Wednesday, December 27, 2006


"Sanity's a one-trick pony. I mean, you only get one trick! But if you're good and crazy, the sky's the limit!"- The Tick

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nobel Peace Prize

I'm surprised to care about the Nobel Prize this year. Ordinarily it is a mere blip in my consciousness and I could not name more than a few prize winners ever. This year, however, I am moved to find that Mohammed Yuniks and Grameen Bank share the Peace Prize.

I have seen interviews with Yuniks before and been touched that he was moved to do what he could and that what he could do, seeming so small, made such a huge difference in people's lives. With $27.00 he loaned to the people of a small village, they were able to get out from under the moneylenders and work their way into financial freedom. Their children were able to go to school. It's a wonderful story, all the more so because it is true.

The Bible says he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much, and I guess this is true of this man. Seeing a small thing he could do, he did it.

This is what I need. This year, when we are so broke, I am doing the little I can, first giving to my church, what little I can give, then giving to the One campaign. It is a little thing. Unbelievably small..

Great things are done with little; can you believe that a child can be supported for a month for $32? That is what Compassion asks to provide food, clothing and an education for a child. In the world in which I live, $32.00 will not provide much of anything. It will not pay the light bill, the phone bill, the water bill, it will not clothe me or fill my gas tank, but half a world away, $32.00 is an enormous sum of money.

In my world, many people won't even bend over to pick up a dollar bill if it falls to the ground, but the one campaign is using the proceeds of wristbands costing $1/each to help alleviate and work toward ending some of the worst suffering and injustice of our day.

I know many Christians who would scold me for having a "social gospel", but the Bible says we are to do it "unto the least of these". "He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8.

To do justly. To love mercy. To bind up the wounds, to care for the orphans and widows in their distress...

Imperfect as it may be, the One campaign is working to do justice and to be merciful to the poor, to declare a year of jubilee, to release the poor from their debtors, and to show mercy and humankindness to peoples stricken by AIDS. Are there other causes? Yes. International Justice Mission, Compassion, World Vision. You may have your own. This is my choice.

One little person doing the small things put in front of me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the one small thing I can do blossomed into something like Grameen Bank? Let's be faithful in little friends.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Christmas Poem - 2006

In the toughest of times
The seasons still change
Winter comes round
Bringing Christmas again
I’m tempted to shut down
to simply hibernate
close the blinds, turn the phones off
say to all “Go away!”
But in the tough times HE came
In a lowly cattle stall
He came as a baby
Helpless and small
To Joseph and Mary
So far from their home
To the city of David
By edict from Rome

The tough times had just started
The family soon fled
When the angel warned them
What was in Herod’s head
He would kill all the young ones
To be rid of the king
The stars had announced
And the wise men had seen.

It was tough to be walking each day
Town to town
No home, no bed, no pillow they found
Hunted and praised, revered and reviled
Surely wrong for God’s only child

It was the Father who sent him
And to him he cried
As he prayed in the garden
No one at his side
His sweat like blood
So tormented was he
By the pain he saw coming
Up on Calvary

“Not my will, by thine.”
In submission complete
To pain he went forward
As he rose to his feet.
It was pain and rejection
The sin of the world
On the face of perfection
Such insults were hurled.

He cried out in pain and deep agony
But still he went forward for you and for me
It was the tough times the worst of the worst
And he went through it all for he thought of me first

So this Christmas I remember
The God born to man
The son of the father
Salvation’s only plan
And I sing through my tears
Of that holy incarnation
My Jesus, My Savior
The hope of the nations

My troubles seem smaller
As I remember this
My heart so much lighter
As I walk in the midst
Of truths so profound
I cannot comprehend
That God to this world
His own Son did he send
For miserable people
The worst and the least
No other could save us
But our great High Priest.

Life is Hard but God is Good

I do not negate any of what I said previously. It is legitimate to wonder, to question, to wrestle, if you will, with God. I still don't understand what he allows, but I am not beating myself up for the struggle. After all, Jesus, the very God-in-flesh, struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane. His struggle was far worse than mine, for his suffering was to be far greater than I can even imagine. If he struggled and asked to be let out of his suffering, I am comforted that it is okay for me to struggle. I need to follow his example and his conclusion, which was "nevertheless, not my will, but yours." I do that. Begrudgingly, perhaps. With resignation, sometimes. But I do submit to the will of God.

With this latest struggle I have come to a place of peace. Peace at last. I have come to find that I have friends that truly care, even if they do not understand. I have friends that are there for me in ways I especially needed, and that I have people in my life who understand the struggle and will not beat me up or preach at me for struggling.

I have asked God to allow me to be shifted off my axis, to have a complete shift in view if it will allow me to have a closer, deeper relationship with him, and I have embarrassed myself by crying in front of nearly everyone I know.

Today and yesterday I feel like the burden has been lifted in small and large ways. Oh, I'm still unsure that we will get out of this in the financial shape we had planned on. We have had to take on more debt to get through it, but I do see the way to the other side.

On that side I feel a greater sense of compassion and purpose and mission toward the truly poor in this world. Even more I believe that I cannot turn my back on or ignore the horrors going on in the world beyond my country.

Yes, there are poor here, but for most of them it is not a matter of a roof, just the size of that roof. For most it is not a matter of clothing, but the kind and style of that clothing. Please don't misunderstand, I know about the great financial pressures there are in this country because of our affluence relative to much of the world. The poor in our country are not immune. It takes more money to live in poverty in this country than it does to live in wealth in some others. I understand that.

But there are few people in this country who are literally starving to death. In many other countries there are people who starve to death every day. There is an entire continent that has been ravished by AIDS, leaving it's children orphaned and raising other children, with NOTHING.

In my shortsightedness and pride I have found myself thinking at times that a lot of these problems are brought on by the corruption of governments and are the result of sinful lifestyles, and so allowed myself the luxury of doing nothing.

What I think God is showing me is that I have no right. For when I was dead in my own trespasses and sins, Christ died for me. He came not because I was upright and moral, but because I was without hope. How then can I claim to be his follower and do nothing to help those who are without hope? How can I refuse to aid people around the world made in his image because I don't like how they are living? When was that option presented?

So, part of what I am thinking about is how to revamp my financial world so that I am living a lifestyle that I can afford and support, and finding ways to save and alter those expenses so that I can fulfill one of the purposes that God has for me. How can I continue to live up to the very top of my income, living in fact like most Americans, and be unable to help those in need. I who have so much, should never be grasping after more.

Once we are out of this mess, and in gratitude for God's help through this mess, I must put my time talents and treasures to help the poor, the sick, the downtrodden.

To this end, I have been moved by a rock star. Someone I have looked at in disdain in the past for what seemed like arrogance. I have watched an interview with Bono. I have seen in twice in its entirety and another time in an abbreviated version. The heart of this man and the simple truths he talked about, and his call to the church to take up the cause of the poor, the downtrodden, the sick and those living without justice speaks to me. I hear the voice of God saying, "Listen. This is for real."

So I am trying to find ways to be a part. You may have noticed the "One Campaign" information on this page. I am more committed than ever to this as one of the venues God is using. I don't believe that I should not do what I believe is the right thing just because some immoral, amoral, hedonistic Hollywood actor types are part of it. In fact, I should probably be ashamed that they have gone where God's church should have led the way.

We are His hands, we are His feet. We have worried so about keeping His hands and feet unsoiled that we haven't done the work he asked of us in Matthew 25.

Anyway, that's where I am today. I am much more at peace with God. Do I understand? No I don't. Do I like what has been happening? NO. But I will cling to God's words which tell me that he is good and loving, merciful and kind and that he has my very best interests at heart. At the very least he has His best interests at heart, and seeing how he spent his time and gave himself in the past, how can I doubt that he is working some grander purpose here?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

When Life is Hard...

I won't go into all the datails, but life has been incredibly difficult the past couple of months. Problems pile on top of problems, crisis after crisis. No sooner do I crawl back onto my feet from one blow than the rug is pulled out from under me again.

This is a real crisis of faith. Well, I'm not sure that's the right way to state that. I believe that God is in control, that he loves me and that he has my best interests at heart. I also believe that he lets incredibly terrible things happen to me. Not just to me, but to a lot of us. I don't understand it. I truly don't.

I don't know how to reconcile the God who lets terrible things happen to his people and the God who gave all for me. How does the same God give his own son, his own son who is fully God and fully man and who gave his own life, how is it that he tells Satan that he can do what he wants with Job except killing him. So Job has any number of calamities that befall him. His children all die, his wealth is gone and then his health is destroyed. His "friends" berate him, telling him that it is because of something he has done, basically that he deserves what is happening.

God's response is a long talk with the basic message that we cannot know the mind of God and that we should not so presume that we should.

I do not know the mind of God. I was not there when he formed the universe. I was not there when he hung the stars. I was not there when he taught the morning star to sing. I admit this. I do not in any way suggest that I should know how things should go. I do say that these things suck and I cannot fathom how they can be from the hand of a loving God. He is not cruel, though these things seem cruel. He is not capricious, though his ways sometimes seem so. These things seem diabolical. I say these things from my mind. My heart is completely different. My heart is crying out "why?" or rather "why me?" I wonder if I have done something to deserve this, and I wonder if there is something about me that should expect life to suck so that I am not completely blindsided by suffering, by pain.

This latest trial , or series of trials has me questioning not my faith, but who God is. I mean who is he really? Can we ever understand even a portion of who he is?

I keep hearing snippets of Scripture in my mind. "Shall we accept good from his hand and not evil?" "My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts." (paraphrased of course). Parts of God's discourse to Job keep coming back. The "where were you" or "were you there when" portions are filling my mind.

I've been reading Jeremiah, and thinking about what God has allowed in his peoples lives, and what he has asked them to do, knowing the enormous pain and suffering that would be to come. It is unfathomable to me. I try to tell myself that it is because I cannot see beyond this world, cannot see outside of time, but the truth is that I am really upset.

I go back and forth between pain and anger and trust. I am beginning to understand the words of Peter in a new way. When Jesus asks him if he is going to leave with the others who have taken off due to a very uncomfortable teaching and strange words he has said, Peter replies "Where else can I go? Yours are the words of eternal life." In the past I thought these were brave and noble words and imagined them spoken with trust and faith and resolve. Now I hear them said with resignation, wearily, perhaps in frustration and anger. Where else can I go? There is nowhere else for me. If God isn't who he says he is then all is lost anyway.

The question remains how do I reconcile these disparate images of God, these two truths about God? How do I reconcile his goodness and lovingkindness, his mercy and his grace with the horror that he allows his people to go through? How do I deal with Job? How do I deal with Stephen being stoned? How do I handle all of the imprisonments of his people? I know we do not live for today, but we have to live in today. We feel all of our sufferings. We are not immune from the pains even if we know the reason for it, which I don't.

I feel I have lost my reputation, my good name. We have worked hard to restore or credit after previous difficulties, but it seems that the moment we come close to pulling out of the mess, we have another series of troubles that keep us from ever really pulling out altogether.

This latest series of downturns is more disappointing and upsetting than any that have gone before. Perhaps because it seems so capricious and unbelievable. The constancy of the pressure is wearing me down.

Satan is really giving me a hard time, whispering things at me that would deflate me. I don't know how much of the distress I am feeling is the result of Satan's work; of him telling me things to cause doubt, distrust, defeat and discouragement.

I'm fairly certain that some of what I am feeling is the result of his work--the persistent feeling that I have been singled out for God's punishment, his discipline, his displeasure. So I'm spending a lot of time trying to think through things. How can I be singled out for his punishment, discipline and displeasure when I was also singled out for his unbelievable gift of salvation. Compared to that why should I fight against whatever God sends me?


Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Can't, I Won't and You Can't Make Me

I think one of the hardest things to do in this life is to ask for help. I've had to learn to ask for help with some things (like lugging the 50 lb. sack of dog food out of the cart and into my truck), but I still don't ask for help out with the groceries even if I'm limping like a three-legged dog. There is a prideful part of me that says I should not ask for help unless I really need it, which means if it cannot possibly get done any other way. A painful limp does not make it impossible, merely difficult, so I stick my chin out and do it my own self.

I have carried this to ridiculous extremes at times, refusing to ask someone else to open the jar of spaghetti sauce, for instance. I have not ever had a hard time letting someone else change my tire, though. Not sure why, maybe because I've never had to ask, kind gentlemen just stop and offer their assistance (thus making gracious acceptance the right thing to do).

Probably the most difficult thing for me is to ask for financial help. This is humbling and humiliating beyond anything I can think of, aside from a public pelvic exam. I don't know if this is a universal human reaction, or an American reaction or merely my own, but this is something I DO NOT do. The situation has to be dire.

Lately the situation has been dire, and today, coming to the end of myself, I was forced to ask a friend for help. I don't know if I could have gotten the words out, but her help was offered before I could even ask, and part of me, the hugest part of me, my pride, my sense of who I am wanted to say, no thank you, I'll be fine. She would have known I was lying.

Let me suggest to any of you who want to go into contracting, either as a general or a sub-contractor, that you carefully calculate your estimated costs and expenses, your equipment and staffing needs, weigh them, add them, go over them twice, and when you have come up with the minimum required number, double it. This is the minimum of what you need to make this work. From the start hire a good bookkeeper, buy the right software and put someone in charge of ensuring that billings are done, that collections are pursued and that all bills are reviewed and paid.

If you are a general contractor, let me make this plea--never let your subs dangle. Always pay them on time, and do due diligence with the owner to ensure that they have the financial capability to do the project and verify as best you can that they will not leave you and your subs hanging out to dry.

Do not assume that huge projects for Fortune 500 companies are safe. Assume that they will be worse than just about anyone else in paying their bills.

Unless you do this, you could take on projects that will give you sleepless nights worrying about paying your bills, worrying about hanging your subs out to dry. You could leave your subs begging for money to meet payroll.

If you are considering being a subcontractor, please carefully consider your ability to carry the full cost of jobs on your back for 60 - 90 days. For though payments are supposed to be made within about 20 days, I can assure you that is rare. If you find a company that treats you well and fairly, and pays on time, never undervalue that relationship.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A poem by Madeleine L'Engle

...Set To The Music Of The Spheres

Pain is a partner I did not request;
This is a dance I did not ask to join;
whirled in a waltz when I would stop and rest,
Jolted and jerked, I ache in bone and loin.
Pain strives to hold me close in his embrace;
If I resist and try to pull away
His grasp grows tighter; closer comes his face;
hotter his breath. If he is here to stay
Then I must learn to dance this painful dance,
Move to its rhythm, keep my lagging feet
In time with his. Thus have I a chance
To work with pain, and so may pain defeat.
Pain is my partner. If I dance with pain
Then may this wedlock be not loss but gain.

So beautifully put. Such an elegant wonderful turn of phrase. How well I know the agony of this dance.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is there any thing too hard for me?

The sign I have put over my desk reads:

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there any thing too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

Is there any thing too hard for God? I have been thinking about this because we are in the midst of serious financial hardships. Some of it is our own foolishness, and some of it is because some of our contractors (like most general contractors) do not pay on time. If they had paid on time we would be fine, but the underlying situation which makes this extra difficult is that we need to put in better financial controls both personally and professionally. So, in the past several weeks I have been to Starbucks once. That's right, once.

The flavored creamers aren't the same as the foo-foo coffee drinks I so love, but they are cheaper and somewhat satisfy the taste buds. As I have been having a coffee instead of breakfast, I'm not ready to give it up entirely.

I wish I could say that I am able to turn my fears over to the Lord and cast them completely away and live in a state of total trust. I wish. I have an invasive cancer called fear. I have had huge areas of it cut away, and been treated with radical chemotherapy and radiation (previous trials, and scriptural medicine) but now and again, stresses come and we find new pockets of the disease that must be treated radically. Stamping out this disease so that no cells can be left alive. But still, it is not a magic pill. It is a deliberate treatment and sometimes the medication doesn't appear to be working, but with persistent application of the cure, I am confident that this newest outbreak of the cancer of fear will be irradicated. As I am learning, there may be new outbreaks, and you can never be complacent about this.

But the healing is the same. Massive doses of prayer and repentance, asking for God's healing touch, and massive doses of scripture. Or, sometimes a single dose of scripture repeated many times throughout the day. It includes meditation on what God has done in the past for others, and in my own life. It is a determination to trust. Not a feeling of trust...that comes after stepping forward. It is the determination that I will trust. With God's help. Throw myself at his feet and crying for help. It is admitting to others where I am falling down and availing myself of their assurance of God's goodness.

I will bless the Lord at all times. Ah yes, but I will tell him how I feel, and what I think. I will not pretend with the God who knows what I am in the deepest parts of me, better than I know myself.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Will Work for DSL

So....I applied for a seasonal job at Macy's today so I could pay my real estate bills and have DSL at home now that Steve has moved into an office. I think it would be so much fun! I should go to work for Starbucks. I'd be awesome and am a total fan of the products! Most of the people are awfully young though, so I wonder if I'd have a chance of being hired there.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Holy is the Lord

Holy is the Lord and worthy of all praise. Worthy of all honor and glory and praise. Worthy of the song of the stars, the whisper of the wind in the trees, the rustle of grass in the breeze, of birdsong, of the brilliance of the sun, the glisten off streams, worthy of the adoration of choirs of angels. Worthy of the praise of his people.

His Holiness is above all I can think. His worth is above anything I can offer. His glory is beyond my comprehension. His greatness of his gift is unknowable, His thoughts unreachable, His mercy unsurpassable. He is more than I can ever know, or appreciate.

He is THE author of all words, his the Creator who inspires all creativity, He's the conductor, the songwriter, the craftsman creating the vessels to sing his song. He's the painter, his the palette. All creation owes the intricacy of it's design to Him

Oh God. You are worthy. You alone. You alone are worthy of worship. You alone the source of glory. You are the source, the inspiration, the ultimate act of love. Your gift is unapproachable, immeasurable, overwhelming.

I thank you with everything I am able, and offer you all the love I am capable of. Let my life give you glory. Let the weakness in me reveal your strength and be glorifying to you.

Dark Corners

When we are depressed, everyone immediately seems to tell you to reach for a bottle of medication. I don't have an objection to the medication, but sometimes we are depressed because there is something in our life we haven't dealt with and we need to ferrit out the buried problems and make what changes we can or learn to accept the unchangeable, rather than let it be a constant source of frustration. There have been some struggles that I have really needed to take a look at, but some things needed to come to light before I could know whether what was niggling at me was an awareness of a bigger problem or whether it was an over-reaction or unfounded fear. Some things have resolved themselves for better or worse, and some others are coming to light and I'm not liking what I'm seeing. The depression is that I don't want these things to be true. I don't want to make the decisions that these things require. I've been hoping I was wrong, but alas.

Still, whatever the problem, I guess it's better to have it coming to light rather than in the dark. In the dark you don't know what that noise is. You don't know if the crash you heard in the dark is a rake finally succumbing to gravity or an intruder bent on theft or worse. The eyes peering from a dark corner could be your cat or a rabid raccoon. Anyway, I've gone on too long with my illustration.

It appears that it's not the family cat in the corner, but it's not clear whether the raccoon is tame or rabid.

I'm not prepared to go into all the details, but it's not clear whether the worship team is working out, and the time I've spent waiting for dawn to see what was waiting in the corner has been trying. And now, I am waiting some more to find out whether the raccoon is one I can live with or not.

I'm so sad it wasn't the family cat.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Giving In

Steve and I got into it over the dogs. He got very angry and quit speaking to me. The details don't matter, but I felt he was seriously over-reacting and crossed a line, and needed to apologize. Apologies seem to be my role, but I was righteously indignant and felt that if I made the apology I would give him permission to do the same thing again and again, so I remained silent.

We were in the truck heading to Oklahoma. The atmosphere was quite chilly, each of us resolute. I was determined to come from a position of strength, and taking the first step felt like weakness.

Then I began to think of how God treats me. Even though I am wrong, behaving poorly, and obviously in the wrong (if there is a disagreement between me and God, it is pretty obvious that am the one in the wrong) it is always God who reconciles with me. Is he weak for doing so? No. Do I lose respect for him? No. So why should I behave differently? If God who is totally just, totally holy, totally righteous comes after me when I am clearly in the wrong, why should I not make the move to reconcile when I am never certain to be 100% correct?

My pride should never keep me from trying to act like God does. Why is it that my finest thinking falls so far short? I must have the input of the Holy Spirit explaining the nature of God to me or I would be convinced that my thinking in this and other matters was right. Once the nature of God in this matter became clear, all the anger and indignation I had been holding onto deflated.

OK in OK

Monday night we got a call that our son Craig was finally in the states, back from Iraq. He wanted us to come to his arrival ceremony in Lawton, Oklahoma the following day. We left very early on Tuesday and drove straight through. Unfortunately we overslept and left about an hour after we had planned to. We also forgot that we would lose an hour. We missed the ceremony by about an hour, but we did get to see our son. He looks great. We also met the girl he is seeing, though we don't know how serious it is. How serious could it be when he's been in Iraq for the past year?

Anyway, we went out to dinner, took him to get a cell phone, went bowling, went to bed, got up at 4:45 and drove home.

I wish I was a painter to capture the fields in northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. The fields were so beautiful. I would have to paint them in watercolors to represent the subtle shades of russet, ambers, browns, greys, yellows, silvers and even blues found in the autumn fields. The grasses along the roadside were a bluish-grey usually only seen by the light of a winter moon. It took my breath away, all under the light of azure skies. One set of shades on the way there gave way to a different set on the return. What trick of light took all the orange and reds from the same fields? Interesting too how the ground went from pale and grey to dark volcanic soil to tans and even reds in Texas.

The return trip today revealed pronghorns singly and in groups by the dozen. Cattle of every shade ignored by pronghorns sometimes only noticed by their white rumps, so well do they blend into the hillsides.

It's absolutely insane to drive to Lawton one day and return the next. I feel like I could sleep for a week.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Going to the Dogs

The past 8 days have been all about dogs. Our dogs have disappeared 6 times, and we've spent a great deal of time, gas, money and emotion in retrieving them. We are looking at how to repair the new fence that they have broken. We have had discussions and even loud angry arguments about who's to blame and what to do to prevent further occurences. We've discussed whether to get rid of Happy who is the ring leader in these little escapades. I've cried and had an emotional meltdown and am so emotionally charged up that my reactions are over the top.

So, Saturday and Sunday I sat an open house. It went well on Saturday, though the buyers already had a realtor. On Sunday a couple came by with their realtor and went in the back yard. The next-door neighbor dogs dug under the fence and came after them, chasing them back into the house. Terrific. Then these two dogs stood in the back yard, barking in an aggressive manner, acting very territorial. No, the neighbors did not come out, nor did they answer the door when I knocked.

So tell me, do you want to buy a house where the dogs next door bark, dig their way into your yard and come after you and your guests? I have to admit that after the week we've had, I found it rather amusing.


The Rock and the Grain of Sand

Long ago and far away, there lived a grain of sand, small and insignificant. When the sun hit her just right she was beautiful beyond belief in the brilliance of the light she reflected. One day the grain encountered a rock, sturdy, rugged and tough, the very things a young grain of sand dreams of.

Though she was very young and her family and friends had doubts, she had none and invested everything she had in the rock she had come to love. And though his family was dismayed by her insignificance and youth, he gave everything he had for that grain of sand.

The rock and the grain of sand struggled to make a life together, and as suspected by all their friends and family, it was very difficult, for the rock was rough and she was small and not very sturdy. In fact her very presence was sometimes a great irritant, and he would toss her into the waves to “toughen up” like himself.

His toughness soon felt like roughness, and she battered against it, trying to get the roughness out of him. Day after day as he tossed her into the sea, she came up against a creature who also found her an irritant, but instead of resenting her presence, merely coated her with a layer of love and protection and sent her on her way, back to her rough rock. As her rough rock would ride the waves of the sea, he encountered the same creature, but that creature was to him nothing but a hard battering shell, which over time began to remove bits of his hard exterior. He was being beaten, and she was being smothered, but each had no idea what was happening to the other, for he spoke of the creature as a tormentor, while she spoke of the creature as a gentle protector.

As her friends saw her being thrown daily into the rough seas, they begged her to leave the rock, fearing that she would be lost forever, but she had given all she had for the rock, and even though she detested the rough seas and being thrown about, she would not give up her investment and some days caught a glimmer of something else, the thing she had imagined beneath her rock’s rough exterior.

Years passed, and sometimes the tide picked them both up and carried them away, but always to his battering creature and she to her protector. Her rock never realized that it was the same wave carrying them both, but began to see the sea as a tormentor out to get him and he would curse the waves. She rode the same rough seas, but since they always carried her to her guardian and protector, she grew calmer over time, and did not fight the sea.

More time passed, days, weeks, months, years and ages. One day she looked at him and realized that he was a diamond, slowly being revealed from within his rocky shell. She loved him all the more for it, and realized she had made a wise investment. He, on the other hand, began to see what she had become—a pearl. Not just any pearl, but a pearl of such luminescence and beauty that she would take his breath away. Neither knew what they had become, so each felt unworthy of the other and completely awed by the brilliance and beauty of their investment.

And though she sometimes realized that some of her rough spots were gone, she never fully realized what the creature had done for her, but instead thanked the creature for the protection he had given her in the midst of the waves.

Her rock could not see what the creature had done for him, as he did not see what was being revealed, and was resentful of the sea and the battering he took against the creatures shell.

Years passed. An age and a day went by. On that day the sea was still, as happens once an age and a day. On that day, they went to the water’s edge and caught a glimpse of their reflections. At first he had eyes only for her and she for him, marveling at the beauty of the other, but soon each caught a glimpse of themselves. Who is that? each of them wondered, before recognizing the reflection as being their own. At that moment, the waves pulled back to reveal the creature responsible for their transformation.

“There’s my friend!” she exclaimed as he shouted, “That’s him! He’s the one who has been beating me up.” And the truth began to dawn in each of them that the creature had turned them into objects of great beauty and had made them worthy of the great investment of the other. And at that moment, each of them realized that some time ago, more than an age, but less than an eon, their friends and family had quit telling them that they had made a bad investment, and turned to thank the creature, but he was covered by a wave which came to take them to him, and there they live to this day.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Spending My Man's Money

Recently, Steve tried to get my goat by suggesting that we would not hire a woman for a particular position (one we don't even have open, so this was purely to mess with me). At first I fell for it, but shortly I turned to him and said, "You're right, I've been taking work from a man, so I'm going to quit and do what I should be doing--my nails, my hair and spending my man's money." So now I guess I'm going to plan to be a real womanly woman and quit taking a man's place in the workforce. I think women's work would suit me, don't you? I'll make appointments to get my nails done ($50/month minimum), hair ($150/quarterly) and generally spend my man's money.

It is the third directive that I think I can manage very well. I don't really like malls, grocery or department stores, but I'm quite certain that I could spend money buying books, music, DVDs, furnishings, home decor, plants, landscaping materials and outdoor furnishings. Oh, I could also spend money on travel!

Going along with this lifestyle, I think I may have to spend some time managing the servants, and going to fittings, because I wouldn't want my wardrobe to make my man look like he can't provide properly.

I imagine you figured out that I won this one without having to argue at all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


It has been a while since my last blog. Busy times, emotional times. Had a very busy work week prior to leaving for our daughter's wedding in California. The worst travel we've ever had. Don't plan to EVER fly Delta again. The weather was not their fault. The lying was. Would have managed the trip differently if they had simply told us the truth from the start, and it would have made our lives much easier. We could have driven in less time than it took us to fly to San Diego from Colorado Springs. Arrived so exhausted that I still haven't caught up on my sleep.

It was a lovely wedding. Another tale for another day.

Arrived home late Sunday night to find the dogs missing. Fortunately Steve drove around and found them, but the gate was wide open. We don't know how it happened.

Anyway, found them. Tuesday, someone opened the gate again, but this time we couldn't find them. We drove around for about 5 hours looking for them, each heavily trafficked street a reminder of the damage they could suffer, every phone call brought hope and then dashed them. Every caller had to wonder why I sounded so disappointed by their call. By 6 pm I was a basket case. I thought I heard Happy barking, so I ran to the front door with a big smile on my face, full of expectation, only to realize that the barking had been on TV in another room.

That same night my parents arrived from Salem, Oregon after a long and exhausting trip. The following morning Steve, my brother-in-law, Glenn, and my nephew, Justin unloaded the moving truck, leaving a houseful of furniture and belongings in about half the space needed, but with room enough to reach the chair that my Dad sleeps in, space to get into the kitchen and make coffee, and an empty couch for resting and sleeping.

After dropping off the rental truck, Mom and Justin went with me to the pound where I found both dogs. Happy was fine, but Barney was quite freaked out. Not really a surprise. He doesn't do well in a kennel, or around the smell of lots of other dogs. He is still acting a bit traumatized, and all his reactions seem just a bit more pronounced than normal. I am so happy to have them back. I didn't realize I hadn't taken a full breath, until I quit holding my breath after picking them up.

So, went to help unpack in the afternoon. I'm not a whole lot of help, but I am some. It will be quite some time before the apartment is straight and organized, but they do have a wonderful view of Pikes Peak from their patio.

So today, we went over to pick up some excess stuff that needed to be removed from the patio, and while the stuff was being unloaded at my house, I stayed with Dad where he told the following story:

A friend and professor at the seminary in Salem was also an expert fly fisherman and fly fishing instructor. He and Dad went fishing in the mountains. At one point in the middle of the river, dad realized he need to eat. As he opened his lunch, the boat became surrounded by ducks and geese, including a particularly nifty family of a mom, dad and several small ducklings. Dad fed the ducks as he fed himself, until there was no more, at which point he told the mother duck to go, and she did, taking her ducklings with her.

A while later, Dad got a hit on his line--a big hit. He looks out and the mother duck is going beserk, then the daddy duck goes nuts. His big hit is one of the ducklings. Definitely a catch and release. Duckling went free, to the relief of mom and dad, but several fish went into the frypan, and Dad went from being a fisherman to "The Duckerman".

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006

Today is the anniversary of two events. My mom was born on this day several decades ago, and five years ago today we all watched in horror as the second plane hit and we knew that this was no horrific blunder, but a deliberate attack on the United States. Then we watched, tears streaming down our faces as people leapt to their deaths, escaping who knows what horrors, then as the towers fell. We listened in disbelief to the reports of Flight 93 and of the attack on the Pentagon.

I believed that this was my generation's Pearl Harbor. I still believe that. The enemy isn't as clear, and operates without a defined military presence and is not under the overt and readily recognizable control of any one government, but is instead a stealth operation of factions of Islam. That most of the Muslim world seeks our destruction and that of Isreal should not really surprise us, but it does. We are a hopelessly naive culture, more and more taken up in the artificial worlds of fashion, celebrity worship, entertainment and sports. We seek merely to continue to have a good time and not to be troubled with "that stuff".

We dislike facing harsh realities. We want the world to have no complications, no difficult riddles, no choices more difficult than which lip gloss is more kissable. We want to continue our football pools, our parties, our mind-numbing entertainment, our vain pursuits. I include myself.

My son is in Iraq, fighting a war that is unrecognizable by any historical battle I read about. He has internet service, often makes phone calls home, orders entertainment from Ebay or, and has learned to tolerate being shot at. It's terribly hot, very uncomfortable and mind-numbingly boring. Thank God! And thank him for not telling me all the bad stuff. I worry about him enough as it is.

I love my country, but I can't say that I would be thrilled to give my son for her. I am terribly proud of him, but I want MY son to come home. I want all our sons and daughters to come home, but I especially want MINE.

This war has cost me nothing but increased gas prices and unpleasant news. Nothing, that is, except my son, who chose to join the Army after we were already at war.

I'm conflicted. I believe that we have to defend ourselves, even seek vengeance on those who brought such evil upon us, and that a sovereign nation must defend and even be on the offense after such an assault, but I don't really believe this war is winnable. It must be fought, but it is an unwinnable war. Oh, perhaps short-term we may beat back the militant arm of Islam, but if history teaches us anything it is that Islam will rise again and again and seek the destruction of the non-Muslim world, particularly Isreal. The fight began with a child born to Hagar and another born to Sarah. The conflict has been there ever since.

We cannot give in to this threat or the world will head into a great darkness the like of which has not been seen in hundreds of years. I don't mean to dismiss the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and the destruction of millions of Jews, cripples and other "undesirable" peoples, but I truly believe this would be worse for the world in general. However, when I think about prophecy I am left to wonder if this signifies the end times. If so, worse than war will be the peace that then will lead to a storm of sorrows the world has never seen.

September 11th. A good day to think. Also, the first day I saw snow on Pikes Peak. Just a lacy shawl so far, and this will melt away before winter hits, but it was lovely and a pleasure all the same.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Well, the time has come to replace the wallpaper in the dining room. Much as I love the pattern, the paperhangers ruined the paper when installing it, and I can no longer find the same pattern. Three hours in Home Depot (this trip) finding the paper and ordering it. For the first time I had an unpleasant sales clerk at Home Depot. That has never happened to me before. I was offended at first, then I decided that perhaps working Home Depot on a holiday weekend is not a lot of fun. The store is crowded, there are screaming kids, demanding customers, lines and who knows what kind of pressure is put on them by their co-workers or managers.

Well, when it was time to order the paper, I found out one of the pressures is that the computer systems wasn't working properly. I watched as the clerk's frustration rose as the system kept refusing to complete the transaction because it was asking for an installer, even though this store does not have wallpaper installers available. In the meantime there are people in the aisles wanting help, and the more experienced clerk disappeared.

Three hours and a crapload of money later, we left the Depot, drained, but with the paper ordered and the tools to remove the old paper.

Here's the wallpaper plan:

You can see the pictures at the beginning of this post. In the suggested installation, the paper with the diamond pattern is on the upper wall, the shaped border at the ceiling, the straitedge border midway down the wall and the plainer pattern on the bottom. That looked too busy, so I altered the plan. The busy paper on the bottom, the straitedge border midway, the plainer paper above, with the shaped border at the crown molding. I think it will work well.

Still, I'm a little sad to lose the paper that's there. Ah well, nice that the business is throwing off enough income that we can put back into the house what we took out of it in equity. Hopefully next year we can replenish the retirement funds we took out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life Routine

A friend of mine just laughs when we get together after only a couple of weeks apart at all the busyness and changes from just one week to the next. I don't know if most people's lives are stable, routine and predictable, but mine sure isn't.

Just in the past couple of weeks:

1. Painting. Bye-bye red. The entire entry, living room and hallway went from Opera House Red to a color called "Bagel". It is a beautiful warm yellow. To go from the red to the light color required a day of primer (thank you Sandra for helping!), then two days of painting (Thank you to Evelyn and Mary!).

2. Pre-menopause. Well as I have suspected for a long time, I am there, no matter what any doctor says. Older women take one look at me sweating, flushed and fanning myself and laugh, "oh girl, you're flashing!" My husband who is clueless about such things mentioned that I constantly run the air conditioning, or turn on the fan, turn it off, put the sweatshirt on, take it back off...our new landlord laughed and told him that I'm going through "the change".

3. Kristen. Our daughter came to visit for a few days. We haven't seen her for more than a year. It was a really good visit. Kristen is getting married in a few weeks, so we could have waited, I suppose, but you don't really get a chance to talk and enjoy each other during a wedding! Alex came home for the weekend, so we had a great time together.

4. The Business. We have a new office. I am having to plan the build out of the office space, as well as planning what we need to buy to furnish and equip the new space.

5. Parents. They've decided to move back to Co Spgs! This is pretty exciting, but it has its own challenges. When you live on social security and have no other resources, you have to keep the rent pretty low. I have checked out a bunch of unsuitable places, made a number of calls, and eliminated a number of places. Today, however, I was prepared to be dismayed by a place in a part of town that used to be known for run-down places. The area seems to have undergone a renovation and even some nice new building, while the rents stayed affordable. It was very nice and I think it will work.

6. Golf. I'm not supposed to golf. Drs. orders. (Well it was more of a suggestion than an order...) I was kicking myself for having signed up for our office scramble tourney, and spent entirely too much money buying suitable clothes for golfing (fortunately they will work for many other things as well). I was convinced I would humiliate myself, and it started out convincing every one that I was correct in my assumption and couldn't even get the ball off the tee. Lack of depth perception aside, I decided to keep at it and managed a few decent swings, even a 70 yd. straight down the fairway. I was thrilled to actually connect with the ball, a real challenge with no depth perception.

7. Lights, Camera, Action. I've been installing a new light fixture lighting up the entryway. I'm not strong enough to trim the screws down to size, so I had to go back out tonight to find the right size and length among the thousands hanging on the aisle.

8. Office Mate. I now share an office with Michelle, an energetic, funny, outgoing former special ed teacher. I never saw any evidence of my former office mate, and I guess now I know the reason why. She apparently quit without telling anyone.

9. Organization. I bought, put together and put two shelving units in the laundry room, even cleaning and organizing the laundry room between hot flashes.

10. Landscapers. Two different landscapers have come out to give us a bid on our yard. Each time I have to walk them through the yard and explain what I want done and my "vision" for the completed project.

11. Flooring. The guys came the day after putting on the first coat of paint to replace the dining room floor so that it would match the rest of the flooring. The two days it took to finish it were days when painting could not be continued (to keep the sawdust out of the fresh paint).

12. Billing and other office stuff. Ohmigosh. Where do I start? Contractors ask you to do a job, you do it, then they refuse to pay the bill because "we didn't think it would cost this much." When was the last time I made an appointment with the doctor, a lawyer, or even the hairdresser, got the bill and said, "You charge too much, so I'm not going to pay." Un-freaking-belieavable.

13. Wallpaper. Hunting out replacement wallpaper for the dining room. I've been through dozens of wallpaper books. The problem is that I love the paper I already have, but the paperhangers did a horrible job installing it, ruining it. I can't find the same paper. :-(

14. Music. Practice and singing on Sunday morning. Really great, but it is Thursday evening, and nearly 6 hours on Sunday. For extra special fun, this week as an illustrative part of the sermon, prior to the service an entire can of vanilla deodorizer was sprayed in the auditorium, sending me into the worst asthma attack I've had in ages. I can't find a single inhaler. It's been so long since I used one I may have thrown them away as expired. Anyway, a bad asthma attack makes it very difficult to sing as it irritates the lungs and bronchial tubes, and the coughing messes with your voice. But God is still in his heaven and with his help I was able to sing.

15. Firewood. See previous blog "Cousin Roy".

16. The Trim Guy. The reason for all the frantic activity (painting, floors) is that our trim guy is installing the crown molding, baseboard, door and window trim, handrails, and the new front door and storm door. It doesn't make sense to paint after the trim goes in, so it needed to be done before he got here. We've waited months for this guy to fit us in, because his portfolio is amazing. It seems to me that you're better off waiting for the busy guy, than taking the guy who has lots of time on his hand. The craftsman is probably busy, busy, busy.

Well that's a brief overview of the past couple of weeks. I left some stuff out, of course. When you consider the speed I work at, and the fact that it's ragweed season and I'm hot flashing right and left, even I'm impressed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Cousin Roy"

I have a friend I'll call Roy. We treat him like family, so let's just call him "Cousin Roy". Cousin Roy has always been a character. There are few people more generous than he is. Yet, though he's more than 20 years my senior, he always acted like a demented teenager, but is one of the most well-read people I know. Not of novels, but if there is a non-fiction book or article on health, engineering, Christianity, cars, airplanes, etc., especially a terribly technical manual, he's read it, understands it and remembers it. If there is a potato cannon needing to be built, or some other article of teenage boy havoc-wreaking machinery needing to be built, he has done so, can tell you exactly how, has the materials, and probably has a working model, if you promise never to reveal where you saw it.

He is also an incredible packrat.

If you don't know a true packrat, let me tell you it is no joke. A true packrat fills most every corner of their home with...well...stuff. Piles, mounds, stacks of papers, merchandise and junk of all descriptions. Boxes and boxes of electronic components, tools, automotive parts, yacht batteries (we live in Colorado), lumber, odd bits of everything people didn't want at the neighborhood garage sale, stacks of corrugated roofing material, rebar, fixtures of all descriptions removed from houses of friends, neighbors and people he doesn't even know. There will always be a use for the hoarded item one day. These things are so useful that life become impeded by their presence. A couch becomes not a place to sit a weary body and chat with a friend, but storage for boxes o'crap and piles o'junk papers. One need not sit at the dining table when it will hold an extra generator, a compressor, broken picture frames, rc airplane motors, submersible pumps and a case of WD-40. The stove becomes yet another storage place, making it unusable for the preparation of food. The kitchen sink may be unreachable for months on end when a new pump for the well is sitting in front of it.

A true packrat has stacks of items they bought and never used, whether at a garage sale or at the clearance rack at the hardware store. Women packrats may have dozens of unused, still wrapped aprons, bags of linens, blouses spanning many colors, styles and eras, all with the tags still on them. Men may do the same thing, but often they are obsessed with things like radios, power tools, TVs, bags of tube socks, pens, rulers, oil filters, and cameras.

Well, if you need a whazit for a schedingyding, the '43 model, not the '44 or '42, Roy probably has one, and if you give him a few minutes he can probably locate that whazit and the doohickey that goes with it, as well as the schlemlerdinckel that makes it work better, and will be able to tell you just how to remove the ringydingy nozzel to replace the whazit, the doohickey and to add the schlemlerdinckel as well.

Some time back, Cousin Roy told me he had made me executor of his estate. Given the sheer volume of stuff filling his house, garage, screen porch, storage sheds, trailers on his property as well as the stuff stacked against the house, I can remember being both flattered and horrified. Over the last 6 months, Roy has made considerable progress reducing the piles o'crap. I have been quite hopeful that he had finally conquered this compusion.

Alas. Today I was called to come pick up free firewood. It wasn't a good time, but I was told that it was now or never, that the stuff would be gone tomorrow, so I went. I picked up a truck load of firewood, and while I was doing that, I watched as Roy filled his truck with used and excess building materials, including a one-piece shower unit. He has no possible use for a shower unit. None. He told me he had been working loading and unloading for days and had a stack as high as his privacy fence. He has a six foot privacy fence. I am officially horrified. Horrified and depressed.

In the space of a couple of days he managed to undo 6 months of progress. It depresses and overwhelms me with the magnitude of the task should he die tomorrow. There is no flattery in being the executor of this estate.

Also depressing is that the place where we were gathering the free materials had bags of discarded possessions, presumably from a series of tenants of a rather rundown old house. Bags of children's toys were amongst the piles of firewood. We uncovered either two dead birds, or the decomposing spread out remains of one. I also uncovered a broken glass pipe. I don't know what drug turns a pipe black, but I imagine most any would as the substance is burned. Sad to think that there were drugs and children, poverty and misuse of funds involving children. The human despair and the depravity...oh, it just makes me so incredibly sad.

I want to run and clean out something, throw something away, but I realize that just this past week I tacked the laundry/utility room and brought it to some semblance of order, even throwing away some things in the process. Good. The panic attack is held at bay, and is even receeding. Breathe slowly. In. Out. In. Out. Ahhhhh. Must remember to breathe.

Friday, August 25, 2006

God is Not Enough

Years ago as I was struggling with thoughts of suicide and needing to find a reason to go on, I had a vision. It was my children, my neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. standing around my tombstone. The inscription read "GOD IS NOT ENOUGH". To this day this haunts me. It is the message my life would have given had I given in and taken my own life.

I have been with people whose loved ones took this out. It is perhaps the most hostile act I can imagine short of murder toward those who love you. You never know who is watching you as an example. You never know who is reading your story, watching your life to see if what you believe is true--if the God you claim is faithful and trustworthy.

In one act I could have forever told my children that God is not faithful, that he is unreliable and that his promises are not true. I would have said to my neighbors that I served a lie and that the Bible did not have the answers and was not the source of truth, help, encouragement, and life.

I want my life to say "Look what God can do with little!" I want my life to point the way to the Jesus who paid my penalty, to the God who gave himself for me. I want my life to glorify the Creator of the Universe who has made me his child and calls me his own. I want my tombstone to be able to say that I followed God in gratitude for his mercy by which he saved me. It should read, "GOD IS MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR EVERY HURT, EVERY NEED, EVERY SINNER".

Thursday, August 17, 2006

High Capacity Individuals

At the WCA Summit, speakers kept talking about seeking out high-capacity individuals to fill positions of ministry in the church. The phrase sticks in my craw, especially used in this context. I've been chewing it over for over a week, and while I'm not sure I have it all figured out, I do know what bothers me about it.

  1. I am not a high-capacity individual. Some are 78's, some are 45's, some are 33-1/3, and some are even 16's. (If you don't understand this, you are probably under 30 years old.) I like to imagine that I am a 33-1/3, pushing it to 45 every now and then, but it's more likely that I'm a 16, truth be told. 78's accomplish a lot, they really do, but I wonder if they are even capable of spending an afternoon listening to a hurting person or if their schedule and accomplishments rule them.
  2. I don't see where God selects "high-capacity individuals". He is not in the business of seeking out people who are most qualified to help him. He empowers willing hearts and hands to do the work he provides for them to do. Moses was in exile, living nomadically in the desert when he went to investigate the burning bush where God called him. Moses was sure no one would listen to him so God gave him signs, and when that wasn't enough for Moses, he gave him Aaron to be his mouthpiece. God chose a teenage girl of no particular stature to bear his Son, and a carpenter to raise him. The people of Isreal picked Saul to be their king--handsome, tall and possessing the characteristics they wanted. God picked a shepherd boy, David. It was a prostitute that God used to save the spies, and who made it into the lineage of Christ. Who were Christ's disciples who he empowered to change the world? Fishermen.

As far as I can tell, God wants willing hearts, not high capacity. What does Scripture say to you? I mean I understand what they are saying. You don't select a person who physically can't work more than 5 hours a day to have a high level position in a church of more than 3,000 members, a staff of 30, and hundreds of volunteers. The smart thing to do is to hire the guy who accomplishes much, works long hours and has bundles of energy. The guy who doesn't know what it is like to work a 40 hour week. Sometimes though, God surprises us by building a ministry through a quadraplegic (Joni Erickson Tada). Maybe, just maybe, he is not through with a low-capacity individual like me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sermon from a Rock Star

The biggest surprise of the WCA Leadership Summit so far has been a video interview with U2's Bono. I was prepared to be underwhelmed based on nothing but other's derision of his do-gooder attitude and misrepresentation of his statements and my general disregard of the integrity, intelligence and relevance of celebrities. I was persuaded in spite of myself.

This is a man whose Christianity is real, and who shares my disdain, frustration and disappointment in the church in general who act as if sin is a surprise to God, and who measure certain sins and appearances as vitally important and either don't understand or don't practice grace and mercy. These are the part of the body of Christ who seem prone to anger at sinners, who look at the world and expect Ward and June Cleaver. These are the same people who have made themselves irrelevant in this world. They are the salt that has lost its savor. They are who I am terrified of becoming and who I am ashamed to have been.

Bono sees a church that has refused to be part of the problem of worldwide poverty, pandemics such as AIDS, injustice, segregation, racism, and who look at the sin of corporate greed as somehow less important--less sinful than sexual immorality.

Measure me. See if I live what I believe. At the moment I do not. Oh, I support Compassion, but I haven't visited a prisoner in ages. I haven't visited the hospitalized, the elderly, feed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, clothed the poor, comforted the fatherless and widows. At least not much, and not as a regular part of my life. Hold me accountable. I must seek out opportunities to visit the imprisoned and to care for the homeless, the poor, the sick.

I am challenged once again to live my faith. Not merely to show grace and mercy to the fallen, but to be the hands and arms and feet of God.

We have been so blessed in this country, how are we going to use those blessings to ease the suffering of the world? How am I going to use my resources to ease the suffering of the world? Is this the primary source of my depression? Is it that I have made no impact in my world? I feel in me the longing for greatness--not as some would define it, but for relevance, for impact. My small life is a waste of the goodness and mercy of God. I have received too much from my Creator to keep it to myself.

Once I heard Rush Limbaugh talk about the tendency for Americans to rush for Prozac to cure their depression without taking the time to work out what is really bothering them and making changes in their lives. Now I confess that I don't necessarily want to pattern my life after El Rushbo, but I have thought a lot about that statement, particularly in light of my recent gloom. I am taking serious stock of what I want to do with the rest of my life and how I want to accomplish it.

Hopefully, if I have done this right, you will now see a banner on this page for This organization is working to really make a difference in global poverty. Joining together we can speak out together for the cause of justice as I believe Scripture talks about--cancelling the debt of the poor, and helping the impoverished, the widows and orphans. Let us no longer simply make lip service and call out "Brother, be warmed and filled," then go on our way feeling as if we have done our part. The only difference between the sheep and the goats is what they did and didn't do. Look up the organization. If you still want to know more about why I am supporting this organization after checking them out, ask me. No pressure on you at all. I just want to keep it real and let you know what I'm thinking about.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Leadership Summit

First: apparently there is no rift between my brother and I. He called a couple of days ago and there was no hint of anger or discord at all. Great big whew!

Today began the WCA Leadership Summit. 20 people from my church are joining tens of thousands of leaders from all over the world through a live simulcast in learning about all aspects of leadership and all aspects of leadership within the church. Going feels fraudulent to me, as I tend to think of a leader as the head of a department or ministry or the pastor, but certainly not me. There is that in me that aspires to leadership, but I find it a bit frightening to be considered a leader in the church. It is a grave responsibility and not to be taken lightly. That being said, there are things I want to teach/share that God has shown me, things that I see other women needing to know.

I have so many flaws that seem to me to eliminate me from a leadership role. The depression that I have admitted to, the health issues that cause such fatigue, an inherent laziness, my weight, my temper, and so many other things. I think of a leader as strong, confident, together. But when I think about leaders in the Bible, Moses, David, Paul, are all flawed individuals. Moses seemed to be a man lacking in confidence, yet God used him to lead the nation. David trusted God, yet he committed grave sin. Despite that he was called a man after God's own heart. Paul not only persecuted Christians before he was called by the Lord, he had such a problem with a fellow worker that the team split, yet God used him mightily and restored the relationship later on.

We expect perfection from leaders, and often show no mercy when they fall, but that is NOT what God does. God uses flawed people. However, sometimes sin does eliminate us from a futher blessing, as when Moses died without reaching the Promised Land. He got to look at it, but he didn't cross the river.

Anyway, I'm at the Summit and the first speaker actually says "Keep on leading". It could not have been more clear. I was considering quitting teaching, unsure whether I was really a leader, but I believe I need to pick up the book, study and prepare and plan for a larger group. I am also, once again seriously thinking about two things: prison ministry and homeless outreach. These two things have stuck with me for a long time, coming up time and time again. I'm not sure exactly what shape that should take, and since we don't have a ministry in place, I need to be prepared to put one in place if I am to mention this.

Still, Jesus talked about this in his sheep and the goats speech. Matt. 25:32-46, one of the most convicting passages in the Bible:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

What makes the difference between the sheep and the goats? Everytime I read this or hear it read from the pulpit I hear Keith Green: "The only difference between the sheep and the goats is what they did and didn't do."

Well, I want to be a sheep. I want to be told "well, done". I want to hear "you've done it unto me."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Explain Men to Me, Please and The Fog is Lifting

It's Steve's birthday today. As usual, I managed to completely underwhelm him, and since he doesn't want me spending any money, there were no gifts for him at all. It sucks. I feel really bad. He is so good about gifts usually, but he almost never likes what I get for him. I looked for stuff, but took Alex with me, who shot down every idea I had.

Apparently the only appropriate gift for men (or at least for Steve, Craig or Alex) is expensive electronics. we're talking a $400 game system, several hundred dollars for a new TV, expensive video games, stereos, whatever. What's the deal? A $25 gift card for Borders works for me. Can someone explain this to me?

What would you like for your birthday?
World Peace.
How about something that is possible?
Okay. A Harley.
The new XBox 360 with games.
Right. Anything that could be purchased without filing for bankruptcy?
World Peace.
Oh good. A card it is then. I love you.


Okay, maybe I was a bit quick to announce my meltdown. Well, maybe I couldn't get better until I faced it, thought about what was happening and really identified what I needed to do, admitted to people the struggle. Basically brought my depression into the light of day and quit trying to hide it.
Confession is good for the soul.
Anyway, I thought a lot about it, prayed about it, determined a course of action, embarrassed myself by putting it out there for anyone to read, and today the depression is lifting. Not that things are great. The credit account we use to help float the business, giving us another 30-45 days has been cut to a third of what it has been, really forcing us to alter the way we do business. Money is a struggle, but I have to remember, again and again and again, that whatever I have is enough by definition. And while I think that things should be different because that is what I see around me, what I must do is to discipline my mind to gratitude and appreciation. I am not supposed to look around me and compare myself to what I see, but look at scripture and compare my life to truth. If I do that, I am taking myself outside of some cultural norm and placing myself inside universal truth. I'm not sure that states clearly what I mean so let me say it another way. I live in America with American expectations regarding money, possessions and more. What I need is to understand finances and possessions in a more universal way, to escape my cultural understanding and find what Scripture says without that filter blinding me to truth.
What I did wrong is I signed up for a conference through my church, on the assumption that I would have made the money by now.
I haven't broken even yet. Real Estate is a great business, but it is very expensive to start out. $800 for this, $400 for that, monthly expenses, annual expenses, marketing, technology fees, internet fees...and that's before you list a property. It costs a minimum of $500 to market a single property. Now I have obligated myself to $200 that I simply don't have. So if you know someone who wants to buy a sewing machine or three, I have several for sale. I have a treadle machine without the base, with the lovely filigree. Another black Singer with the beautiful filigree painting, electric. A Pfaff machine. It's really lovely, but lost a few small pieces in the move. It's a great machine. I actually have 4 or 5 machines. I keep winding up with machines over the years. I really love sewing machines, but for someone who doesn't really sew, owning this many machines is crazy.
I'm going to have to pass on all such invitations/opportunities unless the money is in hand. I just can't do this. I can't handle having this hanging over my head, but I have been unable to find someone to take my spot.
The really great news is that my brother called me out of the blue without a hint of anger or resentment. I'm so happy. I hung up the phone with tears of happiness. For whateer reason, I needed to get past this depression without knowing whether things were okay between us or not. But I'm so happy he called. On my list of favorite people, he is right up near the top, and to have him mad at me is awful.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Why art thou depressed? Let me count the reasons.

1. Financial. The up and down nature of our construction business. Even when we have a lot of work, it is difficult to get paid for the work we have done. This is a constant struggle and it's driving me nuts. After a while I start thinking, why, Lord? Why can't we just have one month where people pay what they owe on time and we can meet our obligations on time? Why am I constantly going around like the beggar child, unable to pay my own way for a conference I need to go to, pay my real estate bills on time, or some of the simple things I ask? Am I asking too much? A birthday comes and catches me short, though a few days later the money comes in and we're fine. After church on Sunday a whole group of people go out to eat, a great social/fellowship occasion which I frequently cannot do. I cannot keep my hair appointment due to lack of funds. Lord, what am I to learn here? Am I asking too much? Do I need to simply say no to everything that costs money since I cannot plan ahead? Do I need to look at my spending again and reevaluate every dime to see where I am wasting money I could be saving? Did I need this as a reminder of how stressful it is to live under constant money pressure to reignite my compassion for those struggling within our church? Do I need this myself to learn (again) to completely throw myself upon the mercy and provision of God. Jehovah Jireh. None of us has anything except as it comes from the hand of God. Steve Thurman, founding pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Colorado Springs, told me that many years ago. I've never forgotten it, though at times I struggle with the timing of is provision. I need to repent. In my arrogance, I have decided once again that He is not dealing well with me, and that he should manage our provision differently. I have forsaken trust.

2. Work. No, I mean my other work. Real Estate. While I often talk about how much I love real estate, and I do, this year has been really tough. Spring and Summer, when the business is supposed to be at its vibrant best, have been slower than slow. I have taken a hard look at myself and I dislike the person I see. I want to be more outgoing. I like people, really I do, but I don't seem to vibrate that as some people do. People aren't naturally drawn to me. So I have to figure out something different. A different approach. Again, I have forsaken what I believe. I believe that God made me exactly the way he wanted me for his own purposes and designs, but I keep telling the potter that he got it all wrong. I want to be the hard-charging, outgoing, type-A, but I wasn't made that way.

3. Family. Although I am determined to ignore what is happening with my parents, I have not managed to do so thus far. I need to learn how to seperate myself emotionally from the situation. Also, I have been so hurt and angry that my brother is mad at me and I need to forgive the hurt feelings, do whatever I can to mend the relationship and to move on. You can't make someone forgive you, and you often don't understand how what you said or did affects the other person. I'll concede that he may be silent right now for other reasons having nothing to do with any held grudge. The entire thing may be in my fertile imagination which says that no response means no acceptance of my apology and thus no forgiveness. And even if I am reading the situation correctly, I must learn to let him deal with his own stuff and learn not to take it personally. Do what I can to mend the situation "as much as it depends on you" as the verse says. I need to throw the entire family thing into the hands of God and ask him to bear the stress and anxiety. "Be anxious for nothing..."

I think that's enough for one day. I'll be mulling this over today as I seek to come to terms with God and to avail myself of the "mind of Christ". I do not believe that Christ wallowed in depression, and if I am to put on the mind of Christ, I need to think as he thinks. Oh fill me again, and remove those things in me that keep me from trust, from faith, from utter dependence, and restore to me a grateful dependence on you, Lord. Help me to rely utterly on your provision in all my ways. Direct my paths O Lord and let me not be ashamed of how you are dealing with me. Teach me to number my days, to take stock of what I should and should not be doing. Teach me dependence on you and let me walk in the sweetness of your presence with joy. Restore to me that joy, Lord. Forgive me for my anger and my despair. Forgive me for wanting to design myself in my own way, and for wishing to be other than as you have made me. You are the Creator. You are the all-knowing, all-loving, all sufficient one. Thank you that in your mercy you don't squash me when I, in my arrogance, presume to know better than you. I need the mind of Christ. I need so desperately to think the way you think and to love the way you love, to put others before myself and to walk humbly in obedience. I need you, o Lord, with each breath I need you. I am a vacuum without you, utterly empty and so needy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Today I have come face to face with a fact I do not want to admit. I am depressed. Not kind of, not a little bit, not mildly, but I have now hit a real bonafide depression. Evidence: not canceling appointments as soon as I knew there was a conflict, and letting the appointment come and go without canceling. Evidence: exhaustion. Evidence: despite visits from some of my closest friends over the past three weeks, there is no continued lift in spirits once they have gone. Evidence: I was invited to go on a trip and I have turned it down. Even without the evidence, I know the way I feel.

So far this is not the bone-crushing depression I have experienced in the past, but from here I know the slope can be dangerously slick. When I get like this I don't want to be around people, even though it is probably best for me to be. It is difficult to do things I should unless they are strictly necessary or urgent.

I hate to do it, but if this doesn't lift in the next couple of weeks I will have to go back on anti-depressants. What causes the chemical imbalance that causes this I don't know, and as far as I understand no one else really does either. I guess we don't even know if some stressful event or wrong thinking causes the depression which changes the chemical balance in your brain or if it is the chemical imbalance that makes you more susceptible to stress. It doesn't really matter, the medications tend to work, at least for the most part.

There is still a part of me that feels great shame at this weakness. I would rather hibernate and wallow than let people know what is going on.

As to cause, well, the recent discord in the family has really upset me, my allergies are really off the charts, and I've been hurting a lot.

Frankly, I'm angry about the family discord, particularly the stuff aimed at me. Angry because I don't know what to do, Angry because I've been doing the best I knew how all along, but don't get credit for that, and really hurt that my apology has not been accepted. I have decided that I am no longer paying any attention to the regular news updates on the family situation. I simply cannot handle it. It seems that the expectation is that I will have no reaction to the health reports, near death episodes, stressing out, etc., which seems ridiculous to me. I guess for my own sanity I am going to ignore the situation. If anyone wants help, they can ask for it. I'm not good at merely listening to problems and commiserating without any action steps. I think that is what is expected. Listen, nod and murmur understanding syllables, but take no action, formulate no plans, do nothing. Not my strong suit. I'm a problem-solver. Analyze the situation, look for options and determine the best course of action.

Possible course of action to alieviate depression symptoms: walk, eat decent food regularly, no junk food, good music, garden, meditate on God's goodness, pray for God's healing and intervention, and look at the things going on in my life that I need to change or accept...basically deal with my stuff.

In the meantime, covering up is not an option, though it is what I would prefer. I dislike being vulnerable and allowing people the opportunity to look down on me for this weakness. Perhaps I should just allow myself to cry.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

What’s growing in my garden…

Allium (at least that’s what I think I’ve got growing in my garden) The purple one, not the little yellow dill.

Annual Fleabane – Not technically in my garden, this has volunteered in a future bed.

Blue flax – I have two kinds of flax growing and have harvested seed from one kind. The other one doesn’t have seed heads yet.

Chrysanthemum – mine are yellow, but haven’t bloomed well the past couple of years since they’ve been choked by curly dock, which I have been pulling out this year.

Columbine – Although mine doesn’t like where I have transplanted it this year and has not flowered.

Dianthus – I have different colors – this one and a couple of shades of red.

Dill (the tiny yellow flower, not the big light purple one)



Marigold – French marigold is growing in different sizes and shades.

Pansy – this flowered even in the depths of winter. Who would have guessed?



Salvia – this has gotten woody and thin. I’m not sure why. It used to be a beautiful plant.

Snapdragon - Mine aren’t doing well this year, perhaps due to crowding and a late start.

Spearmint/Peppermint – This is awesome, and makes wonderful tea.

Tarragon – particularly wonderful in chicken dishes, this herb has many wonderful uses.

Thyme – mine has a wonderful lemony scent and flavor that is a wonderful tea when steeped in boiling water and the result poured over ice.

Verbena – a favorite of mine, I hope this comes back next year.

Yarrow - the version I have is pink, though it seems to get a little paler each year.

Yellow Toadflax “wild snapdragon” – Mom warned me this would take over, and it is, but I’m enjoying it.

Zinnia – red, pink and orange flowers in both flower beds. It would be great if it reseeds itself.

Sunflowers – I shouldn't even include these, because I've pulled most of them out and will probably pull out the rest if they keep refuse to grow upright and fall all over my flowers. These volunteered from seed fallen out of my bird feeders.

Well, this is a lot, but not all of what is growing at my house. How about yours?

Herbal Remedy

In the past I've mentioned my garden, which at present time consists of the planter beds that run the length of the house, a 4 ft. quarter circle at the edge of the driveway, and a few potted plants.

The rest of the yard is a horror of dying weeds, half finished sprinkler system with open trenches and curling black pipe poking out of the ground, and in a few spots some of the grass seed I've spread twice this year is taking in the wimpiest way.

What has done remarkably well this year are my herbs. I have harvested them over and over, and most of the time you will find several bunches of herbs drying in my kitchen. what I haven't found is the appropriate way to hang them. I need to hang a rack or something. In fact, I think I'll head out when I'm done blogging. The pictures I cannot find are of my mint, which is in flower at the moment, dill weed, sprouted from handfuls of twenty-five year old dill seed thrown into the garden on a whim, and the lemon thyme. Lemon thyme is an incredible herb, with a lovely aroma, and it actually makes a great herbal tea (correctly known as a tisane). I also am growing yarrow, used in herbal remedies and remarkable for being easy to grow, split and transplant. Tarragon is another favorite, which grows like a weed, and I'm considering using it as a border plant.

Rosemary smells wonderful, but I need to grow more of it. I dearly love freshly made rolls made with rosemary. In fact, there isn't an herb in my garden including previously unmentioned basil, oregano and cilantro, that doesn't smell wonderful. Rubbing a leaf or a flower between my fingers releases a wonderful aroma that soothes the senses and gives a lift to my mood.

I plan to grow lemon thyme between the stepping stones in the back yard, to release it's scent with each step. Adding a raised bed for the lavender, I would like to try various varieties until I find what works best in this climate, and begin to harvest it for the aroma, to scent drawers and closets. I love to walk through a yard with pleasant aromas coming at you as a surprise as you examine the variety of plants, or listen to the birds flitting from plant to feeder.

Well, I'm heading out but before I go I will take a quick smell of the various herbs in my garden.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Desperation & Intervention

Sitting in church this morning the speaker asked us to think of the things in our lives which are our places of desperation. As he suggested many areas where people find those places, I found many of them ringing true with me. In the area of work, there are the joint struggles of running a construction firm and beginning real estate in a down market. In the area of family, there is the struggle of my dad's health problems, wanting to help but unable to do so, the rift that has developed between some family members over that issue. I have a son in Iraq, a daughter in California, marrying someone I don't know who does not share our faith, and another son heading back to college. In the area of finances, while we make money (at least on paper) we are often cash poor. In the area of health, well, I don't want to go into that again. There are often the struggles just to deal with loneliness. Well, if you've read my blog you know what I'm talking about.

The thing is, that we are not meant to live without struggles, and perhaps we aren't meant to understand what is going on. It isn't that we are supposed to solve the problems, but that we are to walk through the problems with Christ. We are to learn who God is and how he acts for us in the midst of adversity, and how he wants to walk with us, so that we begin to walk in faith and trust.

Indeed, how else should we walk? If the Old Testament is to be taken as history (and I believe that it is), then we should remember that when things were at their bleakest God stepped in. When three of the children of Isreal, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzer, they were bound and thrown into a furnace so hot that the soldiers who had thrown them in died.

When the King took a look, he saw not three rotisseried Isrealites, but four men, unbound, walking in the furnace. The fourth man, according to the king was the Son of God. God stepped in when things appeared to be at their worst. These guys refused to bow to a false idol. They followed their God at all cost. And God was with them to the point of keeping them from singed hair, clothing or even the smell of smoke. I guess the point for me is once again to remember that God is in the business of caring for and taking care of those who are his own. I have no reason for panic. If there were a time for panic, being bound and ordered to be thrown into a furnace heated up to seven times what it had been before would be the time. When the soldiers were killed by the heat and flames, I would likely have turned into a blubbering fool. The panic I feel when things go wrong is unworthy of my experience of God's caring intervention in the circumstances of my life. My past experience is of a God who cares and never leaves me alone in the midst of trials. I may not understand the trial, the sickness, the financial difficulty, the family trouble, the turmoil in the world, injustice, whatever, but God has never failed me. Not ever.

A song I have sung says "Sometimes he calms the storm and other times he calms his child." I have found this to be true. Thinking on the faithfulness of a God who does not change, may not make me understand the trial, but it does give me hope and quiet confidence that this too shall pass.

So in the midst of a persistent depression, (a mild one, don't worry) I trust that this too shall be a season in which God displays his faithfulness, his love and his abundant mercy. Why do I doubt that the God who kept Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego safe in the inferno will care for me? God intervenes on my behalf during times of desperation.