Mentally Impaired

men·tal·ly /ˈmɛntli/ –adverb
in or with the mind or intellect; intellectually.
with regard to the mind.

im·paired /ɪmˈpɛərd/ –adjective
weakened, diminished, or damaged:
functioning poorly or inadequately
deficient or incompetent

What is it to be mentally impaired? Is it just the physiological aspect of how our brains work, or don't work?
Mental impairment after trauma, that's not really a physical attribute is it? Wouldn't that be considered emotional?
I just don't know.
This idea of how our brain works, how our bodies respond to stress is so mysterious to me. The way we often get sick just as we have the opportunity the rest and have downtime, or the way grief has a way of shattering our thought process and hindering our ability to communicate effectively anymore.
There are days that I feel so mentally impaired I don't know how I make it through the day. These are days when my thoughts feel so scattered and disconnected, which in turn cause my relationships to feel that way to. Sometimes, I want to say things to people so much, but find my thoughts paralyzed and impaired in a way that doesn't allow me to share what it is that I so deeply want to share.
Regardless of the fact that crap has happened in my life, it's just crap. But there are days that I feel so diminished, so less because of some of that crap.
I'm sure it's just the sickness talking, because I have my 4th head cold in as many months.
But I was reading a blog today and it got me thinking about this impairment we have, and how sometimes our impairment is more visible then others.
Like brokenness, our damage and impairment can be easily hidden between smooth lines, jokes, and good works. We can dress up our impairment, comb its hair, put on a tie....but it is still impairment isn't it?
How much can a person process, bury, forgive before it's to much? Is there ever a point that is enough? Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7, but by keeping count does that mean that you aren't really forgiving? How many times then can I continue to feel this anger, hot and burning towards him without figuring out how to move past it?
This man that is my mental impairment is haunting my dreams and conversations. So many times I've forgiven him and this anger still boils. Reconciliation isn't really an option.....because he is no longer living.
But I just get so mad that I can't see strait. I get mad so I won't see the anguish that is in pushing his gift to the back of my closet, that is recoiling at stories of his goodness and strength.
He was not good, he was only good at lying. He was not strong.
A wise man told me a story about a similar situation in his life. He said that he had to learn hard truths about someone that he believed to have been so good, so true. This wise man said that he also had to learn that this person in his situation was fallible, human, imperfect.
Part of my problem is I put people on pedestals, I want them to be so perfect, to remain spotless in their integrity. I'm better then I was, but not as proficient at it as I would like.
It's especially hard for me in regards to people from my past, from when I was a kid, teenager and wobbly adult.
I don't know how to do this, and I want to do it right....so it will be finished. So I can hear this man's name without feeling my heart ripped in two for the hundredth time. So I can remember what was good about him without it being tainted by that which was horrible about him.
My mental impairment is most likely curable. If I don't pick at it, if I don't nurture the bitterness that grows seemingly overnight in regards to this man. But I don't know how.


Verbalization is always helpful

"The way that time-consuming brokeness of the world problems seem to come in downpours."

I read that on this blog:


I know their situation is much more dire then mine, like a million times more, but this sentance seemed to verbalize the overwhelming grief I've felt in the last 48 hours in regards to the needs of the needy. (School of Redundancy School anyone?)
Looking at the big picture is bad somedays. Thanks to deano for that clarification this morning. But I think that sometimes the big picture can be necessary, it spurs us on to action and prompts us to make decisions we may be to scared to otherwise make.

This struggle to give birth

I feel slightly less crazy today then yesterday, but only because I got some good rest. How odd is it that something as simple as rest can refresh your view on the world? It's amazing that our bodies were built in such a way that rest is required to keep moving.
I released all that was in me to deano yesterday, over a very impassioned message. It felt good that his response wasn't flip, wasn't writing my thoughts and ideas off as frivilous or impossible. He encouraged me and gave me some tangible ways to move forward with the whisper of a dream that is in my heart.
I can see the end point clearly, almost so clearly that I think I can reach out and touch it. But I'm still at point A. I don't know how to traverse the path to the end. This internal dialogue that I've been having with myself, these ideas and motivations, thoughts and dreams have gone unspoken for so long, that I'm concerned speaking of them will cause them to dissapate somehow.
I want to have these conversations with people, but don't know how to begin them. How to tell them what is going on in my heart. I'm afraid of the discouragement I will encounter and that the discouragement will cause me to turn back from what has been haunting my thoughts for years.
It's like I'm birthing a new life and this is the gestation period. What does it mean for the plans I've begun making not even a month ago? At what point should plans cease and begin to move in a new direction? How do I know which direction to move it? What will I do if I get to the destination and it's not what I see now?
All of these questions, all of these doubts are my own. It would almost be better if I could doubt someone else, doubt their fidelity and honor. But it is mine that I doubt. My ability to speak clearly to the whisp of a dream that is starting to spark, my ability to put my foot down and really follow where I feel like God is leading me, my ability to say that and not be afraid that people think I'm a crazy religious fanatic.
This gestation period of refinement is burning and stretching me in ways that I'm not entirely comfortable with. But growth is not exactly supposed to be comfortable all the time right?
Is this just me being tired? Me being cranky and restless? Is this me feeling to close and dependant on someone and wanting to flee to save my heart?
I know the answers will be provided, I know the path will be made clear, if only a few feet at a time.
Perhaps this is why I'm not good at long term plans, because I get frustrated when I can't predict. When I try to predict and it doesn't pan out I feel like a failure....even though I've learned so much more in the process then I could have ever hoped to have learned had the path been straight and narrow.
So thanks deano....you crazy pancake maker you. It felt nice and encouraging to be heard without judgement.


You are the God who sees me

I've been reading these two new blogs. I found them on a prayer request post on a forum I visit. I'm hooked. They are medical professionals living in Uganda and serving as missionaries. It's so amazing to read through the archives, one just started, the other started in 2006, and read about their struggles, their answered prayers, their hope and triumph. Being the morbid person I can be I also find it so encouraging to read about their defeats, their recent involvement (and isolation) in an Ebola outbreak that has recently raveged the area they serve in.
It begins to put into perspective the life that I lead. I read a letter yesterday that made me physically ill. This issue that I'm so desperately wanting to be closed and over with is not, and I'm still not sure when it will be. I've left the final decision up to someone else that is involved, for various reasons, not the least of which is that I love her and know she wants to do something in response to this letter we received and the accusations that accompanied it. But the thought of trudging through this process again, isn't that bad. I mean, it's crap, but everyone has crap right?

But reading these testimonies of endless days, being the only 911 available to people, the satisfaction of falling into bed knowing that you have wrung every last possible drop of productivity and helpfullness out of the day, it just stirs a desire that is so deep inside of me that I can scarce describe what it is.
There is so much need in the world, so much hurt, so much disease, poverty, hopelessness. All I want to do is leave everything and help. Everything in me cries out to do whatever it is I can to help. Some days it seems like I don't do enough, other days it seems like I'm helping as best I can.
I've talked before to some of you....or maybe on here I can't remember....about how need can be so big and overwhelming, how we can't look at it all at one time because then we would be so overwhelmed that we would do nothing. The quote from Mother Teresa that reverberates through my head is one of a question she was asked. The person asked her, how did you manage to carry so many thousands of people off the street. She replied, well I picked up one, carried him inside and set him down. Then I picked up another.
Today is one of the days, that I feel so torn between wanting to run to Uganda and do anything my non-medical self can do to help, when I want to sell everything I own just for the chance to help a little more. Today is one of the days that I'm looking at the big picture and this groaning in my heart, this cry that keeps coming back to do more, be more, help more is getting louder and I feel such an urgent need to verbalize what it is that will come from this heart cry.
Is this truly where my fear of commitment comes from? This idea that if I were committed to a person, a family, a home that I would be unable to run to places all the time where there is need. Is this just me fleeing from the letter yesterday and all the memories it brings back to the forefront of my mind?
I just don't know.
All I know is I am so encouraged that these groanings aren't some crazy mental break when I read the stories on these blogs. Our church has been talking about going to Ghana in '08 to visit missionaries that we support. When I was talking about it with my friends later that week one of them said he'd never go to a country where there were cholera outbreaks. But you know, if there was a way for me to have walked out of their house and onto a plane headed for Africa that day I would have.
It's all so exciting and terrifying at the same time. I feel like I'm hurrying through a process that God has set out for me and I do not want to do that. Because I know, there are things I need to "fix" (for lack of a better phrase) before I can move through this stage.....now all I need is the courage to fix those things.

I got the OT on audio bible for Christmas. I started Genesis this morning and am so excited. I was at the part (since it's audio I don't know the verse, and I don't have an OT handy to look it up) when Hagar had fled Abraham and Sarah's house after she had conceived Ishmael. An angel appeared to her by the well and told her to return to their house, and that God had not forsaken her. She replied by saying that she would because He was the God who sees her.
I have spent so much time feeling unseen, invisible and worthless. But God always saw me. He always saw me no matter what I was doing, where I was, or how anyone treated me. He sees me now. He sees this groaning in my heart and he's answering me.
No matter how far you feel from God, from family, friends, or even any peace, God sees you. He has not forsaken you and he pants after you and desires you more then we can possibly imagine.

Quote from a blog I like

"Today the waves pounded hard on my mind and the tsunami in my soul ravaged. "

This is the link:

I read this and my mind stopped, thinking about how aptly that described how I feel some days.


Merry Christmas

Christmas afternoon and not a person was stirring not even Mickey Mouse that Matthew got this morning.
I'm exhausted.
Yesterday I got up and went downtown to CGM. It was lovely. I overheard a man asking Charles where he's been staying at. Charles replied that he's been able to stay at the shelter lately. This man said that Charles was lucky, because he's been sleeping outside.
It's been in the 20s and 30s out at night.
Can you imagine? As you snuggle down in your covers, curl up a little tighter behind your lover, can you imagine sleeping outside?
Christmas Eve Eve this man said the police were rousing him from all of his "beds" and telling him to move along. So he ended up just walking around all night, literally walking around because there was no place for him to sleep.
I looked at his eyes, and he was just weary. That weary that we think we know, when we can't go another step, well he felt that way, and had to keep walking.
Another guy that I see regularly down there said that someone stole his coat while he was sleeping, stole it right off of him! I mean, there are days that I forget my coat, or don't want to wear it, but I'm outside maybe, MAYBE, 20 minutes....this man lives out there.
Jesse, who I see almost all the time, who has a slow, sweet smile every time he sees me was there. The baptists were there this Monday so I was running back and forth to the kitchen for them, so I almost missed him. I went over and gave Jesse a big hug, wished him a merry christmas and he smiled, slowly and sweetly back, and said merry christmas too. I asked him how he was doing, and he smiled again and said, "Oh, I'm alright, how are you?"
I mean it's almost so simple this joy they have in a meal, fellowship with other people, warmth. All these things that time and time again I take for granted, all these things that make me want to be cranky and snap at people around me when I don't get my way.
I saw Terry too. He gave me a big hug and an odd kiss on the shoulder, but I know he means well. Whenever I oversleep, or am out of town he misses me and that makes me feel special. I mean, how odd is it that I go to serve and leave feeling more served by them? God is so good.
I talked to a woman with the baptists (she was also baptist, and no I don't really know while the label is important) and she told me this great story about how she and her husband are really being refined and re-molded by God. They have sold their huge, expensive house, they are downsizing everything in their life to as close to only what they truly need as possible, so they can do more to bring glory to God then they would be able to. They're realizing that it's just stuff, and not really stuff that matters. Which makes my heart smile. I mean, how great is it that people are doing that on their own!? How great is it that this woman was shining so bright as she told me about all these things they are without that only a year ago would have made her think life was over without them? She spoke about this lightness that she and her husband have, that continues to grow as they continue to sort through the needs and the wants, the necessary, and the "it would be nice". Amazing. I find it absolutely amazing the things God does in the simplest way, with the quietest urging of our hearts.
Oh, and I finally got to talk to a man named Clyde. I told him the town I grew up in was named Clyde. I've seen him quite a bit, but have only just gotten the opportunity to talk to him. He was kind, funny, and entertaining. He had to get back to dish duty so we couldn't talk long, but he was so nice.

Our family went driving around and looked at Christmas lights, and attempted to go to bed early....but that didn't work out to well. I've been reigning with an iron first over Skip-Bo with Jeff, he hasn't won ONCE! hahahahahahahaha!
Up at 6 to get over to Sharen's for presents. It was fun seeing the kids get so excited over their gifts. I got some candles, perfume, lotion, mixing bowels, and the Bible Experience Old Testament on CD, which I super wanted.....the OT is hard to push through sometimes, but maybe that has more to do with the fact that I read right before bed ; )
I've made more chocolate, did some laundry, and am ready for a freakin nap!
The only thing that could have made this day better would be to see Jerry (SML, I know if you're reading this you're about to have a fit, but even if I'm okay with not seeing him I can still miss him so swim away from the worm!) This is the first Christmas in 7 years that I haven't seen him Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and I wasn't really aware of how much I would miss that guy.

So I hope that you've had a merry christmas, I hope that you've taken the time to look around at your friends and family and let them know you love them, that you appreciate them. I hope you know how blessed you are to be inside today, to be warm, to be so full you have to undo your pants (if you didn't wear an elastic waist). I hope that you have hope today, hope that if things are bad, they will be better, hope that if things are dark, light is just around the corner.

Merry Christmas!


P.S I Love You

Total chick flick. Total cheese. But I lapped up every second of it. Nicole and I went to see P.S. I Love You tonight and I got totally lost and absorbed in the movie. I even went and bought the soundtrack after dinner, the soundtrack is very good in it's own right!
The premise of the movie....which is presented in the previews so no spoilers here....
Holly is married to Jerry, who dies. He set up a system in order to send her mail and "projects" to help her grieve through his loss.
Harry Conick Jr (spelling?) was in it and he was hilarious! He had like verbal torrents when it came to talking to Holly (and he said women in general) which I could identify with (except with men of course).
But there was a moment in the movie when Daniel (HCjr) said that he wished he could be someones Jerry. He wished that someone would love him enough that their life was permanently changed for having loved him.....
I mean, don't we all want that? There are so many people that I have in my life that I have been changed by loving, that the sheer act of loving them is a privilege. How blessed am I that I have so many people to love and cherish so deeply?
I realize that he was talking romantically, because it wouldn't be a good romantic comedy otherwise right?
I want that, I want this all encompassing, inconvenient, passionate love. I moan and groan about my committed friends not wanting to hang out with me sometimes because it would be to much time spend apart from their sig. other....but sometimes instead of annoying me it sort of makes me jealous.
Don't get me wrong, I find the mountainous task of commitment overwhelming and terrifying, but the idea of being so content to spend the days just being with someone, mundane ordinary things, it's nice sometimes you know.
So all in all it was a great movie. Covering the span of love, loss, grief, family, friendships. There was a great scene between Holly and Denise (Lisa Kudrow) about the ways friends can call you on your shit and you love them more because of it. It made me think of a few of my friends that say some on the surface mean things to me, but they say them at a time that I really need to hear it to get my butt kicked out of a funk.
Good times.

Nicole and I went to Biaggi's after for dinner, just sat and talked like we haven't gotten to for a long while. I think of all the demands on my time that I seek out, that I like because it doesn't leave me at home, alone. However, in not taking time to just be, just sit and spend time with people, I miss out I think.
I'm spending the weekend with Stephanie who I used to live with. I swear, last night in the 3ish hours we were awake after I arrived I laughed so hard I almost peed like 5 times. I so miss living with her! She got me a new deck of Skip-Bo (the better to kick X's BUTT with) and a DVD Family Feud game...which is so fun to play! Stephanie and Nicole are playing now.
It's just been a nice weekend, relaxing, hilarious, and refreshing. Just perfect!
Plus I talked to deano on the phone before his drunken night out with old friend. I heart deano! I'm so happy that I stalked him so long and then forced him to cave to the fact that I'm a big deal and he should be my BFF!

Alright, they're done playing so I'm gonna jet.


Maybe then I wouldn't be so selfish

So I went to get my oil changed on my lunch break. I went through McDonalds on my way because I figured I could eat while I waited for my car to be taken care of.
I get to CarX and check my car in, as I'm turning bag in hand to walk to my seat this woman screams out "FOOD! OH LORD I'M SO HUNGRY!"
So I settle in my chair as she's telling me she's been there since 730 in the morning (it was then 2pm) and hadn't eaten anything.
So I shared my nuggets. I tried giving her more but she wouldn't take more.

Shortly thereafter the guy came in and told her her car was all set and she could go.

There was then 1 other woman and I in the waiting room, and another one entered.
I'm reading "The Problem of Pain" by CS Lewis, and trying to concentrate over Catherine's Court blaring out of the TV in the corner. Both women make phone calls.
Woman 1 is talking about how ready she is for vacation, and on and on and on....regular phone call you know.
Woman 2 is talking about how she works for this guy, who she's also friends with and how apparently last week or so she revealed something about him personally to a co-worker and she fears this has caused co-worker to lose respect for their manager (her friend).

Woman 2 is just carrying on and on about this situation and how she feels like she shouldn't even be upset but she just doesn't know how to make it right, she doesn't want to hurt friend/boss' reputation but sometimes she just wants to confide in people, but she constantly chooses the wrong people.
Then, silence. Pre-commercial, both women are listening to the person on the other end of the phone talk.
All of the sudden woman 2 blurts out...."I just wish I wasn't so damn selfish all the time. This isn't even ABOUT me and I'm making it about ME because I'm so damn selfish. If I was like Christ then I wouldn't be so DAMN SELFISH"


Woman 2 realizes she just shouted that in the middle of the CarX waiting room.

But you know, it got me thinking about how selfish we all are. I was sitting at my desk this morning thinking about how crazed I felt because I felt rushed this morning, and nothing was going right, and I had so much to do and no time to do it, and even if I did I would really just want to relax and take a nap or something. Then it was like someone flicked me between the eyes and told me to get over myself.
Then I overheard this conversation.
I mean, sometimes when stuff like this happens I just look up and say, "OK I GET IT!"
Lately I've begun to wrap myself up in my own interpersonal drama and thoughts of buy buy buy, get get get that this season can so often bring out in people. I find myself thinking less kind things, sleeping in later then necessary thus almost ensuring that I will be just a smidge late for work. I find myself begrudging the time that I spend doing things that I started out wanting to do, but have somehow changed my mind.

Even now.....thinking about me.
I realize there is an extent to which we all must think of ourselves in order to function. But I have a level that I'm comfortable with, and when my self absorbtion raises to much above that line I start rapidly speeding towards the totally and completely self absorbed, then a few weeks (if I'm lucky) or months later...I'm all wrapped up in me and realized that I'm so far away from where I want to be in certain things.

But, I know it will get better, I'll claw my way up. But somedays, I just feel so damn selfish.


You make me want to be brave

Conversations of late have had me thinking about commitment and the terror that surrounds it for me. My thoughts are rambling on the subject and, well, it's been interesting to follow random thoughts to their end and see what different directions they can take me, and how not terrified I am of some of the results.

But I digress.
I have a very full life. Until maybe yesterday I had always thought that a commitment would lessen that. I like that I can go where I want when I want and not have to ask anyone, or even really tell them if I don't want to....but I also don't have someone that I can take off on road trips with and have comfortable silences with in the car.
I like to have a plan, a formal vision of what my week is going to look like. In the last year or so I've been trying to be more relaxed on that, play it by ear as it were. Because while I understood that things don't always have to go perfectly, it's a very hard concept for me to live out.
Contrary to popular belief (or the belief of anyone that's ever set foot inside my house) I crave order and continuity. I like knowing that this is where I go when and what we're going to do. I often try to plan the fun right out of events.
I used to depend a lot on drinking to move past that, because when I drank, I didn't care what the heck happened, just that people were paying attention to me.
But the most fun that I've been having, is just the playing it by ear of late. The rambling conversations that you realize at the end lasted for hours, the spontaneous 7 hour shopping trips (I know, I'm surprised I lasted that long too) and wooden banana shaped plates from goodwill.
Yet, with all this order and planning that I have, I don't really make long term plans well. It's like I feel this need to exert maniacal control over the short term and I think I sacrifice the long term for that.
Ask me about my career plan. I'll give you some vague la-dee-da about ideas and what I think might happen.
Ask me about this weekend, I'll bullet point it for you down to the minute.
Ask me about school, I'll change the topic so fast you won't remember we were ever talking about it.
Ask me about what I'm doing tonight and I'll rapidly lay out the list that ends in my scheduling phone calls for conversations just to chat.

It all confuses me very much. This holding two opposite actions and beliefs at the very same time. I can imagine that some of you are confused too.
I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel contemplative, but if you ask me what I'm thinking about I couldn't tell you, it's like I'm thinking about...nothing. Either that or I feel some sort of insta-shame about whatever it is that I'm thinking about.....like it's not smart enough or witty enough to share.

I'm terrified that lists of requirements I make for men to meet are only so stringent so that no one could possible make the grade....thus allowing me to cower away from even the semblance of a commitment.
Should I calm down? Most definitely. I mean, of everything that I think that I want in a partner, I can tell you reasons why I also want the opposite of that reason. It seems that the list can dwindle down to only 1 finite point that has never changed.
I want to be loved by someone, and to love someone that shares the faith I have. It seems that everything else, for the most part (see even now I can't make up my mind), can be worked out, talked about, compromised.
But I want someone that will go to church with me. That will talk about the sermon with me, even if we don't get the same thing out of it, or even agree on the action that could/should go with it. I want someone that thinks faith is important, necessary.
I don't have all the answers to why with my faith, and I don't think it would be necessary for anyone else to either. But have faith, that's important.
Of all the things that have changed and evolved over the last almost 5 years, that really hasn't. To me that seems to mean that the rest, it's fluid, it changes and dissipates depending on the time of day.

I don't know how to get over this fear of commitment, this idea that no one will really stick around long enough to last a lifetime paralyzes me most days.
But today I feel brave. I felt brave yesterday, and maybe I'll feel brave tomorrow.
All I know is I'm feeling braver longer now, then I ever have before.
So there could be hope yet.

Let me tell you what you WILL do

Umm, what? Someone seriously said that to me yesterday. I almost laughed.
Do people not understand that if they showed the slightest kindness and understanding in a difficult situation that people would be far more willing to bend over backwards to help them?
Is that a difficult concept?

Hey Bobbie

Update your blog please..............

: )


My personal DNA

Saw this on a forum and took it.....interesting that they ranked me as more feminine then masculine....

You are an Animated Thinker.

personal DNA
about you
You are a Thinker
Your cautiousness, appreciation of functionality, and imagination combine to make you a THINKER.

You have a vivid capacity for imagery that allows you to see beyond your present circumstances.
You like to be sure of yourself before voicing your opinion.
A lot of your time is spent at home, or with the people you care about.
Although you may dream often, you're very aware of how things work, and you value things that work well.
You take comfort in the familiar, and value predictability—and others value those things in you.
Accordingly, you prefer a set routine, and although you often imagine how things can be different, you're hesitant to take risks to change things.
Sometimes you doubt whether you have the ability to face certain challenges, but your practical focus helps you solve most problems.
Because of this, you tend to be more reactive than proactive, thinking thoroughly about the challenges that you face.
You have a broad-based, theoretical understanding of the world that allows you to understand its workings.
You're not afraid to let your emotions guide you, and you're generally considerate of others' feelings as well.
Never one to be found in chic boutiques or trendy clothing stores, you take an extremely practical approach to getting dressed.

If you want to be different:
Try indulging your imagination a bit more by experiencing new and different things.
Have a little more faith in your capacity to do things—turn your thoughts into actions!
how you relate to others

You are Animated
You are outgoing, comfortable with others, and up for anything, which makes you ANIMATED.

Some people find crowds and parties exhausting, but not you! You are able to be yourself in many situations.
Sometimes it is hard for you to understand why others feel the way they do, but that doesn't stop you from trusting them or having faith that they are good people.
You know the world is complicated and that there is often more than one side to a story, so you are careful not to make judgments about others too hastily.
You would rather experience the world than sit back and observe it—you are not one to sit on the sidelines.
You are an independent thinker and don't get too worried about how others might perceive you—you are not self-conscious about being the active, engaged person that you are.
Although you have a keen understanding of different people's life circumstances, you occasionally have trouble seeing why people get so upset and emotional about things—they should just lighten up and have fun!
In addition to having faith in the world, you have faith in the people around you—you trust others to do the right thing and to be honest.

If you want to be different:
Remember that time alone can be just as fulfilling as time spent with others—take some time for yourself and you might find that there are many things in your inner world that are just as compelling as the world outside your window.
Your open-mindedness about the ways of world gives you an understanding of people's differences, but that knowledge doesn't always translate into sympathy. Don't be afraid to let your trust and understanding influence your feelings.

Here's where I rank 1-100





Trust in others





Attention to style





Sorry for the lack of updates....and by lack I mean like what....one day? And to think that X is ACTUALLY reading now!

So my weekend:
Friday went to PF Changs with Stephanie and her sister Kelly....and got HIT ON!
Never happens to me. Since I'm socially stunted we'll see how going back to see him goes...thinking about it makes me a little nauseous
Saturday worked at the bookstore and then to Bucca Di Beppos with Stephanie and her brother and his in-laws. Kelly was there too. Julie (Stephanie's sister in law)'s dad said neat a lot. So it's nice that X's campaign to bring back the word neat is chugging along
Sunday was church, then lunch with Joan, then hanging out with Claire and Fred, then Christmas part with small group

Yesterday was a surprise party at Red Lobster for Bobbie. She was pretty surprised! They have a great family. I was pretty much the only non-related person there, which was ok....they say that Justin (Bobbie's hubby) and I are really brother and sister so I suppose I can sneak in the related thing ; )

Not much else is going on. We got a bonus at work today (woot) so I should be getting my new computer at home in the next week or so....YIPPEE!


I'm full already

Stephanie is coming Stephanie is coming!
Her bday is Tuesday, but I can't remember if she's going to be 29 or 30 (eep!) and her nephew is getting baptized this Sunday.
So tonight we're going to PF Changs for dinner with her sister and sister's friend. Then tomorrow I work at the bookstore, and then we're going to dinner at Bucca di Beppos (family style italian restaurant). I'm full just thinking about it!

In other vomit inducing news......
I'm starting the planning and hunting process for buying a condo. Yes. A condo. I do not want a house, even if my life depended on it I would choose death before being solely responsible for yard work!
This all got started based out of my desperation to have my own washer and dryer. I want them so bad! I'm so tired of lugging gallons of laundry up and down stairs at my house, in and out of my car twice, and up and down stairs at Sharens...or worse yet, in and out of the laundrymat!
So I'm looking for a 2 bedroom 1 1/2-2 bath condo in Fairfield, Forest Park, or West Chester around 80-100K.
We'll see how that goes. I'm nauseous at the level of commitment that it will require, but I think it's worth it in the long run.
Right now I pay $549 for rent on a 1 bedroom 1 bath apt. To get an apt with a laundry room it will be about $100 more. So if I'm paying between $550 and $650 then I may as well build up equity...whatever the heck that means.
Ummm, what else.....
I don't know. I have to pee, but I don't want to get up.
I should have a home computer soon! Probably Christmasish time I'll be getting my new laptop. I've been remarkably un-stressed by not having a computer at home. The only time I really miss it is on Saturdays when I'm home...then the day is long without checking DMF and perusing.
I've been busy making chocolate every night this week. I've burned through a 10lb back of chocolate and am hopefully going to have Sharen get another 10lb bag tomorrow, weather permitting. Then I can start giving it away next week!
Alright......I think that's it.
I really have to go pee now.



I hate when I make a mistake. A pretty important one. Then I get everything all under control and worked out......then one last renegade repurcussion of the mistake pops up a month later and says....*surprise!*


And to lighten the mood....

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
2. Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
3. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.
4. The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his orders.
5. To write with a broken pencil is pointless.6. When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

Information is only useless if it doesn't fascinate you:

US Dollar bills are made out of cotton and linen.
Your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks so that it doesn’t digest itself

A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.

In ancient Rome, when a man testified in court he would swear on his testicles. (so I guess you had to have the balls to appear in court! boooooo)

It’s estimated that at any one time around 0.7% of the world’s population is drunk

The “spot” on the 7-Up logo comes from its inventor who had red eyes. He was an albino

315 entries in Webster’s 1996 dictionary were misspelled. (shudder!)

Playing cards were issued to British pilots in WWII. If captured, they could be soaked in water and unfolded to reveal a map for escape.

Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark’s stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode. (damn!)

During the California gold rush of 1849, miners sent their laundry to Honolulu for washing and pressing. Due to the extremely high costs in California during these boom years, it was deemed more feasible to send their shirts to Hawaii for servicing.

The numbers “172″ can be found on the back of the US 5 dollar bill, in the bushes at the base of the Lincoln Memorial

Coconuts kill about 150 people each year. That’s more than sharks. (look out guy from Rolling Stones)

It took Leonardo Da Vinci 10 years to paint Mona Lisa. He never signed or dated the painting. Leonardo and Mona had identical bone structures according to the painting. X-ray images have
shown that there are 3 other versions under the original.

The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

28% of Africa is classified as wilderness. In North America, its 38%.

The word “lethologica” describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want. (now try remembering that THAT'S the word you're looking for!)

Every year 4 people in the UK die putting their trousers on.

In every episode of “Seinfeld” there is a Superman picture or reference somewhere.

Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations (implemented on July 16, 1969) makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrials or their vehicles.

More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.

An American urologist bought Napoleon’s penis for $40,000.

Rats and horses can’t vomit.

Americans on average eat 18 acres of pizza every day.

An ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated. (who figured THAT out?!)

The average chocolate bar has 8 insects’ legs melted into it. (vomit)

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than every Nike factory worker in Malaysia combined.

In a survey of 200000 ostriches over 80 years, not one tried to bury its head in the sand.

Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

There have been over 600 lawsuits against Alexander Grahm Bell over rights to the patent of the telephone, the most valuable patent in U.S. history.

In “Silence of the Lambs”, Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) never blinks

In 1863, Paul Hubert of Bordeaux, France, was sentenced to life in jail for murder. After 21 years, it was discovered that he was convicted of murdering himself.

Jimmy Carter was the first U.S. President to be born in a hospital

What I've been warned about

I'm not leaving my desk for lunch today...so I'm trying to think about what other soapbox I can get up on...

I watched Apocalypto on Sunday. It was a good movie, but one that you don't realize is good until a few days after you watch it. Weird Mel Gibson!
It's hard to explain it. But basically a group of people in (maybe) the Mayan area were taken hostage by another tribe. They were marched for 3 days to make a blood sacrifice to the gods to atone for something or another.
The main characters name was Jaguar Paw.
Their necks are tied to bamboo poles to keep them in line while they march.
They pass through a burnt down village and there is a scene that has a little girl kneeling next to her dead mother crying.
When the little girl sees the men all marching by she runs to them. One of the captors says to stay away from her she has the life taking disease. The captor she's running at picks up a branch and starts pushing her back with it. He pushes her pretty hard, she's grunting trying to get them to let her close to them.
Again and again she is pushed back with the branch, and again and again she runs towards them trying desperately to be close to them. To be comforted, to be held, to be loved even?
She then gets pretty pissed and starts prophesying about how the day will turn to night and then back to day again (eclipse) and the Jaguar will see revenge for this. (yeah I didn't really get it either, watch the movie I don't feel like explaining it)

But that little girl did a good job. I thought about the ways I constantly run again and again into a branch that someone is using to keep me at bay. (of course it's figurative!)
I seem to latch on to these people at the oddest times, times when it is obvious not a good time for them to invest in me and then I am terribly dissapointed and upset that they don't want to be in relation to me....in whatever way that means. It's like I'm setting them up to fail, to let me down. All for the pleasure of saying, see, see, people will let you down and you can't depend on them. No one wants to be in relation to me.
But it's not them, do you see? It's me. I seem to seek out these people intentionally so I can curl up with my lonliness each night confident that the error, that the wrong is not on my part. That it's others that are unable, or unwilling to be close. When the truth is, I'm terrified, absolutely petrified to move forward into a relationship that could leave me feeling damaged and raw.
I don't know how to move past it. I don't know how to process the reasons that I feel this way. I'm pretty sure I know what most of them are.....and I thought that once I knew the reasons I would be able to find the answers on how to move past that fear into relationships. But that didn't happen so now what?
So now I just keep running towards captors with branches that push me away. I hold on to the convenient excuse that the fault lies with them not me.
I wait.

Oh, and I saw on some entertainment show last night an interview with John Mayer (I know). He said, "You know, someday we'll be 80, looking back at all these problems we had, and we'll realize they're just laughable, not that big a deal"

Make big shadows I can move in

I'm reading new book. I've had it for months and am just now getting to it. "Speaking of Faith" by Krista Tippet who had these conversations about faith on the radio and compiled them into a book.
In the beginning of the book is a poem:

"God Speaks to each of us as he makes us,
Then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond out recall,
Go to the limits of your longing
Embody me.
Flare up like flame
And make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand"
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke's Book of Hours:Love Poems to God, Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

I love that, it speaks to me in a way that I can't communicate easily.

"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror"
That especially strikes a chord. I so often hide from experiences that may possibly be uncomfortable. I withdraw in a way that doesn't allow for the chance of risk, rejection, or judgement. But it also doesn't allow for the love that I'm searching for the enter into my life. I heard somewhere, I can't remember if someone said it or if I read it.....but it said something about seeing the light because of the dark. Like sometimes you can't see how good things are until you see how bad they could be. You can't appreciate beauty until it is shadowed by uglyness.

There was another quote in the book:
"In the vast middle, faith is as much about questioning as it is about certainties. It is possible to be a believer and a listener at the same time, to be both fervent and searching, to nurture a vital identity and to wonder at the identities of others"

I have quite a few conversations with people about the certainty factor when it comes to beliefs. Like, in order to believe in and worship God I have to be able to articulate and define why it is that I believe in him. That makes no more sense to me then the fact that you can't be in love with someone until you can articulate and define why it is that you love them. I can articulate some things, but other things, it just resonates in me like music.
That used to drive me crazy before I was a believer. This idea that I would ask them to tell me why they believed in God and they couldn't tell me. It infuriated me! Now I find myself doing the exact same thing. Irony anyone?

Along these same sort of lines:
"We can construct factual accounts and systems from DNA, gross national product, legal code-but they don't begin to tell us how to order our astonishments, what matters in a life, what matters in a death, how to love, how we can be of service to one another"
"There are places in human experience that politics cannot analyze or address, and they are among our raw, essential, heartbreaking, and life-giving realities"

This constant drive to need to define and label why and what we believe. When people look at you do they see your beliefs or some cog to a machine that you don't really buy into? When people hear you talk what do they hear? Do they hear you saying things that are positive and uplifiting? Do they hear you cursing (hello, I know I'm guilty so put the fingers down please) and tearing others, especially your closest most cherished loved one, down?
No one tries to explain what it feels like on a summer day when you are sitting outside in the breeze. No one demands that for that day to actually exist you must articulate and label the way the sun felt, the way the breeze lifted the hair off the back of your neck and cooled you.
But we humans must always be trying to define and box up God, when shouldn't we just be trying our best to emulate him, to bring his glory to everything we do?

I think the book's going to be pretty good. I'm not even through the first chapter yet!


8 years

Anyone that was pre-blogger knows about my friend that was killed almost 8 years ago.
I wonder every now and again when it will stop being so raw and in my face all the time. The other day about 9pm I realized I hadn't thought of her until then. I felt guilty. But there are days when I can almost still smell her everywhere I go, days when it still feels like I'm at the store talking about life and I'm shocked when I look around and remember that she's gone and am numbed almost to the core with the grief that washed over me again and again as if she is murdered anew every time I think about it.
I went to lunch today, I ate a bag of popcorn at my desk so I didn't grab food.
I ran to the gas station and the bank. I pulled into the gas station and there was an ice truck parked there. Thoughts of dlc floated up out of my heart. I walked in to pay and the ice guy walked out saying bye to the worker behind the counter. I felt nauseous, like I could just throw up. jmr that killed dlc worked for an ice company. It's how he figured out where to hit, they were on his ice truck route. She's in my head today, and I tip between happy and sad. I'm happy because I love her so much and I can think about the times we had and the person she was. I'm sad because those thoughts are always tainted by the end of her life. It's like sometimes I can't look directly at her memory because otherwise I'll see the end that I don't want to remember. What a silly effect for the driver of the ice truck to have on me. But, I looked at him hard, tried to remember what he looked like....just in case.
I know that some people don't understand why I'm friends with jcwc. It's all tangled up, complicated and simple. It's not the only reason we're friends, but it's one of the reasons. How do you go through something like that with someone and then not speak? How could I have had the conversations and gamet of experiences I did with him, how could we have waded through her death together and not speak? The very thought of it is beyond my comprehension. How could I walk away from the one person that can comfort me without even speaking or touching, without even knowing that I'm upset? Simple. I can't. That's the other part of this web. My thoughts of her will always be entangled in my love for him, and I don't think I'll ever be free of it, and somedays I'm not sure that I want to be free from it. So many thoughts and memories come flooding back again and again. Is it possible to think of the past so much without hiding in it? Is it possible to be available to any man when I feel so deeply and inextripably connected to another? If push came to shove could I let him go? If either of us were motivated towards commitment could I bear to see who he chooses that isn't me? These are all questions that must be saved for another day, as my lunch is over and back in the compartment it will go.


The Secrets that Seperate Us

So I'm totally hooked on post secret. It's a blogish thing where people make postcards and mail them annonymously to this guy and he shares them. There are books too. This morning on the way to CGM I was thinking about some secrets that were kept in my mom's family. I am so careful to almost never think about them because they almost shatter me again and again whenever I think of the secrets, and even the people involved with keeping them. Then I get to work and I see this post secret.
Last night I watched this cheese movie on ABC called, "For One More Day" It's based off of a book by Frank Albom's, the same guy that wrote Tuesdays With Morrie. Now, I'm not a huge fan of his, for reasons that are really unimportant. But I have no cable and Family Guy was a repeat, so I watched. Towards the end of the movie the main character was talking to his daughter, in what might be the worst use of foreshadowing EVER, and they are talking about family secrets. She asked him why his mom kept *example* a secret for so many years. He replied something along the lines of, "why does anyone keep secrets? Is the reason ever good enough?"
Granted, I'm not talking about presants, or things like that. I'm talking about secrets that are hurtful. I'm torn, I mean I honestly vaccillate between which is better.
Would it have been better had I never found out about the deception that my mom's dad was capable of? Would it have been better had I continue to falsly paint him in my mind as the martyr to my mom's mom and sister? Would I have been any less knocked completely out of orbit had I found out that his proclamations of "you're only as good as your word, you must have integrity in your life, you must always tell the truth no matter how hard" were totally and completely false? Would my heart have broken less had I found out when I was younger, angrier, and less willing, or completely unwilling, to forgive?
I just don't know.
I know that I thought he was so funny, a bigger then life person that I never thought could let me down. So when I found out about his deception, his utter lack of integrity in 95% of his life, is it surprising that I went ahead and pushed the last 5% over there and figured they were lies too? Harder still is that it seemed like people just didn't notice. People still talk about mom's sister and mom and the things they did that were wrong, but no one mentions that none of the deception and fraud would have been possible without him moving forward. He had to have been the driving force behind it because otherwise the fraud would have fizzled. But no one talks about it.
So which is better? It may as well have stayed a secret for all the good knowing about it is doing. No one else seems as let down as I am by the whole situation, and that just makes me feel crazy, like my whole perspective on the situation is wrong somehow.
For the life of me I can't figure out why there had to be so many secrets, and why I had to be the invisible one that overheard them conspiring on the sun porch. I wish I never heard anything they ever said.
Secrets make me feel stupid. Like I'm not in on some big joke. Like I'm the only one that's left out.
I loathe when people blame things on their childhood, when they are plenty old enough to screw themselves up and stop blaming it on their family.
I try so hard to not think about it, because then it makes me want to blame them for my complete terror of all things commitment related, for the ease in which I can confide these things online, but I can't speak them out loud to someone in person or on the phone.
But I'm 28, I alone am responsible for the decisions I make. For the choice of my fear. For the choice of my solitude. Because even though I don't choose to be alone per say, I choose to not be with someone...which is a choice right?
I'm rambling.
In the end, I don't think that it would have hurt any less had I found out earlier that the whole of my mom's dad's persona was a lie, that the whole of his integrity and ethics was pure hogwash. Oh, what he said was right. He talked a good talk. But he didn't live it, and while he used to be an example of humor, compassion and honestly that I looked up to and wanted to be like. Now, he's just as usefull for the opposite reason.
He and my mom's mom and sister and the beacons at the other end of the spectrum. I try to stay as far away from acting anything like them as possible, and I'm doing alright so far.
Ben said once, that where there are secrets, sin is crouching at the door.
I liked that. It seemed to verbalize a groaning in me that I had not to that point been able to speak out loud. That one line alone would have made the series he preached worth it, but the rest was incredibly life changing for me. (pimp alert......http://www.4cornerschurch.com/messages/archives/?next=10 (get your sexyback))
I have no idea how to end this, but I have to get to making the Benjamin spreadsheet.....


Don't put it on the inside Aunt Bethany

So my nephew, the cutiepie in the bottom of the previous post, has had the rhea gilberts for the last few days.
rhea gilberts=diarrhea
He's potty training but still afraid to go #2 in the toilet. So his butt is red, in and out of the crack. Last night while Christmas Tree decorating festivities were going on he started to smell a little....ripe. So we went upstairs to change his diaper. The whole way he kept saying, "Don't put it on the inside Aunt Bethany". Then my sister yelled up to put the boo boo medicine on his butt. Which means in and out of the crack.
His poor tookus was beet red and he sobbed through most of the diaper changing process.
But it got me thinking about something other then poop.....which is mainly a survival tactic when you're changing diapers : )

How often do we not want to do something because it could hurt, even though it's what's best for us. How many times do we cry and wail and thrash against what in the long run will improve us and make our life better? How often do we cry out to God to correct us, but only where it doesn't hurt?
I'm perfectly fine with God convicting me to be more generous with my time, but if he says one thing to me about changing my attitude, my language, or my behaviour in specific areas I cry, and thrash around and say "only on the outside God". I often only want to be changed on the surface, superficially where it doesn't take growth, stretching, and maybe some pain.
Real change, on the inside, never comes easy. It's a changing of life long learned behaviors and thoughts, it's about not only changing who you are but people's perception of you. Because if you change on the inside your old buddies will have to change to. Change isn't stagnant, it isn't singular. When I because believer my friends and family had to change to, they had to shift their view of me from before I had a relationship with Christ to how I was after. When I was with JCWC and then wasn't people had to change their perception of the Bethany that was in a relationship and one that wasn't good for her by their standards. When JCWC and I became tight friends again after so long people had to adjust how they saw him because of the inside change that had happened in him.
And so on and so forth.
It's difficult to deal with that for me sometimes. Sometimes I wish I could be content again just pinging around the world, wandering aimlessly and believing that there were no eternal consequences for my thoughts and actions. But over the last, gosh 5 years already?, since I became a believer that outside change is slowly but surely seeping inside. It has not been easy, and I still cry and say not on the inside, just the outside.
Looking back though, seeing the wreckage that I created in my wake and the vengance with which I spoke I know that I wouldn't trade a single second of the pain.
I'm still going to cry about it, I'll still crunch my eyes shut and say "not on the inside". I'm not sure the change has seeped that deep yet, but I'm working on it.

What is it that you cry out "not on the inside" about? Where is the change that is being effected in your life, the improvements and refining of the core of who you are and why is it so painful? I often think about those painful "inside" moments in my own life, and when I look at the reasons behind my tantrums, the need for change often becomes glaringly clear.

On Customer Service

I work in customer service. I have worked in customer service essentially my whole earning an actual paycheck life. (with the exception of two years, during which other branches in the bank were considered my "customers"). I think that I do a pretty darn good job customer serving. I like it a lot. I like making people's problems better, or commiserating with them when something can't be fixed, or at least not the way they wish it would be. However, I am an actual human being you know. So maybe when you call you could remember that? I'd really super appreciate it.
It makes me cringe when I hear people talking about customer service, because it will always be bad. I mean, people call customer service numbers with a huge chip on their shoulders about whatever it is that has inconvenienced them. I get it. Life is hard. Even if it's a mistake that you made then it's probably still my fault and I should probably bend over and take it like a good customer service rep.
However. Might I petition to you one teensy eensy thing?
Be kind. Remember that the person your talking to, railing against, calling stupid and ignorant is an actual person too. I mean, I'm not asking you to do anything so drastic as consider their feelings or anything, but maybe you could treat them a step above the scum on the bottom of the shit on the bottom of your shoe. I'm not even asking you to give them leeway because their life may be falling apart and they're working hard to keep it together and help you meet whatever instant gratification need that you may have as much as they can within the bounds of their companies policy. I'm just asking you to treat other people the way you would want to be treated if you were on the other side of the phone/counter.
I'm sure that we all have come across ungrateful, spiteful, and mean spirited customers in whatever field it is that we work in. How did it make you feel when someone treated you like that? If it made you feel good, coughmasochistcough, then keep going. But if it made you feel like crap, like you can't do anything right, then maybe you could take a deep breath and think before you speak.
Maybe try this Christmas season to remember that the holidays aren't about ruining a clerks day and getting them fired. Maybe, and I know this is tough, remember that this holiday isn't about your entitlement to be treated like royalty and waited on hand and foot. Maybe, when you're holding something that you would like to know the price of, you could turn it over and look for a price tag before asking a cashier that is chipping away at a 10 person deep line at the register or inturrupt a clerk on the floor that is already helping someone that actually needs it.
Just a thought : )

On a completely unrelated note. How CUTE is my nephew!

A smidge corny, but I like it

K forwarded this to me today, which I thought was very timely based on our conversation yesterday (see previous post). A little corny, but you know, most forwards are!


My Children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking my name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own.. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santa's and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town. Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1-8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, here is my wish list.
Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up.. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary --especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine. Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love, and remember: I LOVE YOU



An interesting conversation

This is the conversation I've been having today, notice now long winded I am....*sigh*

So I was curious as to what you were going to say when we were talking about not giving L his gift until Monday and offending people.

I was going to say that I think that Christians shouldn't be so darn offended all the time that people don’t worry about us. We have new life in Christ and therefore understand things that are not of this world that non-believers can"t understand without that relationship with Christ. Therefore, our reaction to keep fighting and winning the battle is useless. To me it causes nothing but more estrangement between believers and non-believers. I’m not saying don’t stand up for your faith, I’m not saying when people are talking to you about Christmas don’t be absolutely clear that we believe that it’s about Christ’s birth.
But “shaming” people for not allowing us to have a Christmas tree as opposed to a non-denom tree is pointless. We all want to talk about our faith, but we should be living it too. Jesus met with people that were followers of the law but not of God and he didn’t spend his time trying to make them believe they were wrong, or argue semantics about the name of a day. He loved them, he lived in community with them, he lived faith in addition to speaking about it.

If Christians are going to be vindictive and manipulative about bringing in all religious ornaments when they were specifically notified that the company is having a non-denom holiday celebration then what message does that send? I became a believer because people took the time to invest in my life, to listen to what I had to say and because believers gently spent time with me and lived out what it was they read in the bible. I did not become a believer because someone hung a nativity on the Christmas tree at the bank I worked at. I did not become a believer because people passive aggressively threw God in my face time and time again because they were going to push me towards him.
I’m not saying that people can’t come to faith that way, but it is by far the lesser of percentages you know….and coming from where I came from before I was saved, every single forced celebration pushed me farther and farther from Jesus because I didn’t want to be pushy and righteous like the people witnessing to me.
Not saying you are like that in even the slightest bit.
But Jesus, to the point of dying on the cross, didn’t get offended except when someone spoke out against his father in heaven. So who are we to be offended because we can’t say Christmas when we are certainly more then free to still celebrate the joy that is in a relationship with Christ in every way. No one’s blaspheming God by taking away the word Christmas for 40 hours a week, no one’s persecuting us for faith by calling it non-denominational tree. But Christians are still so offended that they have to go to battle and fight the fight with non-believers? I don’t buy it. They’ll know we are Christians by our love not our battle tactics.

honestly, I was bothered by it more than I thought I would have been and more than I would have liked to have been. I remember our pastor preaching one Sunday about how easily offended we are. Or maybe that was you telling me about your pastor? So yeah, after I had my fit about it, I realized how much I really over reacted. And while I see your point where Jesus wasn’t offended when he was crucified and endured all that He did and I agree with that and what you said about living among those who were followers of the law.
I am bothered by the fact that this country has come away from the beliefs it was founded upon and that it seems those concerned with being politically correct cannot see why the holiday originated. All other holidays, be it they are the non-religious holidays, we certainly remember why we have the holiday and reserve time to reflect on that. At times it seems that they are just pushing the Christian holidays farther from the truth, you know? And I’m sure you’ve heard this point argued before but if a country is founded upon a certain religion, or the official religion of a country, people who move or visit there expect to see those religious traditions or expressions of faith. But when it comes to America, the melting pot, it’s hush hush about religion, when it’s the freedom of religion and speech that draw a lot to America. There, I think I’m done…

Well, America is the melting pot. While this country may have been founded by Christians per say, it was founded based on the melting pot ideals. That people can come here and be free to express themselves whether it is Christian or not, whether it is protestant, catholic or whatever.
I don’t know exactly. I think that Christians spend so much time worrying about what will make them feel better and doing nothing to help other people feel better. It may just be the outreach kick that I’m on, but until we all asked M no one asked anyone why they were offended. We all just complained about being offended without thinking that M may have been one of the people that was happy that it was a non-denom tree you know.
I mean, I get what your saying. If America is the melting pot then why isn’t Christianity included. But America wasn’t founded to be a Christian community. That’s a misnomer perpetuated by the evangelical republicans that like their way of life. Not that all evangelical republicans are the enemy, but I’m saying.
Christians want to say that America is Christian only, that’s what we’re founded on and that’s what we should be. But that hasn’t been true for a very long time. Yet Christians keep running into the same wall the same way to try to change that. Passing laws, trying to stop congress from passing laws that threaten their system of religion that suits their needs and lifestyle, I don’t recall a single place in the bible where Jesus went before the Sadducees and petitioned them to pass a law that proved he was the Messiah. He just was. He didn’t need laws or approval, or consent to be the Messiah because that was the entirety of his being.
I think that it can be a tricky line to walk, because I agree that we should defend our beliefs. But God is God is God is God you know. He’s not changing no matter what happens here on earth.
The bottom line to me is that how are we going to argue the significance of Christmas to people that don’t even acknowledge or know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the One True Living God? It’s like trying to convince me that the sky is purple. It’s obvious to me that it’s blue, if I can’t see the purple because I don’t view the sky through the lens of perception that you do then all we’re doing is arguing about something insignificant. Should you be talking to me about the lens that you’re viewing the sky through?
I mean, if people don’t know Christ, then how can they see the things that believers see? Christ is the lens that we all view the world and it’s behavior, thoughts, beliefs etc., through.
Why are we arguing semantics and other superficial opinions when the one belief, or opinion, that should and to me does count is the questions, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? If the answer to that is no then everything, everything else should fall to the wayside until we can help that person find their relationship with Christ. To me anything else and we’re just missing the point.

Now, I will amend all that to say, that between believers, you, me, S, I have no problem with those debates and conversations. Heck, we can debate the meaning behind one word in the bible, the difference between predestination and free will, if the 10 Commandments should be on the court house lawn, and so many other things until the day we die. I love that stuff. But that stuff, it gets in the way of non-believers finding a relationship with Christ, understanding that humans are an imperfect representation of the pure love that God has for us. Those peripheral debates and conversations about who is more right or more offended, they fall to the wayside when someone comes to belief in Christ as their savior. God doesn’t celebrate because someone was right, someone was most vindicated in paying back an offense.

And that's about it for now. I'm waiting for the reply, but she's talking weddings at the moment : )
I'm all riled up on a soapbox about this now and nowhere to direct all that energy....so aren't you all lucky!


Isn't it funny?

The way you have one experience that was so visceral and lovely, and then the rest of the weekend conversations and meetings follow that same experience? I think it's just lovely. It's the weekend I had last weekend.
I went to Cleveland Saturday and had a great time just hanging out with Jake and talking, something we don't get to do nearly enough. Because Ang and Mel left later then expected he and I had almost 4 1/2 hours of uninturrupted time together and it was so restful, so reassuring to talk to someone that seems so atuned to the crazy in my head...but you know without all that annoying sexual (does he like me like me or just like me and vice versa) tension mucking it up. Saturday night I went to see Rob Bell speak (see previous long winded entry) and then had a lovely drive home that took four hours but only felt like 1 oddly enough.
Then Sunday morning I went to church. I love my church, have I mentioned that lately? I mean, I hear people complaining about their churches and how broken and disjointed they are and while I feel bad, I feel so lucky to be in a church like mine. Granted the people in my church are FAR from perfect, but in their imperfections they are so genuine and transparent about it that you can't help but love them.
But I digress....I know I know.
Sunday was the last part of a three part sermon series called, "The Hard Questions Jesus Asked Series" (pimp alert....http://www.4cornerschurch.com/messages/series/ ). This one was based on the question that Jesus asked Pilate before he was handed over for crucifixtion John 18:34
34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
It seemed to almost just be a continuation of the talk Rob Bell gave in a lot of ways. Talking about the empty rituals and measurements that are almost unatainable for people to live up to.
It was just really good, and I love that I get to play even a small part in the growth that is happening at our church.
It just really excites me.

So then I went home Sunday and watched "Everything is Spiritual" DVD that I bought. It's the talk from Rob Bells last tour. I'll have another long winded entry about that because it was so good, took a lot of notes on that one too.
Bible study Sunday night with a great bunch of people from my church. We talk about the sermon that Ben gives on Sunday as our "curriculum". I find it so refreshing and filling to be able to process the sermons that way with other people. Gertrude and Agnes have grown bored with my soap box proclamations when I get home from church on Sunday, so they've enjoyed that I have this group to talk to (they're my cats, just in case you didn't know)
I got home from bible study and X called. We had an almost 2 hour conversation that ranged from what was rolling around in my head about RB and church to our friendship. It was hilarious, endearing, and reassuring that we're on the same page about these things. I can tell you one thing. X is a pretty stand up X person, I love that we are friends.
Monday I went to bed at 830, and with the exception of waking up at 1130 to set my alarms I slept straight through until 730 Tuesday. Yeah, and I totally could have slept some more.
Yesterday I had a moment or two of irrationality (I know, shocking) and while I still feel that my reaction (in my head, because why should I tell people how I feel when they can just guess?) was perfectly valid and called for, it was nice to once again be able to decompress about it with X. X and I had some Wendy's for dinner, watched some Family guy and just chilaxed. It was again, lovely.
I woke up this morning feeling better about certain situations then I have in 3 weeks, I woke up feeling optimistic once again that things can be better and I can move out of this irrational fear and anxiety that seem to have been gripping my head of late. I woke up this morning knowing that X played a pretty big part in that and for that, I say thank you. (Not that X ever reads these in a timely manner if at all) : )

Oh, and I also borrowed Josh Ritters CD from X and I'm loving it. It's so good, for something I've never heard before, and someone I've never heard of before.

Wow, apparently this is just a super kudos to X thread : )


Rob Bell

I went to Cleveland last Saturday to see Rob Bell speak on his "the gods aren't angry" tour. I heard some hoopla before I went about people protesting Rob Bell and saying he was a heretic. Their contention was that he was preaching universalism (see previous blogs). But I didn't really get that, and I'm hard pressed to figure out how they did. It seems to me they got that impression the same way that a certain baptist church in Kansas gets the impression that God hates a particular type of people. But that could just be me.
*That sentence was a lot clearer, but I refuse to give that church the publicity that they so strongly desire, but do not deserve*
So Rob's contention started with an analogy about how the ancient civilizations worshipped multiple deities. How they had to make peace with these gods to keep them on their side. They sacrificed and sacrificed repeatedly in order to make the gods happy. This is a vicious cycle of sorts, the more they were blessed the more they had to sacrifice to keep the gods please, the less they were blessed the more they had to sacrifice to make the gods happy again.
Bell spoke about many of the deities by name, Kubbelah a goddess near Sartis that had men is such throes of worship they were castrating themselves by the thousands *youch*, Molek, who was called the detestable god in Hebrew scripture. Molek required that the first born child be sacrifice in fire. But on and on and on the examples were of gods requiring that people give them what was most precious to them in order to make peace with that god, in order for that god to continue to bless them.
Bell said that when God called Abraham out of his fathers house it was the first time a god showed up that was involved in direct communication with humanity, that humanity didn't have to guess where they stood.
Now, I have been told this is untrue, that there is other examples of this. But I'm not certain myself. I'm not necessarily endorsing what bell is saying as 100% fact, I'm repeating what he said, mixed with random rants and digressions.
Bell told of an ancient Jewish story that had Abraham entering his fathers house late at night and taking an axe and smashing all but one of the statues of deities, and then placing the axe in that deities hands. When Abraham's father woke up he said, "What happened!" (OK, so maybe that's not a direct quote) Abraham told him that that idol wanted to show his supremacy to the others so he smashed them as proof. Abraham's father said that wasn't possible, the idols aren't living, he made them and he knows they aren't alive. Abraham replied, "Then why do you bow down to them?" (again not necessarily a direct quote)
True or not I thought that was a great illustration at least.
Bell said the point was that God revealed himself on the scene and showed that it was not humanities responsibility to make peace with God, but that God was the one that would be making peace with them. I think this is where the protesters started smelling heresy, but I can't know for sure.
I can understand what Bell is saying, that humanity isn't necessarily solely responsible for making peace with God, because God is accepting that peace, making it himself and therefore it's an interactive relationship. But I think the important clarification here is that the other gods required repeated sacrifice for the same thing, over and over again humanity had to give what was most precious to them in order to win favor with gods. This God, the one true living God said, that's not the way it is.
When humanity sacrificed things to this God, they could walk away from the alter knowing that it was done, the case was closed and God had moved on.
That's the difference.

How are you guys doing? I know this is long, but well, get over it.

Bell spoke of the story in the bible when God instructed Abraham to take his son up to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him. Bell said, notice how Abraham isn't surprised, isn't shocked in the slightest that God had asked this of him. To Abraham, this was normal, a Tuesday in a mundane week. Abraham was used to gods asking him to sacrifice what was most precious to him. Bell said that a lot of preachers focus on the obedience of Abraham. Which is important to note. But Bell said he thought all the drama in the story is when God intervenes with the sacrifice and says, wait, there's a ram in that thicket, don't sacrifice your son sacrifice the ram. The point being, that this is a whole different God, one that provides for his people. God doesn't require that humanity sacrifice that which is most precious, he only requires that they trust.
Which isn't that the hardest part sometimes? To trust that God won't go away and find that you are truly not worth his time or love. To trust that God really is a loving and benevolent God, to trust that when you look around and see so much hurt and pain, so much damage and violence in a world so fallen people can't even see it anymore. Trust is incredibly difficult for me. But in this journey God's taking me on, it's never not been worth it.
Bell said that when you sacrifice to this God, to the God that you can sacrifice on the alter, repent, then turn and walk away knowing that the case is closed.

Bell talked about Jesus and the Sadducee's. How the Sadducee's had a pretty good thing going for them with this temple sacrifice. It made them important, wealthy, big deals. When their system was threatened they responded with violence. Which is why when Jesus threatened their system they knew they had to protect it with violence.
In defying, subverting, and trying to change the system of violence that the Sadducee's were thriving under Jesus found himself defiled, beaten, hung on an cross and killed. Jesus didn't raise a sword, a fist, he didn't lash out with violence.
Because if Jesus had resorted to the Sadducee's way of protecting the system he represented, then he wouldn't have been different, revolutionary. He wouldn't have been anything new.

Bell talked about the requirements of the gods, the requirements of violence they had. He said, this God, our God, doesn't require that we slit somethings throat in order for God to have a relationship with him, for him to love us.
Bell asked, "Have we really moved past this system of violence, this worship of multi deities, or do we just call them different names?" Despondency, anxiety, fear, money, materialism, greed......how are these idols any different from this system of worship?
How is it that we get so lost, so broken that we feel there is no way to be fixed? Where does that come from? Bell told so many stories of the suffering he witnessed, or heard stories of. How have we come to have such darkness hanging over our lives?

We carry these burdens, this sadness, this nothingness (alert: Neverending Story reference!) for no reason. We compartmentalize, try to hide the shame that sinks us lower and lower into this sacrifice and sacrifice and sacrifice cycle. Thinking that we need to keep sacrificing that which is most precious to us in order to have a relationship with God. We like to believe that we are the only ones that carry this burden, but our burdens are carried by our spouses, children, parents, friends. These burdens shape the lens that we view the world through, that we view ourselves through, and God keeps coming back and back and back and back and saying, stop. Let me carry those. Repent and walk away knowing that the case is closed and I don't remember these things you told me.
We've locked ourselves in these prisons of guilt, anger, fear, self-loathing, wrapped up in a profound sense of what we're not. If we don't put this on the alter for God, these things will eat us alive.
Bell spoke about quite a few self-mutilating women that he had come in contact with. He compared them to the prophets of ba'al who would cut themselves to have their blood be the sacrifice. X disagrees with that comparison, which is OK. But having cut, I know it's a little true. This idea of the pressure building and needing to feel something, the ritual of cutting is a release, but only a temporary one. Eventually you will need to cut again. With God, that ritual is not needed. Repent, go to the alter and walk away knowing the case is closed.
Speaking of ritual, Bell said,
"Christ centered ritual reminds, enlightens, opens eyes again to the reconciliation of life, peace that has already been made. If the ritual is piling on, adding despair, worry, or stress it is not Christ centered no matter what language you use to describe it"

This really resonated with my friend Angie. She is so torn apart by the empty and meaningless ritual in her church, wondering if they realize that going to church and worshipping God is about more then wearing the right clothes, saying the right thing etc.

Bell spoke about Hebrews, the verse where Christians were called to be a living sacrifice. We are called to put flesh and blood on the bones of the sacrifice (which was understood to be something dead, not living). We are called to, through our words and actions, help people understand this God that longs for reconciliation with humanity, he doesn't long for the appropriate outfit, or the right style of hair. He doesn't long for women to wear dresses or hats or for women to stay home. He longs for humanity to love him, to worship him and follow his Son.

Finally, (I know you thought this moment would never come!) Rob told so many illustrations throughout the night. I wish I could share them all but some of you are already asleep...JUSTIN WAKE UP! (sorry about that folks). One of them I found particularly poignant was on that he said was in a book by Dr. Richard Selzer.
Dr. Selzer operated on a woman who was in a car accident that so damaged her face he literally had to sew it back together. There were scars and her mouth ended up being crooked because of it. Her husband requested that he be there when they took the bandages off for the first time. When they had removed all of the bandages he immediately knelt, kissed her crooked mouth and said, "I like it".
Immediate, not recoiling, not hesitating, not thinking about if he could still love his wife looking as she did.
It reminded me of how I think Christ sees us. Crooked, broken and sew back together. Yet he doesn't hesitate when we go to him, he just loves us.

I watched Bells previous tour (Everything is Spiritual) Sunday, but I'll write up my notes and thoughts on that one tomorrow, this was darn tootin long!