a mass of cousins... my Aunt Linda's three sons, my brother Jim and Cousin Christie..
and of course this is my Cody... and daughter in law Marquee...
We thought this was hilarious... looks like that cellphone commercial...
more cousin pics...
I spent some time with my cousin Rik figuring out who was who in his family. His sister Tammy (far right, in the pink) is the oldest grandchild... I'm gonna try to name these folks while my memory is fresh... Uncle Bill is the one wearing the hat... beside him is Aunt Connie, My cousin Rik's wife Vanessa... then Rik, his son Erik, Cousin Tammy and her husband Jim.. then the front row is Tammy's daughters Jennifer and Hannah, Rik's son Chase, and Rik's daughters Rachel and Mikalia
This is just a fraction of our family... I think you know most of us ... my three younger brothers and their families were not there.

My favorite photo and it's a bit out of focus... Driving down on Saturday was fine for me, pain wise but yesterday I started the day in pain and by the time I spent two hours sitting on the hard metal picnic benches, I was in agony... with the drive home still ahead. Somehow... I managed to forget my bag with all my clothes, makeup, meds, laptop... everything... at my parents house. I remembered when we were about 45 minutes from their house. I called Jim and he had left but was much closer so they went back and got my stuff.

Ironically... Austin wanted to hurry home to be home in time for bible study and Sarabeth was in a hurry to get home for children's choir. I know that my grandparents, who were strong people of faith, had to appreciate the fact that two of their greats wanted to split the reunion in order to be on time for church.

The last reunion we had was fun but a lot of my generation didn't come. I hope we can do this more often so that the cousins will get to know each other better. If we're going to keep our extended family together, we've got to know each other... and our kids need to know each other...

It's storming outside... I'm feeling really ick... muscle spasms on the right side, shooting pains on the left... long day ahead... but I'll make it.

For me... my reasons to love Monday this week... there are over a hundred of them... my extended Pennington kin...

Al, Edna, Melissa, Dixie, Greg, Sheila, Joey, Karson, Cameron, Mack, Bill, Connie, Tammy, Jim, Pam, Brandon, Hannah, Jennifer, Lisa, Tim, Tim Jr, Jazzy, Rik, Vanessa, Misty, Rachel, Erik, Ivan, Mikalia, Chase, David, Lennie, Vernon, Corinna, Donald, Paula, Steven, Shelby, Tim, Jill, Ansley, Denise, Cory, Evey, Ewon, John Wayne, John, Gerri, Matthew, Jeremy, Andreea, Jason, Krista, A.J., Arielle, Ginger, Carl, Christie, Nathan, Cole, Amanda, Derrick, Austin, Rowan, Mom, Dad, Jim, Angie, Sarabeth, Jamie, Ryan, Cody, Marquee, Austin, Michael, Mechelle, Tiffany, Shaun, Ethan James, Cory, Matthew, Bryan, Candice, David, Katherine, Elizabeth, Caleb, Madie, Joshua, Linda, Charles, Andrew, Lynn, Micah, Joshua, Dane, Kevin, Tobie, Devyn, Sydney, Russell, Dawn, Charlie...

And I'm sure I missed a few, misspelled a few, etc... but for the most part... these are the people who descended from C.B and Flossie Pennington.

Hope no matter what size your family is... no matter what the weather is... I hope you find your own reasons to love Monday this week!
love and hugs!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reunion Sunday

the family homestead... my parents house on the left... Cody and Marquee's house on the right. As usual... my mom's car is parked in Cody's driveway because any chance he gets, he prefers to drive hers!

the front of their little house... it's really cute inside...
dinner last night at O'Charley's with Cody and Marquee
random spring color shot... loved the vivid purple of this tree against the bright blue sky. I normally adjust color in my pictures - or increase light or whatever, but this is exactly as it looked in real life! I love spring! (sorry for the run-on paragraph... I tried several times to separate the paragraphs and it kept defaulting to one big blob...)

We traveled to the Southside of Atlanta yesterday through much rain and much pain to be here for my mom's family reunion. Actually, if I'm totally honest... the drive wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. We took a break at the halfway mark and made decent time, despite some traffic and minor flooding on I-75 in Atlanta. (clean out the storm drains, already!) I was able to have dinner with Cody and Marquee and since my fabulous daughter in law has recently had her 21st birthday, and since Cody was driving, she and I enjoyed an adult beverage. Don't worry... I was unmedicated so it couldn't affect me any more than usual. We had a nice dinner... bad service... but good food. Then we went back to their house to hang out and watch tv. I don't get a lot of time with those two so it was a real treat. I slept better than I usually do away from home... despite the horrible storms we had over night (or maybe because of them)... didn't wake up until after 7 and the coffee was already waiting. Not as strong as I make... but still good. Had breakfast at IHop in Riverdale with Austin, Cody and Marquee. Ate too much but I've counted all my points. Looks as though I'll be on a straight fruit and veggie diet for the rest of the week because I will have used up all my extra points before the weekend is out. Unfortunately... the community center where we were going to hold the reunion had a tree fall on it during the storm! Our reunion has been relocated to my Aunt Ginger's house which is nice... but it's going to be a bit more crowded than what the community center would have been. Ok... a lot more crowded. My mom is number 6 of 7 kids born to Clarence Burl Pennington and Virginia Flossie Jackson Pennington. They had four boys.... and then three girls. I'm not sure of the ages of the uncles but my Aunt Ginger was born in January of 1947, mama in September of 1948 and Linda in February of 1950.... three girls in the space of three years... Granddaddy passed away in 1978, Grandma in 1998... but they left behind a huge family. I think there were about two dozen grandkids, the youngest in that generation is in their late twenties so everyone has married and had kids... I couldn't even wager a guess at how many great-grandkids there are now. A lot of my generation won't be there today... I think out of my four brothers, only one is coming... but we are a large family. I'm guessing we'll have 40 or 50 people there... which means seating will be limited and my back is already killing me. Yesterday was a good day for me pain wise but today I feel like my spine is about to explode.... and I won't be back home and comfy in my nest until later this evening... after a two hours drive. Oy. Anyways... got a little time to kill between now and the reunion. I'm going to go to my favorite thrift store down here and pick up a few things... I like to buy pieces that aren't terribly size specific like sweaters and scarves and such. For me, I just like the whole retail therapy aspect at a bargain price. Hope you all have a fabulous Sunday! love and hugs!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

riddle me this... things that make me go "hmmm?"

Pole dancing for Jesus. I was sure I misunderstood what they were saying... but, no... they said it. Pole dancing for Jesus. I googled it. Apparently... it's stripper dancing to Christian music. Anybody want to take a class with me?

Kinetic action? Baffles the mind. Call me small minded... but if you're dropping bombs on somebody, it's war, no matter what you call it. A rose by any other name... and, it didn't take much research... again, a quick google search showed that this term originated with my beloved George W. Bush.

Thank goodness for google. I'd be lost without it. What did we do when we had a question about something before Al Gore invented the internet? I did enjoy my second marriage in one aspect - he was a veritable walking encyclopedia. He knew a lot about a lot. Of course, head knowledge means nothing if you have no heart knowledge.

Of course... I'm happier just using the internet. It doesn't complain if I eat cookies in bed. Which... I don't... anymore. I eat them in my nest.

Stuck with Weight watchers all week, again, still counting and logging my points every single day. Gained five pounds this week. Yep. The plateau is over. In a bad way. How do you gain five pounds on weight watchers? That's some sick meds.

It's raining, it's pouring... I have no idea when the best time to drive down to the southside of town for the family reunion will be. I'm considering this afternoon but it looks like we'll have crazy bad thunderstorms... hail, strong winds... they're sinking from north to south so unless I time it right, I might have horrible storms the whole ride.

I tried to put together a family tree yesterday and realized that I sadly, don't even know the names of all my first cousins... much less their spouses and children. Hopefully I can put together some kind of family directory when all the elders are gathered together tomorrow. In this information age, it should be easy to get everyone connected.

My coffee and oatmeal were awesome this morning. Muscle spasms not so awesome. I think I'm going to have to have a consultation with the pain doctor prior to the next injection and/or prior to my next scheduled follow up on April 29th (my birthday!). The weight gain is not acceptable, especially considering I'm on meds that are not giving me adequate relief from the pain and adding extra weight will only make the back problem worse. What to do?

I love a good thunderstorm... it's really coming down out there... I'm going to have to venture out long enough to pick up some chicken salad to take down to the reunion and to get a sweet treat from the bakery for the reunion. I'm thinking pound cake. Wish I had the baking skills and the inclination to make one myself. My grandma always made good pound cakes. I don't remember her being a great cook, per se, but she make pound cakes and angel food cakes and rhubarb pie.

Purple Michael is an awesome "Martha Stewart" type baker. He made biscotti one year for Christmas. He used to make me a carrot cake with cream cheese icing for my birthday every year. One year we spent my birthday at a bed and breakfast... he brought along my carrot cake AND all the leftover icing. We ate ourselves into a sugar coma. It was so much fun! And the lady who ran the bed and breakfast made all kinds of yummy treats and would leave them in our room OR... you were welcome to help yourself to any in the kitchen. In addition to their open bar... complete with homemade lemonade OR adult beverages... it was probably one of the best weekends of my life. Sitting on the front porch sipping lemonade... gathered around the piano with the other guests while PM tickles the ivories... sweet memories. Wonder if I'll ever be able to duplicate such amazing times? I think... there are still good times to be had.

We had a debate at the office yesterday about Casey Abrams on American Idol and whether or not the save should have been used for him. Here's my thinking... the premise of American Idol is to produce a winner who could be a successful recording artist. If someone is the last choice out of 11... even if they're a talented musician... they're not going to be successful at selling records (or cds, I guess) and filling concert venues. Casey's awesome. He has a niche market. He's not an American Idol. Any opinions?

I finished reading The Shack. It was one of those books that is so good that you close it and just sit and soak it in for a little while. The concept of being able to truly commune with God is such a beautiful thought. I've been sort of opening my mind to a greater understanding of our Greater Power. I've been challenging myself more with being able to explain what I believe and why. Beth Moore's blog this week solicited stories about a moment when her readers knew that God was real... here's a link to the blog, if you're interested

As I was sort of meditating on things... I realized that my approach tends to be one of believing in God, having faith in His goodness and power and mercy and grace... and yet, still respecting that there are people in my life who don't necessarily share my beliefs. My typical disclaimer about my faith is that if I reach the end of my life and find out that nothing I believed in was true, I would still have lived a better life for having had that belief structure.

I've had so many debates about religion that exasperate me... and the reason they exasperate me is for me, it's not about religion... it's about relationship. It's not about theology or parsing out which translation is right, which group of people has discovered the real path to God... for me... it's about having hope... it's about reading an ancient text... and realizing how current and relevant those stories still are. To me, the Bible is the best self-help book ever written. Whether the stories in it are parables, or whether they really happened... it's not for me to debate... it makes no difference. All I know is that for me, they provide strength and encouragement. I know that when I ask God for help, help comes. I know that there have been countless "coincidences" of times when I was in need and hadn't told a living soul, and that help came. I know that there are times that I'll be studying a particular verse and I'll hear a sermon or read a book or go through a circumstance that perfectly fits that verse.

I don't understand gravity but I believe in it.
I can't see the wind but I feel it.
You call it meditation - I call it prayer.
You call it coincidence - I call it providence.
You call it evolution - I call it divine design.
You call it religion - I call it relationship.
You call it Mother Nature - I call it Father God.
You call it outdated - I call it prophetic.
You call it restrictive - I consider it freedom.
You wait until a crisis to call on Him - I need Him every day.
You believe in your wealth and health to sustain you - I am broke and broken but invincible.

I guess it's all about perspective. That's mine. Have a happy Saturday! Love and hugs!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

friday fun...

"You don't look a day over fabulous"

The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who were there first.

"What's with the juju bees on your ooh ooh bees?"

"It's like sitting on the back of an elephant with an iron trying to get out the wrinkles."

"We would like to help you out. Which way did you come in?"

"Confuscious says that crowded elevators smell differently to midgets!!"

If our fans are out there driving down that information superhighway, then we want to be playing at the truck stop. This is the future-so lets get it going.

Just saying no to drugs is like just saying cheer up to a manic depressant.

You got the right key baby, but the wrong keyhole.

Talk to yourself and you'll hear what you want to know.

It's not the COUGH that carries you OFF. . . . It's the COFFIN they carry you OFF IN."

Wanna guess who all of those quotes are from? I'll tell you at the end of this entry.

Last night was a great tv watching night for me... I am really enjoying American Idol this season. My favorite is Lauren Alaina because she's a Peach (a Georgia girl) and because she just has so much moxie for someone her age. She reminds me of Kelly Pickler, except with a little more sense about her. On American Idol, Casey almost got voted off but the judges saved him. It was the most dramatic, over the top episode they've ever had (that I can remember)... included Hulk Hogan, a birthday celebration for Steven Tyler... just lots of goofing off. I enjoyed it.

And then on The Office which is one of my favorite shows EVER... they had just the sweetest episode ever. I could watch it again and again... it made me say, "awwww" out loud. It was that sweet.

It doesn't take much to make me happy... a little time on the internet... some good shows on tv... a warm nest and a little rest.

Friday ALWAYS makes me happy! Blue jeans... weekend ahead... this weekend will be a bit more hectic for me with the family reunion and all... but it's still a weekend.

I'm almost finished reading The Shack. Truly, it has given me a lot to think about. I'm pretty cautious about where I gain my theology but I have really enjoyed imagining what would happen if you could spend a weekend with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We struggle, in our finite, human capacity to comprehend things, to reconcile how a loving, benevolent God could allow bad things to happen in this world. Honestly, The Shack gave me a better understanding of things. I'll recap more over the weekend.

The pollen count is off the charts... I've got a bunch of junk in my lungs... but I don't feel bad.
Yesterday I had more of the searing pain than I did muscle spasms. This morning... it's more muscle spasms. It's exhausting. Hard to explain but... the more pain I'm in, the more peace I have about things. I think that's a God thing... the whole, "when I am weak, He is strong" concept. The less I am able to handle in my own strength, the more He provides.

The local Kiwanis talent show is tonight and I'd like to be able to go and see some of my friends' kids in it... not sure I'll be up to sitting... Sarabeth and Jamie aren't in it this year... I wish they were... I had picked out the CUTEST song for them to sing and had even started teaching it to them... it's a song from the musical Side Show and it's this sweet ballad "I will never leave you... I will never go away... we were meant to share each moment... beside you is where I will stay... ever more and always, we'll be one though we're two... for I will never leave you... "... in the show it's sung by Siamese twins! How cute would it be to make them into Siamese twins? But... my girls, being my girls, whenever I would play that song for them would say, "Can we listen to Castle on a Cloud?"

Praying that child support comes on time... this is a long, stretched out time between paydays for me.

Praying for a pain free day at work.

But... no matter what today brings... it's Friday so no matter how bad it is, it will be better in about 12 hours!

The quotes are from Steven Tyler! There are a lot more that are funny but slightly- ok VERY obscene. He's a witty guy.

Love and hugs, y'all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

thankful thursday

Left work Wednesday afternoon feeling really uncomfortable... but oh, so blessed. There is this unique sense of rightness in my world... this feeling that I fit, that I am where I belong. I have a whole laundry list of things I wish were different... but in the grand scheme of things I am right where I belong. I hope I never take that for granted.

I'm so thankful for cards in the mail... sending and receiving...

I'm thankful for peeps for Jen, Cadbury creme eggs for Holly and redhots for me... little treats that make us happy.

I'm thankful for the awesome grilled fish tacos at El Sombrero... I don't eat out often for lunch but when I need a restaurant lunch instead of a car picnic, it's a perfect HEALTHY alternative.

I'm thankful for the patches of purple and yellow flowers on my commute.

I'm thankful that Austin did the dishes and took out the trash yesterday.

I'm thankful for the theme song to The Office... makes me smile just hearing it.

I'm thankful for my friend Amy in Holly Springs and our inside jokes.

And for my friend Amy (that used to work for my uncle) and the fact that she gets me...

My friend Scott who has been a good friend for a very long time... called yesterday about some insurance stuff and we got to talking about my back problems. Unbeknownst to me... his younger brother committed suicide last May because he had been living with back pain for years and just couldn't go on. He was 37. Yes, I'm weary of the pain but I'm not desperate or hopeless.

By the Grace of God, I don't believe I'll ever again be that kind of hopeless. That's huge to me... to know that there is a purpose and process in my suffering... and to know that these are light and momentary troubles.

I got a call yesterday that jerked me back in time a few years... and it was surreal... to have someone try to talk to me the way they would have talked to the woman I was then... I was practically speechless (and for those who know me in real life, you know that rarely happens). I'm just so glad to be all me, all the time... to never have to apologize for the woman I am... to never have to explain, excuse, hide, live in fear... live with constant anxiety. God has been so good to me. I'm thankful that I found the courage to move away from that bondage... the wisdom to understand that it's better to be single than to be in a marriage where I'm not being treated the way I should be treated. I'm thankful that God has allowed me to find me again.

I'm so glad for the community I live in... for the characters that populate this little corner of the world... thankful for Alisa, Cyndi, Sharon, Angie, Darline, Munner... and the sense of belonging that they give me.

I'm thankful for my online community... the people who prop me up when I'm sinking... for Terri and Robin, blasts from the past, who are faithful to hold me up in prayer... for Linda and Melissa and Jen and Jess and Patty and sweet Monica who emailed me with a lot of good information about the kind of back problems I'm having. I'm thankful for every single comment I get on my blog or in facebook. The feedback you give is such an encouragement to me. I am blessed to know that people care enough or are interested enough to read this blog.

I'm thankful for the pain... for what it is teaching me... for the impact it has/will have on my ability to minister to others. Thankful for health insurance. Thankful for good health care. Thankful I don't live on the third floor any more. I'm thankful for people who understand... and for people who have never lived through it and can't understand but care anyways. I'm thankful for the people who faithfully pray for me. I realized yesterday morning that I didn't have TIME to pray for every single person in my life who I want to intercede for and I think that in itself is a huge, huge blessing... to have a life so full that I couldn't possibly name everyone.

I'm thankful for my 3 legged wondercat and the adoring way he looks at me when I scratch his back. I'm thankful for the time that Bitty was with us. I'm thankful for the comfort and companionship my furbabies bring.

I'm thankful for Red Flag Guy (who just got married... wasn't that fast?) ... and for Next Guy who resurfaced this weekend (but no, I'm not interested in dating him or anyone). I'm thankful that I can trust God to protect me from ever loving the wrong kind of guy again. God has shown me so very clearly over the past six months that He is going to intercede whenever I'm on the wrong path. He is protecting my heart. I'm so thankful for that.

I'm thankful for my nest... for a place to get some rest and relief.

I'm thankful that the Penningtons, my mom's siblings and their families, are getting together on Sunday. Our reunions tend to happen about once a decade. My fear is that this will be the last time that all of the senior generation are together. My mom is #6 of 7 kids... so although she's young... her siblings aren't. I'm thankful for the family members I've been able to reconnect with because of the internet.

I'm thankful for Weight Watchers... if I wasn't on this kind of strict, disciplined plan, if I didn't already have that habit in place, I know that this would have been a time of extreme weight gain for me. I've had to work hard just to maintain the same weight and that's ok. It's better than gaining weight.

I'm thankful for Thursday.

I'm thankful for answered prayer. Yesterday I found out that a prayer I had prayed for 2 1/2 years has been answered... the protection that I asked God to give to some children that God laid on my heart has come to fruition. If you've ever prayed for something for a long time before you saw it come to pass, you know the relief and restoration that answered prayer gave me.

I'm thankful to be able to believe in God, to have a Higher Power that I can trust, to have the confidence that comes from seeing prayers answered again and again.

My internet keeps crashing so I better post while I can... have a great day, y'all!

wonderful Wednesday

Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?

That's from Job, chapter 4.
Blogging a little bit later this morning. I really felt the need to have my quiet time before I blogged... was searching for a word of encouragement or wisdom.
Ok. The truth is... I feel like I'm a lukewarm Christian. I'm strong on faith as far as believing that God can and will, there's no doubt about that ... but I'm weak on doing the things that God wants me to do. My relationship with God isn't as reciprocal as it should be. I'm a work in progress. I don't know that I could call my life "devout". I do know... that I have a gift for encouragement... which is why I write, why I send cards... I know it's not because I'm such a great, compassionate, merciful person. The truth is, in my natural self, in my worldly self, I'm very catty and sometimes mean. I'm very southern. I know how to keep up appearances.

The paragraph above was part of what Job's friend Eliphaz, the Temanite had to say to Job. This is the cool thing that I find about the bible... you can debate all day long about whether it's the actual Word of God... whether the men who translated it had their own personal agenda... whether it's literal, etc, etc. Say what you will... that passage was a powerful encouragement for me today. To me it says, "follow your own advice"... and it's a beautiful example of how a Godly friend can help lift you up...

I am hurting. I'm scared, truth be told. I'm afraid that it's going to come down to me having surgery to relieve the pain. It gets worse every day. I'm tired.

There is another passage in the 5th chapter that talks about how God disciplines those He loves. I am acutely aware that God is "correcting" me. I asked for it... I asked Him to draw me closer to Him and He has. I struggle with the concept of a God who "corrects"... we want Him to be this benevolent Santa Claus who gifts us, blesses us, gives us special powers... it's a harsh reality that the more you love someone, the more extreme measures you'll take to make sure they're on the best path. I asked for it... and it is transformational. I can't count on my own financial strength. I can't count on an earthly partner. I can't even depend on my own physical ability. I need Him.

I'm battling waves of nausea this week. Had to break out the anti-nausea meds last night. Not sure if it's a side effect of the steroids or just ... who knows. Usually that kind of nausea comes from my sensitivity to medications... but the only new meds in my system are the steroids. I'm having tons of muscle spasms, tingling, numbness... and the hits just keep on coming. Yesterday's post sounded more lonely and pitiful than I meant for it to... there are definitely some loyal, loving people in my life who are faithful to lift me up in prayer... And there are people who are just over it. Either way... I know that God does put people in my path who are willing and able to minister to me and I'm so grateful for their support.

Time is running out... it's not a whiny Wednesday today... it's going to be a WONDERFUL Wednesday! Love and hugs!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I haven't got time for the pain...

I arrived at a conclusion on Monday: when people stop asking how you're doing, it's because they're tired of hearing about it. Like that commercial of the woman with the obnoxious arm cast who rattles on through the whole commercial about how miserable she is. I have become that person that people are afraid to ask, "how are you?" It's almost as if ... if we just avoid talking about it, it will go away. Reminds me of the nurse at my regular doctors office who called and said, "we have the results of your MRI. it shows two bulging discs. if you're still having pain..." IF?

Anyways...It is what it is. I worked all but two hours yesterday. The pain was washing over me in waves along with some pretty strong nausea. Couldn't take it any more and left around 3:30pm. Someone said to me the other day that I'm a strong woman... I don't feel strong. I feel afflicted. My nerves are so raw. I'm so tired. How do people live this way? What do you do when you run out of sympathy? I mean... whether you ask me how I am or not, I'm still in pain. It's like on an award show when the applause ends before the recipient of the award reaches the stage. Awkward silence... are you still appreciated without the applause? If the pain outlives the sympathy, is it still legitimate?

It makes me wonder how long it will be before people avoid me altogether because they don't want to hear any more about it. Will people stop reading my blog... or skim over the parts that talk about my back pain? There are already people in my life who have drifted away. I don't know how to be anything other than my authentic self. I'm simple that way: whatever is closest to the surface is what is most likely to come up in conversation. The bottom line is that things are getting worse... not better. I have more muscle weakness, more muscle spasms, more pain... and now more nausea than I did on the very first day this hit.

I've been reading Job... you know how they say, "misery loves company"? When you're miserable... you read Job. Here's a passage from the third chapter:

24 For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. 25 What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

If God permits in His wisdom what He could have prevented with His power it is for this purpose: that we would bow our knees and say "yes lord, your will be done."

I haven't lost sight of the fact that this pain began on the same day I prayed, "Lord, show me your power"... not that I feel that God has afflicted me. Honestly, I believe my human condition, my finite, mortal body has failed because I didn't take care of myself. I asked too much of my back.

However... I will say this... a friend of mine from childhood, a breast cancer survivor, passed along a prayer request yesterday for a young lady who has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My friend noted that this woman was in good health, a vegan... almost as if she didn't deserve to have cancer and implicating that people who have a poor diet and don't exercise "deserve" it. We have that tendency, don't we? To look for "reasons" for an illness. I know my friend doesn't really feel like anyone "deserves" to get sick... it's just a matter of trying to make sense of it all. I think it's our human response to try to claim power over sickness by rationalizing that people who eat healthy, exercise, keep a healthy weight couldn't get sick... and those who abuse their body by carrying too much weight, eating poorly, not exercising "deserve" to get sick.

We want to feel like we have control over things that we really have no control over. I feel guilty for my pain. Literally. I feel bad that I'm not as good of a mother, employee, aunt, friend, etc... I feel like I need to apologize for being unable to do the things that people want/need/expect me to do.

Yesterday I saw this quote and it stopped me in my tracks: suffering doesn't create your spirit, suffering only reveals your spirit. I am doing everything in my power to mitigate the pain in my back... being my own advocate, eating as healthy as I can, following doctors orders, getting whatever tests/treatments are recommended... but the pain is still there. So... while I'm in this season of life, for however it lasts, I have to structure my response to that season of trial to be a Godly response. I prayed that He would show me His power and He has. He has carried me. I'm not strong but God is. I don't have the energy or mental fortitude to handle continuous frustration and limitation but I know where to find the energy. All that I am NOT... He is. I have to make sure that the spirit revealed in me is what God intended.

I'm not one to suffer in silence. To quote Lady Gaga, "I was born this way"... I'm vocal. My 9th grade cheerleading sponsor once said about me that at first she thought I was a complainer... but the longer she got to know me, the more she realized that I was just a spokesman for people who don't speak up. I live out loud. No way around it. I believe it was by Divine Design. AND... I believe that every situation that I have given voice to, has been a blessing to someone somehow. So... this is the topic that is most prevalent in my heart and mind right now... and if you'd like to join me on this journey from survival to revival, I'd love to have your company. IF it's too much... if this topic doesn't interest you, that's ok too. One day when you're suffering (because we all will, at some time in our lives)... you may want to check back with me and learn from what I've learned.

Today I'm asking God for strength in my arms and legs... I'm so weak and shakey. I'm asking for enough relief from the pain for long enough that I can be productive at work. I'm asking Him for a financial blessing for myself and my employer. I want to be the best me I can be... and I'm asking that He bless Austin while he's taking some really important tests this week. Like the old hymn says, "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow"... that's what I'm asking for... and if you're someone who has lived with long term pain... let me know what has worked for you and how I can pray for you!

Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

my reason to love Monday this week...

Worst back pain yet. Muscle spasms that won't stop. I'm over it. I know you're tired of hearing about it. It's just my new reality... like being single... I'll get used to it. The numbness in my feet is worse. I'll confess... I'm discouraged. I thought that once I got to the Pain Clinic, that they would be able to resolve this. I'm no better than I was a week ago. Definitely dreading a long day at work and the pain it's sure to bring.

More from The Shack to start our week... a little background... The Shack is about a man whose family has suffered a Great Sadness that turned their world upside down. The central character, Mack, is drawn to the scene of this Great Sadness and when he gets there... he finds himself face to face with the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three are in human form allowing him to have very real conversations with them and get to the bottom of his Great Sadness.

This is an excerpt - a conversation between Jesus and Mack.

"so why don't you fix it," Mack asked, munching on his sandwich, "the earth, I mean."
"because we gave it to you"

"can't you take it back?"
"of course we could but then the story would end before it was consummated"

Mack gave Jesus a blank look.

"have you ever noticed that even though you call me Lord and King, I've never really acted in that capacity with you? I've never taken control of your choices or forced you to do anything, even when what you were about to do was destructive or hurtful to yourself and others"

Mack looked back at the lake before responding.

"I would have preferred that you did take control at times. It would have saved me and the people I care about a lot of pain"
"To force my will on you," Jesus replied, "is exactly what LOVE does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy.... submission is not about authority; it is all about relationships of love and respect."

NOW... this book is, of course, fictional and Jesus and Mack didn't REALLY have this conversation but.. I can imagine such a conversation taking place. My viewpoint is that I do serve a living God and that he walked among us here on earth in human form so it's not outside the realm of possibility to have a face to face conversation with him. I believe the disciples did. BUT... more than anything, I believe it could happen because I do believe that our relationship with Christ is built on love and respect and choice. Also, I believe that my relationship with God is built on grace, mercy and forgiveness. I would have preferred to never have made a mistake (I'm a bit of a perfectionist)... but I know that so many of the wrong decisions/mistakes I have made over the course of my life have served to make me a stronger person *in spite of myself*. AND... there is no greater security in a relationship than knowing you can mess up and still be loved.

I always try to approach things on my blog from my position of faith yet also respecting those who have different beliefs, who maybe don't feel as strongly as I do about there being one God, one path to eternal salvation. I'm not a great evangelist. I wasn't gifted that way. My responsibility - my purpose - my "mission", if you will, is to tell my story in my way as best I can. So I will tell you this: I talk to God... just like Mack talked to Jesus... I have those same conversations. And I'm willing to risk being accused of talking to myself or having an imaginary friend because I know that when I talk to Him, I feel better. I feel comforted. I find my path. I find mercy and grace and forgiveness. I even find healing (although you wouldn't know it from the past two months).... but I do find it. I don't mind praying out loud in a group because I talk to Him so much, it comes naturally for me.

Having said that... my heart is heavy for a few ladies in my life who are in transition, who are making big decisions, who are feeling overwhelmed and under prepared... God's divine design meant that we were created to need someone to stand in the gap for us... a strong shoulder to lean on... and there are those of us who by chance or happenstance ended up without that big, strong man to lean on. Here's what I do: I talk to God. I tell Him what I need. It's not news to Him, of course, but I believe that He waits until I ask for help... in the same way that I don't intervene in Ryan's life or Cody's life now that they are grown and independent. I mind my own business. I stay out of the way. I respect their ability to handle their own problems until they call and say, "Mommy... can you help?" and I do whatever is in my power and resources for them. Until they ask for help, I'm just interfering. My Abba Father does the same thing... He watches and waits until I'm in a place of humility... until I look up and say, "Father, God, I need you..."

I don't believe it's by accident that God has brought several women into my life who are in similar circumstances to my own. I don't believe it's coincidence that God has made me uniquely able to relate to their special challenges. The world sometimes seems to be divided between the Haves and the Have Nots as far as a life partner is concerned... and I am painfully aware of how difficult the journey can be for those who are in the Have Not camp. Just know, sweet sisters, that I am praying for you... and you... and yes, you too, and I believe that the Creator of the Universe is deeply concerned with you. I believe that He knows your heartache, He knows the loneliness, the fear, the frustration... He knows how your heart breaks for your children, He knows the limits of your budget, He knows the physical pain and emotional pain that you are suffering.

All of us have some Great Sadness in our lives... and all of us have the opportunity to go to The Shack and meet with the Great Healer who can ease the pain from that Great Sadness.

That's my reason to love Monday this week.
Time to glam and dash. Please pray for me... love and hugs!

random sunday stuff and a question from The Shack

Hard to believe this is my fourth day of rest in a row and I'm still barely able to move. I'm trying not to get discouraged but... every time I move, muscle spasms set in and the pain is unholy. I'm already praying about Monday because there is no way I can NOT work and I know it's going to be difficult. I'm too young to feel this old.

Other random topics tripping through the dark and dusty corridors of my mind:

watermelon for breakfast is awesome
the plateau is over... unfortunately, I've gained... i know it's partly the side effect of steroids and partly the fact that I've over-indulged in the past week
seriously, hardcore, back on track
if I could just get over my addiction to redhots
the weather has been perfect here... warm and sunny
i went into austin's room to turn off the tv last night and realized this kid has serious hoarding issues. i honestly think i need to get him psychological help for it. it's that bad.
even in the kitchen... he canNOT throw out an empty container. don't know what he's saving for.
watching lots of basketball over this extended weekend
battling a headache
not sleeping well, muscle spasms wake me up
will try to nap today in the recliner... seems to be the only comfy place
made an abbrieviated grocery run yesterday with austin's help
excessive news coverage of Japan has been replaced with excessive coverage of Libya
what a sad, scary, violent world we're living in right now
i have no room to complain about my light and momentary troubles with all the true misery in the world today
and I can't help but think that some of this is prophecy coming to pass
i tried watching some preaching and teaching on tv... but they all end up being an infomercial for whatever book that particular preacher or teacher is hawking
money changers in the temple
been trying to figure out what has my blood pressure up... if it's the stress of the chronic pain or if it's a medication that i'm on
i plan to have it checked again next week at my regular doctor, they'll do it for free
i worked so hard to control my blood pressure with diet. ugh.

Interesting question from The Shack:
Where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination: in the past, in the present or in the future?
I would say I spend a fair amount of time in the present, blogging, recapping, writing cards and letters about what's happening in my life right now...

I spend a lot of time reminiscing about the past, I think anyone with children who have left the nest can't help but remember those precious (and some not so precious) memories you made with your kids. Being on facebook also encourages me to flash back to remember the people I have reconnected with online. And there are truly some people who may have been more of a casual acquaintance than a friend at some time in the past who I have been able to get to know much better through facebook...

I don't think about the future much. I'm a little frightened of the future... not terrified, as I once was... but just handling today's issues is overwhelming for me right now... I think if I COULD focus my imagination more on the future, I'd feel a bit more inspired. I think one definition of "faith" would be to have courage about what the future holds. So... from that aspect, I'd say that my lack of focus on the future indicates a lack of faith. OR... you could say that really all I have is faith... I can't depend on a life partner or on financial security... I can't even depend on the strength of my own physical body because that has started to fail me... the only really secure thing in my future is my faith.

At any rate... hope you have a wonderful Sunday... love and hugs!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

news from the nest - and The Shack

Well... third day after the cortisone injection and I'm not finding any relief yet. I am still only comfortable when I'm reclined and on the "heating pad" (aka electric blanket). I tried sleeping in my bed last night and after a few hours had to get up. I kept waking up with horrible muscle spasms. I'm sure it will get better. Right?

At least my crazy appetite returned to normal yesterday. I got past the munchies without causing any major damage. I did a little cooking - chicken sausage with peppers and onions and spinach over orzo. And I think eating healthy food helped me beat the cravings. I've developed an addiction to red hots... which are not that bad in and of themselves but the sugar is such an appetite trigger for me... have to steer clear.

I'm getting a little stir crazy... I may get out and about a little later today.

One thing that has me wondering... I noticed that I have four refills on my neurontin and flexeril. If the pain doctor thought the cortisone was going to work, why give me that much of those meds?

Anyways... I'm enjoying watching lots of college basketball, playing lots of farmville, frontierville and cityville and reading The Shack. I've saved a few passages that I wanted to share with you...

"We are not three gods. and we are not talking about one god with three attitudes, like a man who is a husband, father and worker. I am one God and I am three persons and each of the three is fully and entirely the One."

"You can't share with one and not share with us all. Remember that choosing to stay on the ground is a choice to facilitate a relationship. You don't play a game or color a picture with a child to show your superiority. Rather you choose to limit yourself so as to facilitate and honor that relationship. You will even lose a competition to accomplish love. It is not about winning or losing but about love and respect"

This says a lot to me about Jesus' time on earth... how although he was God incarnate, he humbled himself - just like when we participate in games with our children that are far below our ability level and intellectual capacity, we want to commune with them and relate to them. Jesus related to us in the same way.

"Relationships are never about power and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself - to serve."

Aren't the BEST relationships in our lives the ones that are built on mutual respect? Where there is no power struggle, no need to determine who is subject to whom? Even if possibly we might be in a higher position, based on earthly standards, aren't we more fully fulfilled when we humble ourselves?

(about the trinity) "we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command, or 'great chain of being' as your ancestors termed it. What you're seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don't need power over the other because we are always looking after the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us. Actually this is your problem, not ours. Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could live or work together without someone being in charge... this is one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you, once you have a hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of rules and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you "

I love this whole concept of relationship being a circle instead of being a chain of command. I love that we have the priviledge of entering into that circle with the trinity of God - father, son and holy spirit. But we miss that priviledge because we are so deeply programmed to have rules of order and chain of command imposed on every relationship in our life. We simply can't comprehend. This was the big deal about the temple veil being torn in two at the time of the crucifixion... the sacrifice of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to enter into the Holy of Holies. We have the priviledge of communing with God himself. Huge, huge priviledge.

"Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired. In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system- whether political, economic, social or religious - any system actually. First one person and then a few and finally even many are sacrificed for the good and ongoing existance of that system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war and every abuse of relationship.... as the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in God's image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply 'be' in relationship with God and one another. If you had truly learned to regard each other's concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy."

This passage strikes a chord with me because I have such strong feelings about how many churches have become more about the organization and rules than what the organization was designed to do. We become so interested in the rules and boundaries that we forget about the PEOPLE involved in the organization.

Don't misunderstand me... there are awesome, Godly churches out there (and I think mine is among them) but there are many churches - and entire religions that have become more concerned with tradition than with spirit. And God, definitely is spirit. How can you relate something spiritual in the context of something finite and dictated? The church is designed to minister to one another, that's why we all have different spiritual gifts. Because NOBODY is given all of the spiritual gifts, there is always a need for a Godly fellowship so that you are able to fully connect with a BODY of believers.

I have always felt the presence of God more completely when I'm walking in the woods... or driving my car with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs or praying out loud... because I'm not concerned with rules and am free to worship him in spirit and in truth. I don't have to be concerned with the rules of etiquette that we have set forth in our churches... I have the freedom that God intended for our relationship to have.

And if you go a step further and apply this to human relationships, you understand why it's so important that we respect one another and love sacrificially. If you love someone so completely that you always want what's best for them - and vice versa - then there is no need for a power struggle or for a chain of command. Everyone is doing what's best for everyone else, therefore no one loses out.

This is definitely a very deep book... it really makes you think...
I'll share more as I get further into it.
I think I'm ready for a nap... hope you have a great Saturday! Love and hugs!

Friday, March 18, 2011

freaky friday

Thought I'd wake up this morning feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof... instead... I feel like I've been hit by a train. I can't sit up... I gave a little trial sit on my comfy couch and made it about thirty seconds before the pain was too intense. It feels like all my nerves were plucked... much, much more pain than I had ever been in before. Dr. Google says that it takes a few days for the meds to work... oy. Last night I was dizzy and headachey but that's not as bad today.

I don't know if it was the steroids... I'm going to blame them... I couldn't stop eating yesterday. Today I'm going to work very hard at NOT snacking. The good news is that I munched up all the munchies in the house and can't sit up to drive to the store. It's nothing but healthy food for this girl.

I'm reading The Shack by William Paul Young. I had heard that this was a "transformational" book... you know, the kind of book that changes your life... like Purpose Driven Life and Eat, Pray, Love and Redeeming Love... all of these books make you think about your own life. I've been jotting down phrases that I find interesting... Here are my phrases from yesterday:

Freedom comes in increments - the context of this is that we have free will but we're not completely free to do anything to anybody. Just like a bird is able to fly but sometimes lights on the ground or in a nest... we are given the ability to do amazing things but choose to do less than we are fully capable of doing.

Love always leaves a significant mark - you can't love someone without it making a "mark" on your life. Just like (I believe) when Jesus died on the cross for us, His love for us left a mark - nail scarred hands. And no mother has ever carried a child without having stretch marks or scars. Every single person that I have loved... whether friend or love interest... has changed me in some way, good and bad.

When all you can see if your pain, you lose sight of God. When you're facing problems that are overwhelming, even if you don't BLAME God (and most people do blame him) your focus inevitably is that THING that you're struggling with, be it emotional or physical pain, that thing absorbs all your energy. Think about the story of the disciples... walking on water with Jesus... as long as they kept their eyes on Jesus, they were able to perform this extraordinary feat... when they let their focus be on the stormy waves of water that threatened to engulf them, they started sinking. My prayer during this time of suffering has been "let this be for my good and God's glory"... and it has changed my relationship with God, without a doubt. The less I can rely on my own strength, the more I have to depend on his.

Pain has a way of clipping our wings, of limiting our ability to fly. There was a beautiful metaphor in the book relating this to a bird... but I won't plagiarize that. The truth is that we are unable to be all that we were destined to be when we are burdened with pain. And... my pain (at this moment) is mostly physical but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to still carrying some emotional pain. The whole dating embargo came about as a response to too many painful experiences with people who rejected me. That clipped my wings, for certain. I'm sure that you all have some situation that became painful for you and so you began to avoid it... a particular person who constantly discouraged you... a place, maybe church, that disappointed you... a goal that became to difficult to continue to try to attain. Over the course of our lives, we lose our childish exuberance and enthusiasm because we touch the stove and realize it's hot and never touch it again... I don't mean that literally, of course, I mean that we begin to restrict ourselves from hurtful circumstances... instead of realizing that the stove will eventually cool off. I know many, many people who have suffered loss of some sort and turned completely from God.

One other concept that has me really deep in thought... what color is God? I mean, in your head, when you picture him, pray to him, is it an old man with a long white beard? Or do you see him as the same as your own race?

I'm only about 100 pages into the book... but so far, it's really impacting me.

I got a call from my Steel Magnolia (my 87 year old grandmother) Or as she says, in a very french way, "this is grand ma ma" last night... I didn't answer the phone because I didn't recognize the number... so she left a very sweet message. I saved it. I just have a feeling that there will come a time when I'll want to hear her voice again and won't be able to. She wanted me to extend an invitation for Purple Michael to come see Dearly Departed with us... so Michael, if you find yourself in the southeast in late May, you've got a theatre date!

In other news: I'm down to only one coffee mug. I imagine the rest are in Austin's room and I am unable to bend over to pick them up. Going to have to crack the whip on getting that room cleaned again. He was absolutely no help last night. I asked him to stay home last night because I was feeling dizzy and shakey and was afraid that I might pass out. He said I could call him. Not if I'm passed out. When I said, "I really need your help tonight" he started screaming at me and accusing me of not taking care of him... "you never take me to the doctor or dentist"... which is true... but he hasn't appeared to have anything wrong - he complained about a toothache two days ago but ... there was no time for me to research and find what dentists accept his insurance AND... there hasn't been time for me to take off work to go. So in his mind... and with Austin, his perception becomes his reality... he had no obligation to me because I hadn't taken him immediately after he demanded it. Honestly... when I have taken him to the doctor many many many times in the past, when I've taken off work and taken him... the only thing wrong with him is allergies... and that's what he's been suffering with lately. All of his complaints... stuffy nose, etc. Anyways... I just held up my hand and said, "I'm not having this conversation with you now. I don't have the strength to fight with you today". And so he left. Without permission. That one is no fun to raise, I'm tellin' ya.

And that's the news from the nest today. I'll be here all day... on facebook, I'm sure... love and hugs, y'all.