Friday, August 31, 2012

Stressed and Thankful

Tug of War Photo Credit: joshwept

So Monday, I told you about Drew's car breaking down.  Then Wednesday after a pretty great youth rally, my car tried to break down.  Thursday morning I got to work, but Thursday afternoon I didn't get home.  So my car is good and broken.  As of publishing this, I don't know what is wrong with it or how much it will cost to fix it.  Car issues are enough to stress anyone out, but we also have errands that just can't seem to get run and work that we just can't get finished.  Everything seems to be out of sync.

Another example, we didn't finish our fast food from Wednesday night because of the whole car not working, but now it is thing.  So I put my husband's tacos in the oven on broil for just a couple minutes to try to crisp them up again.  My mother-in-law came in with Ben to get pajamas and clothes to keep him.  I went out side to throw out a diaper and chatted with her.  I chatted just long enough to forget the tacos and they burned.  So instead of having the tacos he wanted Drew had leftovers that neither of us really wanted.  Ugh!

Oh and did I mention that Ben tripped at the youth rally and got a good scrape and a bump on his forehead. He also had a deep scratch on his ankle.  Then the music got loud and upset him as well.  So I basically had an upset toddler for about an hour.

Even with all this stress, I keep seeing God show up over and over again.  My car got us home Wed. night and it got me to school Thursday morning.  We needed that.  Even though Drew didn't get the food he wanted last night, we did get quiet time and he got to work on some homework.  Even though Ben got hurt, I got sit in the grass with him and sing praise songs.  AND he was polite to all of the strangers who kept talking to him while he was upset.  I see very clearly how God is protecting us and providing for us.  I am tired and maybe even a smidge worried.  It depends on what minute you ask me.  Most minutes, I genuinely believe God has a plan and he is guiding things.  He has it all in his hands and I'm okay with that.

I am thankful for his provision.  I am thankful for his protection.  I am thankful for the plan he has.  I am thankful for smiles.  I am thankful for laughs.  I am thankful for hugs.  I am thankful for songs.  I am thankful for family.  I am thankful for friends.  I am thankful for this life God has blessed me with.

Today I am linking up with Leslie at Top of the Page.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Love in the Real World: After the bad

This  is week 5 of the series, Love in the Real World. There are so many Hollywood love stories out there that we forget what real love looks like. So over the next few weeks you will hear about what real love looks like or doesn't, the good, the bad, and the in-between. Enjoy! 

I have promised that the bad will be discussed.  Today I am honored to have a good friend and fellow blogger Jeremy.  He has had a rocky road for love in this world.  He blogs about his journey and about God.  His perspective on a 'simple' Bible story really makes it come to life.  His observations on life really make sense and are rather practical.  So with his permission, I have reposted a couple of his posts about his failed marriage and his walk since then.

And Only the Moon Looks Down Photo Credit: CarbonNYC

Originally written: May 19
This week I have been moving. Never have I looked forward to, or dreaded a move more than this one. Moving to a new place is always exciting for me, but I hate actually moving my stuff. This time is it made doubly difficult. Everything that I pack is a memory. I know that is true to every move, but when viewed through the window pane of divorce, even the good ones hurt. This move is a chance to start over, to start living life again. A chance to start building the life in my dreams. Hopefully, one day, I will find the person I thought she was. Just as God made Eve for Adam, He made someone for me too. And when I am ready, He will bring her to me. I just pray that I am smart enough to recognize her when she gets here.
Originally published: June 12
As many of you know, my wife left me last fall. It was like the world had been jerked out from under me. I landed in a very dark place, but the Light of the world reached down, picked me up, and put me back on my feet. Since then I have been climbing up out of the deep dark hole I fell into. Along the way I have had lots of questions for God. Some He has answered and others, not yet.

One of the questions He has answered is the dating question. I wasn't looking to date when I asked, just curious. So I asked one day while on my lunch break. Later that same day a customer came in and struck up a conversation. We talked about our respective ex-wives. Nothing serious, just chit chat. He went on his way and I went on to the next customer.

About 10 minutes later the guy comes back with a puzzled look on his face. I asked him what was wrong. He said, "I'm not sure why, but I feel I am supposed to tell you something." I asked him what it was. "Don't date until it's official. Don't even go out and "just have fun" with a girl." WOW!! That hit me like a ton of bricks. A direct, clear and concise answer from Almighty God. I may not be with my wife anymore, but I am still married. Marriage is holy and not to be entered of exited lightly. And if I am still legally married, anyone that I would date I would cause to commit adultery with me.

Since then I have done pretty good. I haven't dated any one except when my wife and I went out a few times trying to work things out. That didn't work. Now you maybe asking yourself what all this has to do with temptation. Over the past few days and weeks I have noticed women flirting with me more and more. Last night a friend of mines fiance told me that a friend of hers wants to get to know me better. There is the temptation. She seems like a nice girl. She is a christian and we have a lot in common. But God was very clear! "Don't date until it's official."

I must obey. If I don't I will miss out on a blessing that God has in store for me. The woman that God made for me is out there some where. If she is here, she will be here when it's time. Until then I must remain faithful and not let the enemy gain a foothold in my life through temptation.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The time I stood in the slow lane

Flat Tire! -1 for me Photo Credit: jerkmony

Saturday did not go as planned.  The plan was for Drew to go to his meeting in the morning and be home by mid-afternoon.  I was going shopping for Ben with my mother in law.  When Drew got back we were going to get together for dinner.  The shopping part went fine and Drew's meeting went fine.  It was the getting home by mid-afternoon that didn't go fine.  Much earlier in the day, my cell phone went dead because Ben had been playing it on so much.  No biggie because my mother in law had hers.  I texted Drew to let him know what had happened and didn't get a response.  A little weird, but oh well.  As we were at our last stop for the day, I heard from Drew.  He called his mom's phone and I picked up.  I started to chat about the day and he cut me off.  He had a flat tire and was stuck on the highway.  He needed us to come pick him up and bring Fix-A-Flat.  Praise God that Food Lion was next door and had Fix-A-Flat.  My mother in law grabbed a can and we headed off.

It seemed like it took us forever to get there.  We just kept driving and didn't see him.  We were starting to get worried and then there he was!  Except it was the other side of the road and we didn't know how to get there.  Come to find out there aren't a whole lot of U-turn areas on that highway.  There was an exit right by him, but by the time we saw him we had missed the exit.  We had to drive what seemed like several more miles to get to a U-turn area.  We slowed down to enter it only to find out it was one way, not the way we were going.  However, it was too late because we were already committed to the turn.  We quickly went through while a couple cars who belonged there patiently waited for us.  We finally got back to him and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Except that sigh was premature.

I gave him the Fix-A-Flat and he put it in his tire.  He got in a tried to drive it up the road.  He got about 10 feet.  It was shooting right back out confirming his suspicion that the problem was the valve stem.  So now for plan B.  We went up the road a little bit to a hardware store and he got the last 4 way wrench they had.  We were almost back to his car when he wondered if the jack he had would work.  Thankfully there was an auto parts store not too far out of the way.  We stopped there and he got a jack stand.  We got back to his car and he pulled it off the shoulder in hopes he could change to the spare without being in road.  The jack started digging into the ground, so that obviously didn't work.  He angled the front of his car back to the shoulder, but couldn't get the jack under it.  So he moved the whole car to the shoulder and still nothing. 

The only option he had left was to be in the highway changing the tire.

That worried me.  It worried my husband and my mother in law too.  Drew's uncle died changing a tire on a highway several years ago.  I had to do something to protect him and keep the fear at bay, so I stood in the slow lane in front of my husband.  While he was working on the tire, I was making sure people moved over. I have to say most people were wonderful.  They moved over in plenty of time and posed no threat at all.  A couple of them made me want to curse because they took longer than they should.  I could probably make some grand parallel to spirituality, but...

My story isn't over yet.

I don't really know how long I stood in the road.  I know it was long enough for my feet to get hot!  When my husband got done and put the car back on the pavement, the spare looked a little flat.  He thought he would try it anyway.  He got maybe half a mile.  Then the spare went flat.  It was coming off the rim it was so flat.

Now what?

We used the last of my mother in law's cell phone battery to call his dad who has a rollback to tow us.  We sent Ben with Nana back home while Drew and I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  While we were waiting, 2 people stopped to see if we needed any help.  I was amazed that someone stopped and also amazed that so few people stopped.  We are so quick to assume that people on the side of the road have the help they need or that they are psycho killers that no one stops.  I for one think that is sad.  At that point we had no cell phone that worked and no spare to be had.  No one passing us would have known we had been there for 2 hours already and had one to go, but they shouldn't have to know that.  There were many couples and families that passed us with out so much as a glance backwards.  My husband was driving his 1970 Buick Skylark GS.  And at least 2 other hot rodders passed us.

I am not advocating that everyone should stop or that women by themselves should stop.  I'm just saying in a 3 hour period only 2 people stopped to try to help.  That is a sad state of affairs for the American public.  So what I am I going to do about it?  When I am with Drew, we will stop more often.  We rarely have to be somewhere so badly that we can't stop and ask if they need help or a phone call.  Even if they don't need help, they will know that someone wanted to help.

The end of the story: His dad came to pick us up after an hour because he was on the old highway and we were on the new highway.  The cell phone having battery would have helped!  But God showed up, kept us safe, and gave us a pretty good story.

Side note:  Didn't see one cop in 3 hours either.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 8-25

Articles that I want to share with you

Shawn Smucker - When white tube socks are treasured and I find something in poverty I didn't expect  - The air pressed in around me, cold and foreign, and I was scared when my dad and my uncle opened the back of the van to reveal the treasure we carried: boxes and boxes of gleaming white tube socks wrapped in plastic.
“Hey, buddy,” my dad called, never scared, never one to hesitate. “You need some socks?”
The man pushed his cart over towards us, squinting his eyes. He grunted as if to say of course, who wouldn’t want new socks?

DRGT: Just Wondering - Our bending low Jesus - Maybe it's the contrast of that image - 
the one I can hardly grasp,
the one that speaks of grandeur,
and Beyond-my-ken,
and Ground-of-Being hugeness -
the contrast of all that
with the picture we have of Jesus
in the pages of the gospel.

Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - Laundry Lessons - I’ve learned that you should turn clothes inside out so they don’t fade or turn into multiple awkward shades of the same color.

This Time Around - Community in Action - Okay, we didn’t enjoy the early morning wake-up call. Who wants to hear a smoke alarm going off, someone yelling “Fire!” and your husband stumbling around your camping trailer as he struggles to get on a pair of pants and grab the fire extinguisher at 5:15 in the morning?
But what we saw as people sprung into action to take care of a trailer fire this past Wednesday was amazing: - The Gospel that is Not - Even if we think we understand the gospel, when we assume that our congregations, small groups, and friends understand grace and therefore skip right past it and go straight to application, we are still motivating them by works and not the gospel.
I have seen countless friends grow up in the church youth group, hearing so many rules and commands without hearing the explicit motivation and reason behind the commands. Christianity becomes “being a good person who follows the rules”.

The Rantings of a Dad - Comparing Kids and Writer's Block  - I've noticed since I started this blog that other people feel more comfortable writing/talking/posting about their kids. Especially my friends who are dads and uncles. Now, I freely admit that this probably doesn't have something to do with my blog. 

Its like when I played football and my jersey number was "65." I started noticing that number everywhere. Why? Because God wanted me to know that He wanted me to play football and I was destined to be in the NFL someday? 
Thoughts on God, Life, and Ministry - A Postcard from the Middle of Christianity  - The primary problem I see with modern Christianity is that there is a seamless divide between our faith and our politics.  While I agree that your faith should impact how you vote 100%, the problem is that in the political realm, we are conservatives and liberals; Republicans and Democrats.  And that carries over into the church.

Beta Christian - The Firestarter  - Once outside the building, while waiting for the FDNY, I wondered why our apartment was so full of smoke. Curiosity got the best of me so I handed baby to wife, covered my mouth with a cloth and went inside to investigate. It was difficult to see with all the smoke, but as I walked inside of the kitchen, I saw it. Stove was on and all the water inside the pot was dried and the plastic bottles had melted.
I proceeded to turn off the stove, threw pot outside the window and when I turned around, a huge FDNY fireman was standing there holding an axe in his hand. I looked at him, he looked at me, I said, “my bad, it was my fault1”. He looks around, sees no threat of any fire and proceeds to exit the apartment. I follow him.

A Deeper Story - On why I don't know if I'm a pacifist  - I don’t like guns. The physical or virtual kind. And in an ideal world, I’m a pacifist too. A lion-sleeps-with-the-lamb kind of girl. But in this world, the lion eats the lamb. So when that happens, do we just sit back? Or do we defend the lamb?
These are the hard questions. Some things are a spiritual battle, yes, and some things are mental. But then there are those that are very, very physical.

Sandy Ridge Wesleyan Church - Social Media and the Changing Church  - I once heard it said that while the Gospel message itself never changes, the ways to communicate the Gospel are forever changing and evolving. I have found this to be quite true in many ways over the years. One of the ways we have seen change in the realm of how we communicate is with the explosion of social media over the past 5 years. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, and so forth have exploded in popularity. Sadly, many churches have been slow to adapt to this trend. The question I have is – why?

Red Letter Believers - As long as you're happy and other lies  - Happiness, although thrown into the Bill of Rights by Thomas Jefferson, is not really a Christian imperative. We act like it is – using it as an excuse to leave a spouse, to buy unnecessary possessions,or to gorge ourselves at the buffet line of life.

I am a "happy" person – and I consider my outlook to be positive. It's my faith that sets the table for happiness. But to pursue happiness creates all kinds of ugly situations. Read Malcom Muggeridge’s thoughts on this:

Top of the Page - A "What am I doing wrong?" sort of day  - I was grieving in my own heart from the events of the day, and I thought it was for my son. I saw him wrestling with shame today. I knew I needed to pray against the enemy's lies in his life...

But when I knelt there, God shook His head at me and smiled. "Oh no," He said, "That grief you feel is your own. For your mistakes. For the parenting failures that are haunting you. The enemy has his claws in you too.

A few tears squeezed through my lashes.

It was true. The Lord saw what was really going on inside when I couldn't. In His presence, it all was exposed. I'm the one who needs the freedom, I realized. Romans 8:1, the verse "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," began repeating in my head. No condemnation. No condemnation. 

The Church of No People - Why you should always be underpaid  - Being overpaid is wrong, isn’t it?  Wouldn’t that mean you aren’t doing your best, or you’re not giving your employer what they deserve?
If you are not underpaid, then you aren’t working hard enough.  Your effort you give should always outstrip the value you take.
If you aren’t do that, what reason does the boss have to give you a raise?

Jon Acuff Blog - Don't believe the social media experts  - The funny thing is they’re all wrong.
Not because I’m using them the “right way,” but because there is no right way. There’s only my way and your way and your friend’s way and your brother’s way and everyone else’s way.

Our Magnolia Lane - I am who I am - Maybe this is why I am so attracted to art and music. It is probably just a release for me when I have too much going on inside. When my brain is working overtime and my heart is just too full. If we just met and you told me about the heaviness of your heart, I would cry with you. And then i would go home and cry again. Its just who I am. 

Compassion - Going to the "mall" aka the garbage dump - The beginning was not easy.
According to pastor Alberto, when the community learned about the proposal of the development center, many families opposed the idea, thinking it was another strategy to get votes from them – votes in exchange for “little favors” that would be removed after the elections.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Where is my happiness?

 Photo Credit: Me! (citrus.sunshine)

I read this post from Red Letter Believers and this post from Run with the Big Girls and to me they are related.  You see I want to get healthier, but I'm not willing to sacrifice any of my happiness to do it.  I don't mean that in a selfish way because I don't get my happiness from pursuits of self.  I am happiest when I am playing with my son and husband.  I am happy when I am at my job helping students and teachers.  I am happy when I am at my other job helping the youth and our church.  I don't want to sacrifice these things to go run on a treadmill or work out at a gym or whatever.

Drew and I have talked about walking around the neighborhood, but haven't put it into practice yet.  So last Saturday I ran on the treadmill in the morning, but I missed my son waking up and running down the hall to find me.  I missed him sitting on my lap or laying next to us in bed.  It was a good work out, but I hated missing that.

The simple idea is to get up earlier.  I've tried that and I can't do it.  The earliest I can manage is about 6 am. I get my lunch together, get my breakfast and my coffee, I get dressed and do my hair, I have a little quiet time, and then it 7 and time to go.  I am going to try to fit in 10 to 15 minutes, but I'm not sure about that.  So getting up earlier really isn't working for me.

Last night Drew, Ben, and I went outside.  We ran and played soccer.  We jumped and tickled.  We were outside for an hour.  I worked up a little bit of a sweat.  I can't say that I 'worked out' for the whole hour.  I know I had fun.  I laughed and enjoyed my family and my home.  That is what I need more of.  That is what can help me be more healthy and more happy.  So whether it be a walk around the neighborhood or playing soccer outside, we, as a family, will be getting healthier and happier together.  And maybe some running will come along somewhere in there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love in the Real World: Just Friends

This  is week 4 of the series, Love in the Real World. There are so many Hollywood love stories out there that we forget what real love looks like. So over the next few weeks you will hear about what real love looks like (or doesn't), the good, the bad, and the in-between. Enjoy! 

This week I am honored to host Katie Hawkins. She is a photographer, videographer, missionary to Albania, and a hesitant dater. She blogs about Albania and you can see many of her videos there as well. Based on the links, you can see that she is all over the internet as well as the world. Click on some of those links and see what she is all about after you read this super amazing and REAL story.

Peregrine Espresso Photo Credit: Mr. T in DC

I had luck in the dating department for three years. With the same guy. Then it ended. Quite abruptly though afterwards, I saw the end coming for a long time. But it was mutual, meaning it wasn’t my choice. I realize now that it never should have even lasted three years but it did. That’s that. And I’d like to think I learned from it for future dating purposes. But maybe I needed another date to figure things out...

It hadn’t been long after I just wrapped things up with my boyfriend of three years. I didn’t want to start dating again. I needed to figure out who I was without him (yeah I had become one of “those” girls eek!), where I was and where I wanted to go. But back in the day of instant messaging of my early college career, I got an instant message.

“Hi! My name is I-want-to-be-more-than-

friends. I know you don’t know me but I’ve seen you around campus. I think you’re pretty. Would you like to go out with me sometime?”

And yes. That is pretty much a direct quote. Thank goodness I had the excuse of just getting out of a long relationship and not being emotionally prepared.

But seriously. A) If you think I don’t know who you are, don’t introduce yourself online if you see me everyday (I went to a small college). That makes you sound really creepy. B) Don’t ask me out online if you’ve never even talked to me in person and you have the chance to every day! Man up!

I said something along the lines of oh that’s nice and included the phrases “just got out of a long relationship” and “not ready” so he talked a while more then said when I was ready, let him know. Ok sweet. Bullet dodged.

Ok. Cool. I knew who he was (like I said I went to a small school). I wasn’t really interested. But I’m a people pleaser so the next time I was online he got smarter. He asked about my weekend plans and knowing I had made it clear before that I wasn’t interested I said I didn’t have any. I should have known.

He asked if I’d like to go out for coffee just as friends. Well I’m a people pleaser. I didn’t want to. But I couldn’t really say no after I told him I didn’t have any plans. He said as friends though. As friends? Yes. I asked several times to make sure and each time he confirmed as friends. So I caved, because we were going just as friends.

Turns out my friend who thought I should go on a few dates told him to ask me out for coffee because it would be more casual only she told him to ask to go out as friends and later I’d come around. As in I’d come around after we’d hung out a few times. He apparently thought I’d come around between the asking and the going.

I’m sure you can tell where this was going. I was hoping to make this as short as was socially acceptable. So he comes to pick me up from my dorm and we walk over to a coffee shop about 5 minutes away. I know I’m in trouble when we get one minute into our walk and he says, “If you want, you can hold my hand.”

Really? Really. Really? So much for going as “just friends.” So I suffer on in the super awkward conversations. Though to be fair, I didn’t exactly encourage long conversations...

We finish our drinks and I can tell he isn’t ready to leave. But I am. So I get the conversation on what dorm he’s living in next year and with who because I know he will ask me back (the conversation was that bad).

He answers and sure enough he asks me back. I tell him who I’m living with and he gets super quiet. Within 2 minutes he asks if I’m ready to go. Of course I say sure. (I was going to live with his ex-girlfriend who he cheated on. Which I already knew about. Which based on his reaction, I’m pretty sure he assumed I knew).

He gets up to pay for our $4 drinks and whips out his volunteer firefighter card to get a discount. Ok. I’m into saving money and everything, but if you are taking a girl out on a first date (especially after it was made clear it was just as friends and not a date), it’s not worth saving 50 cents. If it was a dollar? Maybe. But not 50 cents. Just let it go.

Needless to say that was the most awkward and painful date I’ve been on. And it never should have been a date! But whatever the label, from experiences like these and my previous 3 year relationship, the good, the bad and even awkward experiences have toughened me up to say no to dates as friends (for fear of them turning into real dates), to know what I want in a relationship and a guy and more importantly, the confirmation of what I already knew: dating just to date is not worth it (at least for me) while I wait for “the one.” I’d rather be alone than suffer through any unnecessary “friend” dates.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From a Mom to a Dad: Guest Post

Today I have the honor of appearing on The Isle of Man.  Kevin and his wife Kim just had a baby boy and he needed some people to help him out on his blog, so he could take a break and be with his new family.  I got some inspiration and sent him some words.  Then I found out I would be guest posting with a bunch of real bloggers and got worried.

 (That is Kevin and Kim.  If you want to more about them, go here.)

SO, I would love for you all to go over there and read what I had to say.  You might even think about leaving a comment.  That would make it seem a little more like I am almost as cool as the other bloggers.  Read some of the other bloggers while your at it and some of Kevin's posts.

And a preview of what you will go read:

"Marshall Dillon never settled down with Miss Kitty because he knew he wouldn't be a good husband. He was, however, an amazing law man who valued and protected the people of Dodge City. Yes, I know he is a fictional character, but they wrote him in a way that appealed to the masses."

Now that you are wondering what Gunsmoke has to do with being a new father.  Go read the rest of what I had to say!

Thank you guys for your support!

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to make parties awkward for introverts

This weekend my husband and I went to a birthday party for a good friend of Ben's from pre-school.  We know that at gatherings of adult and kids I often stand out as being a little different.  I thought about writing an account of how I didn't quite fit in.  However tonight as I write, I'm feeling snarky.  So you get a humorous post that is marginally related to the party we went to this weekend.  

Having said that, please note.  The hosts were wonderful and accommodating and gracious.  One other couple there was amazing!  They asked questions and listened to our answers.  Then asked more questions based on our answers.  Wonderful!  So my inspiration for this post isn't so much that party as most other parties I've attended.

This seems like a good prequel to my guest post on The Isle of Man tomorrow.  My guest post isn't snarky or humorous, but Kevin, the guy that runs it, is humorous.  So if you liked this at all, go there and read his stuff.  If not, go there tomorrow and read my guest post.  I will post a link tomorrow when it goes live.
Being an introvert, I try to avoid public gatherings that are not family and very close friends.  However over the course of a lifetime attending some parties becomes necessary.  These have taught me quite a bit and I will now share it with you.  By following these simple rules you can make and awkward party for the introverts you know.

Birthday Party  Photo Credit: .imelda

1.  Make sure that someone they don't know greets them at the door.  We don't love introducing ourselves, so anything past our name will not come to us.  Then we will realize that more small talk is socially required, but the time has past.  Now we are feeling a little awkward.

2.  When we enter the party space, separate us from the extrovert we came with.  Any good introvert knows the best way to avoid awkwardness is to bring an extrovert.  We can ride their coat tails until we have found someone with whom we can talk.  Separate us and the awkwardness meter just doubled.

3.  After separating us, make sure we eat something.  Maybe this is a woman thing and not so much an introvert thing, but eating around new people is always awkward.  How much is too much?  What if I don't like the vegetable tray?  Is it okay to skip that or do I end up looking like a pig?  Are these people noticing what I eat?

4.  After getting our plate full, sit us down with a new group of people.  Now that we are wondering about the food we are or are not eating, this seems like the perfect time to introduce us to new people.  So we have to go through the introductions that we will inevitably mess up.  Then we try to remember how to small talk while paying attention to this new group of people.  The awkwardness gets amped up when we can't really relate to what they are talking about.

5.  Finally, ask the us questions about those things to which we can't relate.  Of course, we realize that these new people don't know we can't relate.  We realize they are trying to be friendly and include us in their discussion.  This just increases the awkwardness for us.  We know you are being nice and we know that we are the freaks.  So we do our best to fumble through an answer hoping that the next question will be something more manageable.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  Fellow introverts, what have I missed?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 8-18

Poems and Pictures

Pictures of Poverty - A Child of God deeply loved 

DRGT: Just Wondering - Paying attention: A Prayer with Photos 

Articles you should read because they are awesome

DRGT: Just Wondering - An African Journal Post One: Beneath the Surface  - We had traveled far to be in that van on a sunny Monday morning: California to Brooklyn by car, Brooklyn to Capetown by freighter, Capetown north through Rhodesia in a van to be shared with other missionaries, yet to be met.  We were on our way to Zambia, a land completely unknown to us, a land that would be our home for the next two years

The Daily Mail - Lou Xiaoying: The truly inspiring story of the Chinese rubbish collector that who saved and raised THIRTY babies abandoned at the roadside - She and her late husband Li Zin, who died 17 years ago, kept four of the children and passed the others onto friends and family to start new lives.
Her youngest son Zhang Qilin - now aged just seven - was found in a dustbin by Lou when she was 82.
'Even though I was already getting old I could not simply ignore the baby and leave him to die in the trash. He looked so sweet and so needy. I had to take him home with me,' she said.

Read more:

The Rabbit Room - We all come from somewhere, part 1: Throwing Bibles and Rocking People  - What bugs me most about that tweet is how much effort I spent qualifying something I genuinely wanted to do. “I may or may not…,” “Don’t Judge Me…” Insinuating that if I go, it’s for nostalgia. Why did I feel the need to distance myself from going to see the one band who has probably received more of my money and bedroom wall space than any other in the history of the whammy bar?

Church of No People - The only kind of speech that needs to be protected  - The fundamental problem with our cushy, modern culture is not that we’re too sensitive or too easily offended.
It’s that we aren’t sensitive and offended at the right things.
Most of us lead lives of relative comfort and safety.  If you are reading this, it means you have access to the internet, which means you don’t have a million little disadvantages that others do.

I'd Laugh, But This All Happened to Me - Throwback Thursday: Southern Cross  - I spent 9 months in 1986 working and as the regional director of  youth ministry and religious education for the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, travelling a 6 state area training local church workers and planning events. Why only 9 months?  Read on in this vintage post from November of 2009.   

Compassion - Remember why you're here  - The catastrophe was in the news daily, but I didn’t have much time to pay close attention. Building a career, remodeling an older home, and wrangling three pre-school children kept me busy — and insulated — from the events happening an ocean away.
Then the photo broke into my space.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

The View from Here - El Dia de la Madre, the real Mother's Day  - Yesterday was el Día de la Madre, or Mother's Day, in Costa Rica. Since moving here nearly ten years ago our family hasn't quite decided which of the two Mother's Days to focus on. For Michelle and I Mother's day is the second Sunday in May. That's when it's always been and that's the proper day to celebrate, right?

The thing is, Michelle has three sons who know nothing about Mother's Day in the United States. 
Goins, Writer -The Writing Class You Never Had  - Call this your first introduction to the true craft of writing. Not talking about writing or theorizing about words. Just writing. Let’s get started.
There are three parts to writing anything:
  • The beginning
  • The middle
  • The end

Friday, August 17, 2012

Inspirational videos

This song ran through my head at work this week.  I was reading a book about the direction our principal wants us to go.  At first I was a little depressed that society had sunk so far as to need this.  Then I thought, "If you gotta start somewhere why not here?  If you gotta start sometime, why not now?"  So bring on the new ideas, let's change things for the better.

And then last night, Drew randomly played this clip and I laughed.  It was good.

So change something for the better and then laugh with someone you love.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Love in the Real World: His Voice

This  is week 3 of the series, Love in the real world. There are so many Hollywood love stories out there that we forget what real love looks like. So over the next few weeks you will hear about what real love looks like (or doesn't), the good, the bad, and the in-between. Enjoy! 

This week we have a special "Happy Anniversary" from Judy at Glimpses of Glory.  She is an amazing wife, mother, blogger, waitress, and person.  Enjoy the story and then go read more of the great stuff she writes.

Answering machine Photo Credit: DaveC_

The first time I heard it, his voice was a simple recording on my mother’s answering machine. At the time, my pelvis was split in two places and I could hardly make it to the bathroom without incident. In her rush to fly me from Texas to Kentucky, my mother had forgotten her check book at the local gas station where he worked. The message was simple, “Hey Marcy! This is Donovan. I just wanted to let you know that you left your checkbook at the gas station. We’ll have it for you the next time you come in. Thanks! Bye.” I replayed it over and over. His voice sounded . . . hot! My 21 year old heart fluttered every time I heard it. When I met him in person, I was not to be disappointed! He was incredibly good looking, charming, and caring. Within 10 months we were married, and on August 14th, we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary.
His voice is with me every day. I listen to it when he prays for me in the morning and when we go to sleep at night. Everyday, he calls me at lunch to check in and see how his family is doing. When I’m lucky, we’ll talk late into the night after a good movie about our dreams and hopes and prayers for the future. If things are rocky between us, or if I’m stuck in a rut, his words are like lifelines thrown out to a drowning man. I listen to him talk to our children. I’ve heard his voice in the other room, working out some issues with our son or directing our daughters. He stays in the moment; he looks them in the eyes. He is present with them and with me.
After 10 years, I still love the sound of his voice, not only for it’s sweetness but because of the heart that lies behind it. I want to know what he has to say because he is learning how to listen to the Father. My husband follows hard after God. He longs to hear His voice and I’ve seen that the more he listens to His words, the closer I want to be by his side.
                In 10 years, I have heard him say many things: words that hurt, words that healed, words that made me brave, and words that made me laugh hysterically. We have walked and talked through experiences that I could never have predicted. Only once, did his words suggest that we end our relationship. That was nine years ago and the worst night of my life. The next day, he said the best words ever spoken, “I want to try again.” I think that’s been the secret for us in our marriage: We are willing to try. No matter how hard it gets, we aren’t going to let go. We want to see where this leads. Even if we hit a dead end, we turn around, hand in hand, and keep trying.
                His voice is my favorite sound in the world. I pray that I can hear it until my dying day. I don’t know when that will be, but when it comes, I hope that I can still hear him say what we say to each other every day, “I love you.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Morning

Sacred Heart of Jesus by Unknown (1960) [Control # IAS IN000872]  Photo Credit: WikiProject Public Art

This morning I woke up thinking about some old hurts.  I discovered scars and bruises that I didn't know were still there.  I am constantly amazed at how much our past affects our present and our future.

I wish I had more words for today.

I wish I could tell you all about the bruises and scars.  But I'm not ready to be that vulnerable yet.  Maybe someday I will.

I wish I could tell you how I am going to begin healing them.  But I know I can't heal me, so I will be looking to the Healer today.

I wish I could tell you how they have been shaping my present.  But I can't because I don't know the answer to that.

So today I will be seeking grace and love from my Father.  I will seeking the arms of Jesus.  I will rest in his presence and let that be enough.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 8-11

Our Magnolia Lane - Are you okay there? - And I couldn't help but think about that guy at whole foods. He looked alot like Jesus. The smile, the hair, the way he practically sought me out, stopping in his own steps to check on me...I couldn't help but think, did he mean am I okay THERE?

Compassion - Spirituality is a way of life - Spirituality is a general way of life. Modern thought is patterned after Greek philosophy, and we tend to think in terms of compartments or categories. (Think of the way we write reports or present data). The Jewish way of thinking is holistic; to them, God was present in every situation of life. There is no separation between sacred and secular (Genesis 25:21–22).

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Mustard Seed - Faithful Friday: David and Goliath - Any tactician will tell that the first thing you have to do to beat any enemy is to close the distance between you and them as quickly as possible.  You do this so that they can’t use their longer ranged weapons against you.  David did this perfectly.  As Goliath started to move toward him, he ran at Goliath quickly.  He got inside the effective range of Goliaths spear, and let loose a stone from his sling.  The stone struck Goliath such force that it sunk into his head and killed him instantly.  As I said David had never been trained as a warrior.  He knew nothing of tactics.  It was an action inspired and directed by the God of Abraham.  

Red Letter Believers - Tell me anything but the truth - I realize a few things about myself. I am prone to exaggeration, to mood swings, and to manipulation. I will never be skinny, will probably frustrate those closest to me, and will not be a book writer. I'm sure   friends and family can add to the list of painful truths.

As Red Letter Believers, we are called to honesty about everything -- even ourselves.
This Time Around - A coffee and some unfinished business - Too often I find myself thinking (and acting like) I have depleted any sort of compassion, good will, and/or “benefit of the doubt” when I fall short. I see, but fail to fully grasp, the width and breadth and depth of God’s love for me, to lay hold of His great grace and tender mercies.
I forget I am a work-in-progress, and that I basically will be until my time here on Earth is done. 
I'd Laugh, but it All Happened to Me - We've got it all wrong  - Why are the showing swimming (it was water polo) again?  I hate swimming.  I like the running.  They never show the running (except for hours in prime time).  You know who is really good?  That Ulysses Bolton (Usain Bolt), the one from the Bahamas (Jamaica). He is so fast. I saw him win the 1000 yard (100 meter) dash.  He is really American you know, he just runs for the Bahamas because there team is easier to make.  Almost all of those foreigners really live in America.  Why do we let those foreign countries in the Olympics anyway (WOW!)? You know what else I hate? When those stupid British people say soccer and football are the same thing (The entire world calls it football except us)!  Yeah right. The Bucs would kill those soccer teams (seems unlikely the Bucs would win at either sport)...

The Arizona Russums - Flowers Fade Friday: Beautiful Things  - And Jesus was right. Her story was recorded in the Bible. And even today we celebrate the humble, nameless woman who poured her perfume on Jesus.

And this is how it is with all the mundane tasks that seem to fill our day. The hymn sung quietly as you unload the dishwasher. When you pause from sending emails to snuggle your child for a minute or give your husband a kiss. When you return to those emails and try to get back to people in a timely manner. When your Pinterest recipe fails miserably, and you laugh and throw a freezer pizza in the oven to feed your family.

The Esau Project - Just for Us - I feel like as a culture we’re getting less and less original.
Everywhere we turn there’s and advertisement showing us the clothes we need to buy or the new toys we need, what car we should be driving, and it all gives us a false sense of who we think we should be.
Mustard Seed - MAD Monday  - This week, while I was on my way to church, I saw something that gave me hope.  I noticed that the traffic light had turned green, but traffic had not started moving.  When I looked to see what was going on I saw some people running from the parking lot of the gas station.  They were running into the road.  

Goins, Writer - The Most Trying Part of Living a Good Story - Good stories involve conflict, which is a nice word for pain. People don’t become heroes without sacrifice, and as creatures of comfort, this is the last thing we want to endure.
Surely, our stories don’t have to require suffering in order them to be good — do they? They do, indeed.
No Superheros - Oscar Pistorius Teaches Us Endurance - I see a church of believers who receive an idea or a dream from God. We immediately begin to find ways to make that dream a reality.
Then a difficulty comes. Perhaps the results are slow to come. In the past, the ministry pioneers would endure and press in to see the dream accomplished. Today we assume it means God is no longer involved and so we move on to a new revelation from God.
We have allowed the culture of ease and comfort to determine the will of God for us.
Beta Christian - Spiritual Vertigo - The scriptures describes the Church1 as the body of Christ. Christ being the head of the church and each of us, being all members of His body. When each member of the body of Christ works as it should, the body is in balance and works perfectly together. However, when parts of the body are not in sync with the others, we lose the balance and end up experiencing a spiritual vertigo that affects not only that member, but the body as a whole.

Shawn Smucker - Why Sammy Screamed and What I Told Him  - “Sammy, it’s okay if you’re angry. I’m just going to hold you.”
And each time I said that, I felt his little muscles loosen. His enraged screams turned to heartfelt whimpers and then those trembling sobs. I know it’s a worn out cliche, but he literally melted in my arms.
A Deeper Story - Letter from a Charismatic Girl to the Suspicious - You get to do those things, if you want. You get to prophecy and speak in tongues. You get to heal. You get to operate in those gifts, but only if you really want to. God won’t force it upon you, and those of us who tried to force it? We were wrong.
The problem is though, you’ve strayed so far in the other direction – ridden that pendulum to the other extreme and then leaped out even further – and you can’t see that the Truth was in the middle. 
Grit and Glory - Pleading Not Guilty - And I mustn’t allow my guilt to force-feed my insatiable striving complex. Nor must I allow it to paralyze me into inactivity or apathy.
I had finally learned to step off the roller coaster and actually engage in doing something that would truly make a difference. Not fueled by guilt, but by hope.
I realized that it isn’t about being apologetic for what I have, giving everything away, or looking down on how much people spend at Starbucks. It is about stewarding what I have well, using it to serve, strengthen, and love others.

Red Letter Believers - Hide, but Don't Seek - And then there was long silence. That was a good sign that I wouldn't be found. Nervously, I peeked out, secretly hoping for discovery. But in the recesses of my mind came questions, the doubt. Did I do such a good job of getting lost, that I would never be found? Would I ever be discovered? Would they go home and forget the hunt? Would anybody really care?

Honest Toddler - Games - Are your ready for some football! Monday night par-tay! LOL, we’re not playing football. Or traditional hide & seek. The game we’re playing is far more complicated but interestingly enough, less structured. There are strict regulations that can change at a moment’s notice so it’s vital that you pay attention and watch me for cues.

Stuff Christians Like - The Worst Tool for Evangelism  - Jesus replies, “If you can? Everything is possible for one who believes.”
To which the father says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Jesus, sensing that the father was only 78% saved says, “Can’t do it. Disciples, get my boat! It’s time to bounce.”
Or he heals him and moves on. One of those two things happened.

The View from Here - Last Place Hero - “And also, I’m here to represent a country with lots of problems right now. Right now we are facing the loss of children, the loss family. There are bombs a lot in my country. The women in my country have lots of problems right now."

“What I face, I face all the challenges, cross all the problems, and right now I am here.
Beta Christians - When Saints Dress Up as Satan - Satan means “adversary”. The moment Peter foolishly rebuked his Lord because of his coming suffering, he was opposing the will of God. Jesus going to the cross and paying the price for humanity’s sin was God’s will and anyone who opposes His redeeming will is an adversary to God. No exception!
Peter acted emotionally, judging with human eyes the things of the Spirit, and by doing so he was looked upon as an adversary of God.