Sunday, December 7, 2008
When I left to go to church this morning, Aurora was covered in flat gray clouds. I could see blue sky off in the distance, but it was overcast and gloomy this morning. Kind of appropriate for the day. By the time I left church to return home, blue sky was emerging and the sun was peeking out.
A strong argument can be made that we forced Japan's hand, which led them to bombing us. We should've expected something along the lines of the attack on Pearl Harbor after what we did to them. Yet, all the text books in K-12 schools teach is that Japan attacked an innocent nation. I heard that in Japan, they teach their students a similar perspective about the bombs we dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I don't know how true it is, but don't really doubt that the horrors of the atom bombs are taught out of their historical context. Our textbooks do it, why wouldn't another country's?
Pearl Harbor holds a unique place in our country's history. We entered World War II as a result of the attack. By the end of the war, we were an international superpower. A title we continue to try and maintain in an ever changing world. There are other major developments out of the attack, but I don't have the time to go into them right now.
I really wanted to post links to museums and stories of survivors of December 7, 1941 (on both sides). Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of finals for graduate school. Getting lost in the history of today will have to wait for another time. Papers, presentations, and an exam are calling my name and require my time.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Recently, I've been mourning the loss of Fort Collins and how the move to Aurora has changed my life. Not that being in Aurora is bad, it has actually been good for me, but it hasn't been easy. I still miss driving up the Poudre, going to Horsetooth, and walking around City Park to clear my mind and heart. I really miss the little things, like walking into church and being greeted with a friend's trademark hug, observing the (often entertaining) interactions of the youth group, and catching up with a friend over pizza and a beer. It felt like home, Fort Collins feels like my home. And God asked me to leave it, which I did-with a rebellious heart, but I left when He asked me to.
God has been asking for more and more of me lately. A good thing, something that requires change on my part. In the midst of my excitement, I find myself grieving over some of the changes He's asking me to make. Lately, the grief has been more apparent than in recent months. Or, I feel like it's more apparent-maybe it isn't.
A couple weeks ago, I slipped back into the habit of letting my emotions determine my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Not the best plan, but it happened. Needless to say, its been a rough couple of weeks. I believe I'm back on track, but the grief over new changes God is asking me to make has been difficult to work through. There has also been a lot of challenging family stuff going on.
He's calling me to change some things in my life; I'm not sure how to change some of them and other areas I don't want to. I'm afraid that when I make the changes He's asked of me, I'll lose more than I'll gain. I'm aware that's a lie, but it seems so true today and it's one of the things holding me back. Some changes seem sudden to me, so I'm still listening and weighing what to do. However, one area isn't so sudden as the others and I'm still reluctant to obey.
My heart is breaking over these things and I'm frustrated with myself. I know His way is better than mine is, He's proven it so many times, but I still struggle with obedience. While He's given me a certain amount of clarity about why I'm grieving (something I didn't have a week ago), the process seems directionless and is still difficult. I have some tough decisions to make and then carryout over the coming weeks. But right now, my heart just hurts. As a dear friend used to say, "I'm sitting in the ashes today."
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I feel like Doris Day's character at the beginning of Midnight Lace, when she gets caught out in the bad London fog and someone tries to kill her. I identify with the panic the character experiences; the confusion about being lost and not having any bearings.
Recently, some pieces of my life haven fallen into place. The new pieces fitting have shifted others out. I know God is rearranging things for the better, but I'm feeling rather lost in the process. I know it's a hard process, it doesn't make it any easier though. I'm trying to trust Him more, but that's easier said than done.
Recently, a friend said I've been "off" lately. He/she didn't know what was really going on and I can't really explain it. I was a little sad at first that they realized I haven't been doing so well, but then was excited that they even cared to notice and mention it to me! This friend didn't accept the cheap shallow answers I tend to peddle to people. He/she saw beyond my front and pushed to dig deeper into my life. I need friends like this! I have so few of them, they're so precious to me. Most people are willing to remain outside my walls. There's nothing wrong with that, it's natural. But, I really appreciate friends who take the time and effort to get to know me and dig around in my life. It also meant a lot that he/she noticed and said something without me having to explain myself. I constantly explain myself to others-a habit I picked up years ago when I realized most people don't understand me or have no desire to understand me.
In the vein of being honest about things, this weekend has been a rather dismal for me. I was excited about the snow, but spent much of the time either on the verge of crying or ready to fly into a rage. Honestly, one of the highlights was remembering that I actually do have close friends who care deeply for me and consistently point me back to God, no matter what is going on in my life (or theirs).
I believe God likes my life messy, it means He's in there moving things to where they belong. I was lamenting earlier to a friend how much simpler life was a couple years ago. Granted, I had little to no desire to be alive and couldn't handle having friends in my life. But, there was a peacefulness then that has since disappeared. I know it was peaceful because I was largely comatose, the opposite of what God called me to do-live. Still, there are times that I miss that peacefulness. This weekend has been one of this nostalgic times for me. Strange, that I get nostalgic about lies-but that's where I've been lately.
A friend offered his/her complete support during this difficult time in the fog, for as long as God has me enveloped in it. I needed to hear that this evening, I needed to be reminded that God has me right where He wants me and He's with me. God should be my focus, not the fog-I'm so easily distracted. When will I learn?
Saturday, November 29, 2008
When it Rains
When it rains, I don't mind being lonely
I cry right along with the sky
When it rains, I don't pretend to be happy
I don't even have to try
When it rains, some people get down to sportin' a frown
So I fit right in
Yeah, the sun may brighten your day but if I had my way, I'd take the rain
This chorus has been running in my head almost from the time I woke up this morning. I have a couple ideas about why, but don't really want to think about them. Maybe finding a happier song would be good...
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I may be a historian, but the 1960s and the Cold War era are past my area of expertise. However, I do tend to be a conspiracy theorist about some things. The assassination of JFK is one area that fascinates me. With more than 2,000 books written on the subject and at least one new documentary released each year, the individuals involved and impact of the crime seem endless.
I won't go into the theories I've considered (and may accept as near truth). However, I will say that I find the entire Kennedy family intriguing and there's more there than meets the eye. Perhaps two lessons we can all learn from them are that the end does not justify the means and ambition at all costs will result in extreme pain and a life of loneliness.
I wonder how the world would be if JFK, MLK, and RFK were never assassinated. We'll never know, but they were three visionaries and leaders that shaped the world, their generation, and the generations after them.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I mentioned a while ago that an acquaintance wasn't respecting my boundaries. I had several friends make suggestions to me as to how I should proceed, all of which I welcomed by the way. I spent about a week trying to determine God's direction in this and then took a couple days to move in the direction I felt Him leading me. Totally not fun, but so valuable in the end!
For the last several years, I lived in a haze of self-doubt and second-guessing every decision regarding my friendships and God's leading in my life. I spent hours analyzing the most simple conversations and the potential motives of my friends. I was in jeopardy of running out of any church I walked into at the first opportunity. Whenever things got difficult, I ran away as fast as I could, as far as I could.
There have been times in the last two months when I thought of leaving the group I joined over the summer. It broke my heart to think of leaving, but things were getting too difficult (again) and I didn't believe that I correctly understood where God was leading me. There have been other issues at play regarding me leaving, and it felt like it was all coming to a breakingpoint. I was back to questioning Him in my life and ready to run.
Since the time I was in grad school (when I was in FPC), and cut all of my friends out of my life, I have distrusted God. To be honest, I had trust issues long before that, but something in my relationship with Him snapped during grad school. I opened the door for the lies and they immediately took up residence in my life, nearly killing me. Slowly, God has reclaimed those areas and brought me back to life. He's used this latest lesson as an opportunity to correct several things (or has started to correct).
Suddenly, I'm seeing how all of my trust issues are based on my relationships with people, not God. God has never abandonded me. He has never led me astray. I blamed Him for everything that happened in the college religious organization I joined. (I often refer this group as "the cult," something I suddenly feel led to stop doing-as I'm typing, we'll see how that goes). I felt like I couldn't trust Him or how I heard His leading in my life because I was in that group. I also felt as though I made unwise and poor decisions during that entire period of my life. In the end, I was so hurt by everything that happened and abandoned by those I loved, I let it break me to a point where I could no longer function.
He's slowly peeled away the layers and I'm seeing that He placed me there. There's no reason for me to not trust Him or my own decisions; I'm not inept and a stupid blonde-He placed me there and was by my side the whole time. I didn't make a bad choice by being there, it was where He called me to be. I was supposed to be there! I'm not sure why, but I know it was His will; I'm confident of it! (I know that's a lot of repition-I'm still shocked and excited about this revelation and keep repeating it different ways to try and fully grasp it. Sorry, moving on...)
I'm also confident that what happened the last ten months I was there happened because when He told me to leave, I refused and stayed. There were consequences for choosing my own path instead of His. However, His plan for me was to be with those people and have them be part of my life, for a time. I was just unwilling to follow anywhere He led me when He called me to move on. I couldn't understand how He wanted to me start over in the same city. (He got His way in the end, I started over several times in that city and have been so blessed by those friendships!)
To some of you, this may seem very simple and you may think that I should've realized this years ago. I think I got parts of it over the last couple of years, but it feels like the final piece of this puzzle is finally in place and I have complete peace about that time in my life. I'm no longer angry at God about it, I can fully trust Him. I feel as though a huge weight has lifted off me as I fully embrace this new perspective He's given me!
So, through this crazy, seemingly unrelated lesson, I'm learning to trust my relationship with God more and how/when He chooses to communicate to me through the Holy Spirit. Another blessing from this recent challenge has been that I know I can also trust my radar about certain people. I may be more sensitive than others, but there's nothing wrong with that. The individual who didn't respect my boundaries has shown me that he/she just isn't respectful, period. I don't need to be close friends with this person, I just need to pray for them and trust that God will bring someone into his/her life to help correct this behavior and attitude-it just isn't me.
Oh, and about leaving-I'm staying, until God calls me to move on to the next place. At least now I've learned how to move on while also allowing friends to remain in my life. I'm not very good at it, but I know I haven't shutdown and shut them out either. I'm still a work in progress, but aren't we all? =)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I was shocked to learn that the armistice was planned for weeks and they waited to sign it because the powers that be thought it would be interesting to end the war on 11/11 at 11AM. Thousands of men died that morning in battle trying to take one more hill here and there, even though the armistice was a forgone conclusion. A couple hundred of them had been in France since the first battles of the war and managed to survive until dying on the last day.
World War I fascinates me, it bridges the gap between the Industrial Age (or Gilded Age) and more modern times with which we easily identify. Horses, airplanes, tanks, machine guns, and poisonous gases were all used in World War I. In fact, all but horses were new to warfare and caused a stalemate for four years. The new concept of trench warfare and No Man's Land covered in mines and barbed wire didn't help the stalemate much. The war wiped out an entire generation of men in Europe, which left them vulnerable twenty years later during World War II.
Alright, enough with the history lesson. I'm so pleased that Veterans Day falls on the end of World War I and I know this date was chosen to honor our vets for that very reason. They sacrifice more for our country than I will ever fully know!
Take Me In
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen alter
Lord, I want to see Your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the priests who sing Your praise
I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness
And it's only found one place
Take me into the Holy of Holies
Take me in by the blood of the Lamb
Take me into the Holy of Holies
Take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am
The first time I heard this song, I was 12 or 13, at church summer camp for a week. The camp wasn't a very good experience. As I recall, I cried most of the time because the youth pastor scared the tar out of me with what he preached on. However, I remember hearing this song for the first time there and I pretty much sang it quietly to myself all the way back on the bus from camp. We were in Taos and returning to Denver.
Yeah, I was that strange little kid who sang to herself (I always have). I even used to sing to myself walking around on campus in college. One person from the church I attended passed me regularly between classes. He said he always recognized me because I always appeared to be mumbling to myself (he didn't know my name for almost a year). One day he figured out it was because I constantly walked around quietly singing and then he regularaly asked what songs were on my heart that day.
I consider it blessing to be able to sing-such as my voice is. As my dad would say, "I can barely carry a tune in a bucket." He always referred to his own voice when he said it, not mine, but it applies to me too. When I was an infant, the doctors swore I wouldn't be able to sing, they weren't sure I'd ever talk, run, or play outside. They told my parents that I may never live a normal life due to my physical limitations-God is so much bigger than the limitations I was born with! I love singing and music has always communicated to my heart in a way mere words rarely do.
After middle school, I didn't hear this song again until college when I was going through some tough times. The Holy Spirit always brings it to my mind at interesting times and it always deeply speaks to me. It's like an old friend and I'm excited to see why it's back now!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Posie is half Siamese and half tabby cat. While she looks more like a tabby, I'm convinced her personality is more Siamese. She operates with all these rules that I'm left to figure out based solely on her behavior. At least she makes it interesting!
One of her rules is that I must personally tell her goodbye when I leave the house. If I don't, she gets very upset and walks around looking for me and meowing (my mom told me this a couple years ago). She makes sure to snub me when I do return home, if I haven't followed this rule. She also has a head-butting greeting ritual she insists we follow whenever I walk in the front door.
I was out running errands yesterday afternoon and then had plans for the evening. I thought I would have time between the two and be home for a while in the afternoon; however, the errands took longer than anticipated and I had to come home, change, and leave right away again. I made sure to properly greet Po when I got home and I properly told her goodbye again.
Apparently, following her rules wasn't suitable to Posie last night, she just wanted me home. When I did return home, she greeted me in her normal fashion. My mom instantly asked me why I didn't tell Po goodbye when I left. Then I heard that Po sat in the living room and meowed in the most pitiful kitty cry my mom had ever heard from the time I walked out the door until I returned, hours later. This strange behavior continued for the rest of the night whenever I was out of her sight.
As I write this, she's currently sleeping on my arms-yes on-as in across them. My hands are starting to fall asleep with an 11 pound cat on them. I'm pretty sure she thinks I belong to her.
She's just a little bit of a diva, don't you think? ;-) Poor Posie, she's had a rough weekend...
Friday, November 7, 2008
Just be glad you weren't sitting next to me when the football went straight through Winslow's hands in the final 1:10 of the game! Imagine flailing arms and me screaming at the tv. I know that image will make someone laugh today. :-D
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Performed by Clay Walker
Written by: Clay Mills, Sonny Lemaire, and Shane Minor
You can listen to it here.
Oh, look, there you go again
Puttin' on that smile again
Even though I know you've had a bad day
Doin' this and doin' that
Always puttin' yourself last
A whole lotta give and not enough take
But you can only be strong so long before you break
Go on and fall apart
Fall into these arms of mine
I'll catch you
Every time you fall
Go on and lose it all
Every doubt, every fear,
Every worry, every tear,
I'm right here
Forget about the world tonight
All that's wrong and all that's right
Lay your head on my shoulder, and let it fade away
And if you wanna let go, baby, its okay
Hold on, hold on,
Hold on to me
Yeah, I'm a sucker for country ballads. These lyrics also represent how God is always there for me, no matter what kind of day I'm having. :-)
My hair is rather long right now. It has been longer in the past year, but it is still long. I go through shampoo and conditioner like there's no tomorrow. I've also been contemplating cutting my hair rather short again.
So, I was washing my hair this morning and thinking about something else in my life that God is giving me insight in to. Totally distracted from washing my hair. So distracted in fact that I paid no attention to the bottle I grabbed. I poured some of the contents into my hand and started rubbing it in to my hair. I realized there was no lather, but thought maybe I forgot to put anything in my hands. Yes, folks-I was that distracted. So, I reached for the bottle again, poured more into my hands, and realized there was still no lather. I was also a little confused as to why my hands were suddenly stuck and knots were forming in my hair. I pulled one hand out of my hair and grabbed the bottle I was pretty sure was my shampoo. Nope-conditioner! I had been putting conditioner straight into my hair; which for some reason was causing knots instead of removing them (probably due to having very fine hair). I figure my hair looks a little extra greasy today with all the extra conditioner now in it. :-)
I'm also left asking myself why I have long hair right now. In the last month I almost put body wash and shaving cream in my hair due to distraction-I caught myself in time for those. Those bottles also have completely different shapes, so that's a huge help.
To all those who know the inside jokes about the length of my hair from college-that is not why it's currently long! However, if you have any proof of that, I'd greatly appreciate that you share it with me! ;-)
Maybe it really is time for me to cut my hair or "chop it" as I say. At the very least, it needs to be trimmed, it's doing that annoying "V" thing in the back with all the layers again. But, I really wanted to wait until I was at my goal weight to cut it short again; I'm convinced the longer hair makes me look 5 pounds lighter. What girl doesn't appreciate that?
I welcome opinions-but don't promise to take any advice! Shocking, I know... :P
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Even in college and graduate school, I was highly private about the scores I received on exams and papers. It would usually take me hours (sometimes days) to even look at the notes and score out of fear that I failed. You have no idea how exasperated my friends would get with me! Well, actually, you do if you took classes with me and experienced the drill of me stuffing graded materials into my backpack before I or anyone else could see the outcome. :-) I would rarely even share my answers and corrected tests with study partners and friends in college, I was so embarrassed by how I did. Yeah, I was that bad about it. I actually had a professor in grad school who would pull me aside and verbally tell me my grade after class because it drove him crazy that I wouldn't look right away.
All of that to say, I received two grades in two different classes today that I was especially dreading. I still have an essay waiting to be graded (in a third class) and I'm nervous about it. However, God has been so good in my grades this semester! Oh, did I mention that a "B-" is failing? Yeah, just a little bit of pressure to do well. Kinda rough on a student who usually pulls "B's."
On the exam I was anxious over, I was given a 96%-far better than I thought I would do! I also scored 10/10 on my short essay that I wrote Sunday night. I couldn't believe that I was given 100% on this essay, it was rushed and I felt like it didn't properly address the questions. I also postponed writing it to go to FUSE, something I was really unsure of doing, but felt God nudging me to do and trust Him with this paper.
I've really been struggling with all these papers and school work the last couple of weeks and how they fit in with where God wants me to be spending my time and how to balance everything. Slowly but surely, I feel like I'm starting to figure some things out and am trying to stop relying on my own strength to get through classes and trust Him with all of it instead.
All that to say-Woohoooo!! God is awesome and has blessed me with grades far better than I think I deserve. Only five more weeks left in the semester! Then, I'll be almost a third of the way through my program-unbelievable!!
Friday, October 31, 2008
I thought I'd post some of the funnier pictures from college where I dressed up. Not always for Halloween either. The "nunnery" (as we affectionately called the last house I lived in during college) was full of silly girls who loved to play dress-up. :-)
Hope you all enjoy this crazy holiday and these (embarrassing) pictures!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The family has already started grieving and for me, it's bringing back a lot of memories about my dad's cancer. Planning for the holidays is taking on a whole new meaning this year. Including Thanksgiving, when my mom will be in Ohio with her family while I stay in Colorado (I have schoolwork to complete). That doesn't bother me, she needs to be there. I just need to find ways to spend the holiday in a positive way. I've thought of having my friends over, but many of them are visiting their own families. I guess I'll find out how God wants to use this time.
Next February will be ten years since my dad passed away. I don't know how those years have both flown by and passed achingly slow. I still miss him, almost every day. The hurt is different now than in those early years, but it is still there; I don't really expect it to ever go away. Since he passed away less than a month before my birthday, I haven't really celebrated my birthday since his death. I had a group of friends in college who worked really hard my senior year to give me a great birthday and they succeed. But, when left to my own devices, I just let it pass with little fanfare and still mourning my dad. I'm tired of letting the grief take over my life for upwards of a month. I want to do something fun and celebrate my birthday with friends this year! I also get that the grief this year will probably be bigger than the past couple of years, but I need to celebrate his life and stop focusing so much on my own loss.
Anyway, I was thinking about all this today as I'm struggling with an acquaintance who doesn't respect my boundaries. While absolutely frustrating, I'm thankful that I have this challenge. It means that I'm not living in my shell! I am actually making friends and letting people in, letting God crush some of the walls I have up to protect people from me. I know this situation will work itself out the way it's supposed to as long as I give it to God and stop trying to force a solution I want. Which requires that I be patient-not an easy thing for me. I get too that this is all tied into the study I'm doing and there's a certain level of spiritual warfare going on in me right now. Anytime I start to feel better about things, something like this usually happens and I derail-running back to my shell. I'm still tempted to do that, but I am fighting that urge because I've been there and know it isn't where I'm supposed to be.
The song Blessed Be Your Name was in my head most of yesterday morning and then I heard it on the radio. I almost pulled my car over, I was so overcome with emotion. I love how certain songs will just speak to me. I first heard the song when I was living in Bloomington. At that time, it was more about just trying to survive and thinking about God and my situation in a positive light. However, now the song is more about joy and the absolute peace and forgiveness I'm experiencing in Christ. I am so blessed, and He has blessed me in even in my darkest hours. Through the worst pain I've experienced in my life, I have been blessed! The lyrics are:
Blessed Be Your Name
by Matt Redman
Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I realized this morning that I haven't really posted about my girls- my two kitties. Their names are Isabelle “Izzy” and Posie “Po”. Izzy is the grey one, Posie is has the black and white stripes.
I got Izzy from a Denver shelter as a little kitten. I took one look at the tiny ball of fluff and had to take her home with me. Her little body was almost too small for all the fur on it, so for months she looked electrocuted because the fur stood on end! The shelter insisted she was 8 weeks, but she was probably no more than 4 or 5. I think she has a couple emotional issues from being taken away from her mom at such a young age. She carries around potholders (or soft fuzzy socks) and cries with them in her mouth. It's the most pitiful scene, but not much different than a kid with a security blanket sucking his or her thumb. Izzy has become a lap cat and is super sweet. She loves meeting new people and being in new places. Once she realizes we're somewhere new permanently, she gets upset, but for the first few days she's a happy little cat exploring away. She's also the princess of the two cats and plays the part for all it's worth to get her way. She'll sit and stare at you for you to play with her until you can't take it anymore. She also chatters at birds and bugs. Very entertaining-you always know when she's found some live creature to chase! Oh yeah, she also loves boxes and small spaces-of all kinds.
Posie is about a year younger than Izzy. I found Po in the newspaper and picked her out of her litter-mates when she was 10 weeks old. She's half Siamese and half Tabby, and built like a Tabby. I got her so she and Izzy would keep each other company while I was at work all day. As a kitten, Posie was a total lap cat and would fall asleep while being held (no longer the case). As she grew older though, she became skittish and solely my cat. She runs for the hills whenever the doorbell rings and won't come out for hours sometimes! I've finally learned to leave the door unlocked when I'm expecting friends and tell them to just come in. Posie is also very vocal-the Siamese in her. She chatters back at me when I tell her to get off the counters or out of drawers. Yes, she opens cabinet drawers and climbs in (usually after she manages to remove the contents). Very frustrating! She has all the rules that she prefers are followed for people to pet and visit with her. This is why we call her the Diva. She enjoys giving her friends head-butts from her throne (the kitty treehouse) when you return from being gone (for any length of time).
They get along alright, but aren't best friends. However, I know from experience that when I separate them, they get very upset and will meow until they're reunited. I learned this lesson while driving across the country with them in separate carriers. They're sooo much quieter when they're in one together. I have many stories about my cats! They've been with me in my darkest hours and a comfort and joy as life has slowly returned to normal. Oh, Posie also squeaks when held just right! I think that's enough for now-I'm off to get some schoolwork done!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The next question in the study is, "Without being legalistic, but simply being obedient, ask yourself: are you willing to let it go to pursue the truth?" To be honest, I paused for a minute or two before committing to let it go. But, I see that it has taken up more space in my life than it should and I am willing to back off and spend that time doing whatever God places in my life. A couple days later, a friend invited me to a hang out with people this week (during Grey's).
Last year (probably even last month), I would have just stayed home to watch the show or watched it the next day online. While online is still an option-I think the point God wants me to get is that it's just a show. A show that while I enjoy it, it should not control any aspect of my life. I shouldn't plan my weekly schedule around it, especially not my time with Him. I'm going to try really hard to not watch the episode online this week or read about it in blogs, or anywhere else. To just miss it and be ok with missing an episode.
The last couple of weeks haven't been easy for me. I feel like I just keep messing things up, and the old me would have gotten really down about it. Now, I see that making mistakes and confronting certain things in my life are progress and nothing to be ashamed of. It may take me longer than I would like to figure it out, but God is working and that's all that matters.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I was struck by a passage in God Calling today. "Do not dwell upon the past. You make My Sacrifice of no effect. No! realize that in Me you have all, complete forgiveness, complete companionship, complete healing."
I'm so tired of partially living in my past and letting it negatively affect my present and future.
I was recently (unintentionally) hurt by a close friend. What I'm realizing is that it hurts so much because this thing managed to dig into a deep part of the remaining hurt from my years in the cult. Areas of pain this friend was unaware of. Some of those lies I was told over and over again have remained and stay somewhat hidden. Only when something like this event happens, do I become aware that the lies are still there and I still believe parts of them.
In an attempt to protect others from me (one of the lies was how emotionally dangerous I was), I don't let people get emotionally close to me. I keep them at a distance and then wonder why no one really knows me.
God is definitely at work here, at least I no longer feel like a worn battle ground. Instead, I see life returning and God's healing power. I just need to let Him keep working and stop dwelling on my past. He's forgiven me and is healing me. The present and future are far more important now.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I've been doing pretty well, but many extended family members and friends have been dealing with illness and grief. So, its been a rough month emotionally, but only as it relates to those around me that I love.
So, I have a daily devotional book that I bought on the first anniversary of my dad's death. It's titled God Calling and was written by two women circa World War II and what they felt God communicating to them during their darkest hours and most encouraging days. The thought for today, October 8 is:
The Dark Places
Jesus, the very thought of Thee with Sweetness fills us.
Yes. Love Me until just to think of Me means Joy and rapture. Gladness at the thought of One very near and dear.
It is the balm for all sorrows, the thought of Me. Healing for all physical, mental, and spiritual ills you can always find in thinking of Me, and speaking to Me.
Are doubts and fears in your hearts? Then think of Me, speak to Me. Instead of those fears and doubts there will flow into your hearts and beings such sweet Joy as is beyond any joy of Earth.
This is unfailing. Never doubt it. Courage. Courage. Courage. Fear nothing. Rejoice even in the darkest places. Rejoice.
This thought strikes such a chord with me today and over the last weeks and months. I've been so emotional about all the sadness and illness, and grieving over leaving Fort Collins that I haven't been very joyful lately. I'm thankful that this time when God asked me to leave, my health is present and I can actually grieve over it without getting too wrapped up in the grief. This morning, I awoke feeling a burden lifted and ready to fully embrace being in Aurora and focusing on serving Him here. This passage spoke to me and reminded me that I'm not alone in this and all I have to do is turn to Him. I often forget that and try to do things on my own and be independent. When will I really learn that independence is not what He asks of me?
Russell, A.J. editor. God Calling. Barbour Publishing, Inc. Uhrichsville, Ohio, 1989.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I've been reading about birth order and its affect on our personality traits from a Christian perspective. The book was published more than twenty years ago, so some things may be a little outdated. However, I still find it interesting. I found it while packing up the books in my mom's bookcase last week (during the packing for the carpet replacement).
This topic has always interested me, though I don't believe it fully explains everything about my personality, it does shed some interesting light on things I've questioned over the years. I've been struggling with my determination and self-reliance lately. I also noticed that I have been picking verbal fights with people for little or no reason recently as well.
The author suggests that first-borns (that's me!) are typically outgoing, controlling, conservative, and leaders. They are raised to be concerned with continuing the family's values and pushed to succeed. What I appreciate about her perspective is that there are worldly and Godly ways these traits differ from each other and she illustrates them with clear examples. I have always struggled with fully releasing all of my life to God and trusting Him with it. I seem to constantly scheme a way around what God has called me to do and get my own way in the situation. She points out that determination and self-reliance aren't bad, but when they're employed outside of God's plan they frequently have far-reaching negative consequences.
Returning to school is a perfect example of this. I resisted going back to school for another degree for more than a year. I realized in Indiana (2006) that I would need a MLIS to work as an archivist, but tried to find a way around it. God provided me with another job for a year in Fort Collins. It was good, but not the year I envisioned for myself when I knew I would get to return there. At the end of the year, school was the only option I had left.
I did everything I could to not be in Aurora. Growing up here holds many unpleasant (with some pleasant) memories and I have always disliked Aurora. After accepting that I needed to return to school and the best way was to move back to Aurora to save on the cost, I'm still scheming of ways to get out of here. Despite God showing me time and time again that this is where He wants me to be right now, I try to run away. Each time I think I'm done scheming, I find myself in another situation where I've tried to find a loophole in the situation that will get me out of Aurora (at least partially).
I'm trying really hard to cede control of this over to God. To let Him provide for me and heal all the past hurts that I've carried with me all these years. Eventually, God will win. I just want it to be sooner rather than later. I'm going to try to apply my determination to not find loopholes and accept where I am and follow where He leads me. We'll see how it goes! :-D
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I know there are still several days of competition left, but I'm over it. I have Olympic burnout! Enough coverage. I haven't even watched the online coverage and I'm done. I just can't absorb any more of it. I watched the swimming and gymnastics. The two sports I care most about during the Summer Games. They're over and I don't think I can handle all the Track and Field that remains, plus the team sports that are still going!
I'm so tired of watching sports that I don't even want to watch college football right now. The season starts in a couple weeks and I've been looking forward to it all spring and summer! And what is with all the Manning commercials for ESPN? Enough! I get it, they're the quarterback dynasty of the NFL. I can only hope my burnout doesn't extend into the college football season.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
My dad would be so proud of my mom and me! Boo managed to destroy the carpet over the last couple of years and we decided that it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
In the course of an afternoon and evening, we removed all the carpet in the living/dining room and I removed all the tacking strips (for safety)! I used a flathead screwdriver and hammer to get the tacking out of the concrete subfloor.
Due to the damage Boo caused to the subfloor, we have to remove all the rest of the carpet ourselves as well. We need to seal the damage before new carpet is installed and the carpet installers won't deal with pet stains.
Guess how I'm spending the next couple of weekends?
Watching all those home DIY shows with my dad for years finally paid off! :)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
There's something about ugly duckling movies that has always appealed to me. Maybe it's because I see myself as an ugly duckling. I don't always fit into other people's idea of what I should be. This isn't bad, it just makes for a sometimes exciting but lonely existence. It also has taken me a while to figure out that it only bothers me as much as I let it bother me. However, I think I'm finally moving out of seeing myself as an ugly duckling and becoming the unique person I'm supposed to be.
That's enough deep thinking for a Friday afternoon! I'm so excited about seeing my friends from the Fort tomorrow and discussing the women's retreat for this fall with them!!!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Today has been difficult. When my mom woke up, I learned that she decided it was time to put-down her dog Bandit "Boo." We've known for a while this time would come but I wasn't planning on it being today.
He was 13 years old and very loved. I'm still a little too shocked by it, but I know it was the right decision. Boo has suffered from dementia and incontinence for years, but it was still hard to say goodbye. He's served a special place in my family. He was the last pet we had as a family. My family has been blessed that all our pets have been passed on largely due to old age. They haven't died young or had serious lingering illnesses that drastically shortened their lives. Since Boo was the last of our pets to have ever known my dad, today is the passing of another era. Yet another step further away from my dad. I know these will continue to occur the rest of my life, but that doesn't make them any easier.
Boo hasn't been himself the last couple of months as the dementia took more and more control of his little puppy mind. My brother and I gave him the nickname "Boo" because he was Mindy's sidekick and the brains of the operation. Mindy was my brother's dog and she passed on years ago. They were quite the team, just like Yogi and Boo Boo.
Tonight all I want are comfort foods, a good cry (preferably one that doesn't result in a headache), and hugs from my family and friends.
Boo's favorite playmate was my brother. His favorite game was anything my brother invented and played with him for hours on end. When my brother wasn't available, the little stuffed frog "Kermie" was a great stand-in. He also loved to wash toes and had a fondness for cats. Cats were his size and great pals in his opinion. No matter how many cats have joined the household over the years, he always welcomed them as playmates. He also knew all his toys by name and would retrieve which ever one you told to him to get, quite an impressive feat!
My favorite activity with Boo was opening gifts. It was a game that he really only played with me. He would help me tear off the wrapping paper by pulling on the end I gave him. I will miss you, Bandit! You were a great puppy and member of our family!
I have several friends with blogs and enjoy being able to keep up with their lives (to varying degrees) via this technology. I even started a blog a couple years ago on another site, but never really did much with it. While I'm a chatty person, posting my thoughts or things going on in my life online doesn't appeal to me. However, since my courses are all online, I need to get over that fear or I won't do well in school.
For the past four years or so, I've become very adept at keeping people at a distance. I was so hurt by my friends in college that I shut down emotionally and have just limped along through life since then. I have close friends who have managed to break down some of my walls, but as one observed a year ago, I've "learned my lessons too well." I know I still have many walls up, but several have fallen in the last year. The protected life I've been living is not how God created me to be.
I recently moved back to Aurora after a year in Fort Collins and was not happy about the move. I didn't understand why God would want me to be somewhere I so desperately desired to avoid. I still don't fully understand His reasons for having me here, but amazing things have been happening since I've stopped fighting Him on it. I've even moved past just accepting it and have started to embrace being here and making friends. It never ceases to amaze me that the Holy Spirit prepares my heart to hear what God has to say to me.
This past Sunday's sermon was on living out your life completely for God, to be consumed by Him. Being consumed by anything but myself has been a huge fear of mine in the last four years. I've tried my best (on and off) to live a balanced Christian life. After everything I've been through, that's all I could handle. But now? Now, I'm tired of life as I've been living it. It hasn't been nearly as fulfilling as I know living God's life for me can be. I want to be consumed by God; I know that things I've grown attached to will disappear, but in the end I will be so much closer to the woman He created me to be. Finally, that's all I want.
I think Aurora is becoming a place of healing for me instead of the place of pain it once was in my life. To quote a song I heard in middle school, "God's promises are rainbows in the night." I don't remember much else about the song, but that line has stayed with me all these years. It's so true because if nothing else, I've learned God is there for me in my darkest hour and turns it into a thing of beauty.
All of this to say, I'm finally coming out of my hiding place of the last four years. I'm going to let God knock down my walls. And I think a step of that is blogging, it's a way to let people in.