05 November 2008

We the People, Indeed

I find myself profoundly disappointed in my fellow American citizens, this morning. I have stayed largely out of the political arguments in the last four thousand years of 2008 Presidential campaigning, but I awoke to the news that the majority of the other voters in my nation elected someone who is, at best, frightening. Unlike so many of the liberal idiots out there that I countermand, I respect the office of the President of the United States. Even when President Clinton was destroying our military and disgracing our nation before the eyes of the world, I still supported him as POTUS. I will always respect that office, regardless of its occupant. When January gets here, I will resign myself to trying to find something of which to be supportive about the reprehensible erstwhile Senator.

It is my considered opinion that no human being, or even any non-human with any shred of decency, should cast a vote in favor of someone who is pro-infanticide. Let me explain that term. I'm not using it as I would "pro-death" for the self-absorbed, morally reprehensible, irresponsible, wastrels of life who support abortion. Rather, I use it because he actually stood up and argued that babies who SURVIVE ABORTIONS-- as in they lived through the attempt on their lives, past delivery--should be murdered. THAT is INFANTICIDE. His reasoning is that if it isn't legal for you to kill babies who survive abortions, then maybe it wouldn't be legal at some point for you to kill babies at all, even the ones who haven't been born yet. Great. This is the guy you voted for.

I will not remark on all of the many, many, many other reasons why this individual should not have been elected to anything, because I believe that the above is reason enough. Anyone who is in favor of murdering a child after birth, in favor enough to argue FOR it in a state Senate and defend his argument in public, is also capable of many other, equally despicable things. It would not surprise me if blog posts like this one, and who knows how many others that point out the truth about his actions and stances, were suddenly to disappear.

Keep in mind that, if the day comes that your right to defend yourself, your right to speak freely (your right to ideological and political dissent), your right to practice the religion of your choice (anything non-islamic), your right to participate in the American dream disappear, it's because of people like this one, getting put into positions of power.

In the days of the new Messiah, er, I mean President-elect, the things that make our nation great will be under a methodical attack, however it will be hard to perceive. Political ground will shift like sand under our feet, and slowly, our rights, our humanity, and our way of life will erode even further than it has until now.

I believe in the democratic process. I believe in our way of life. I believe that of all the flawed political systems out there, that ours is the best. I believe that America is still comprised of people who, at their core, are basically decent (despite their attempts to prove me wrong with their votes). I believe that this republic will stand through the next four years, and that it could actually grow stronger for the battles it will have to fight within its own borders. I believe that I can find some way to be supportive of the office of the President without selling my very soul to the devil. But, I also believe that this election is far from our finest moment.


28 September 2008


So, it is with great joy and trepidation that I prepare for a move that will take me another 900 miles across the country. That's right. I'm moving. Again. I'm moving to Florida, this time, and yes, that's my house! :) Two weeks from yesterday, I'll be hitting the road with my parents and all my earthly belongings, heading off into the wild yue blonder... Give me a buzz if you want to know more.

Much love.

16 September 2008

Quote for Today

"The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman's heart."

~Josiah G. Holland~

Of Grace and Graciousness

If you know me at all, you know that one of the strongest words in my life is “grace.” The concept of grace is incredibly hard to grasp. It’s hard to explain a nebulous concept, even when it’s concrete, substantial in your own life. Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is an undeserved second chance. Grace is what ultimately gets us through life. Grace, in some regards, is life.

Grace is what creates an atmosphere that allows reconciliation. Grace breeds mercy. Grace provides a way out, when there’s no way out. Grace is what heralds love, kindness, patience, and myriad other qualities. Grace is indispensable.

Have you ever experienced grace? Perhaps a better question would be this: have you ever experienced grace and recognized it for what it is? I hope your answer is in the affirmative. If it’s not, take off the blinders. I am firmly convinced that there is not a soul in existence who hasn’t experienced some measure of grace. Stop and think about it for a moment. Have you ever made some harsh statement in the heat of a moment and then been forgiven for it? Have you ever made a bad decision, then been miraculously released from the consequences? Has someone been patient with you when you’ve been mean-spirited? Has someone applied the Golden Rule to you? Have you accepted the Salvation of Christ? Have you been relieved of responsibility for something that you couldn’t handle? Have you ever been loved by someone? Have you ever been treated kindly? All of these things are measures of grace—some large, some small, but grace, all.

I have, in my life, experienced great, heaping gobs of grace. It just piles up around me and runs down me. I can’t seem to wade through it all to even find where it ends, and yet, there are times when I am less than gracious to those around me. I suppose it’s something to which everyone must devote effort, but there are moments when I’m truly ashamed of my lack of graciousness, considering it all.

One of the new challenges in my life is helping me grow in the graciousness that I extend to others. Perhaps it is because of the fact that I pile up unmerited favor for myself and sometimes hoard it instead of dispensing it freely to others. Either way, I pray that the purpose of God is fulfilled in this challenge.

You know, sometimes grace appears in the strangest ways. My dad brought an instance of grace to my attention that I had entirely missed. This past weekend, my car broke down. Gasp! My steadfast, faithful car! Heavens, no! Yes. Sigh. Let me share the instances of grace with you. Dad pointed one out, and the more I think of it, the more I find.

The battery had died, inexplicably, with no warning, when it had worked fine a few minutes previously. Dead as a doornail. Dead. Dead. Dead. I went to the trunk to retrieve my jumper cables. I am anal-retentive about making sure that there are jumper cables in my vehicle. I always keep them in the wheel well with the spare tire, so that I don’t inadvertently remove them when I clean out the trunk or something. I opened up the wheel well, and, wait. What in the world!? No jumper cables. (The only thing I ultimately came up with is that when I had a flat over a year ago and the shop was putting the spare back in the trunk, they must have removed my jumper cables and not put them back afterward. Sigh.) Grace instance #1: my girlfriend and her boyfriend were there and were willing to jump my car with hers. Grace instance #2: someone else was nearby and was willing to loan us jumper cables. We continued with our plans, and when we got to our destination, we realized that my car was dead again. Grace instance #3: a very kind young man bent the rules to allow my insurance’s roadside assistance access to the area where we were. We finally got moving again, and my car died in the parking lot of a gas station where we had stopped (leaving the car running) for a potty break. Grace instance #4: a kind man offered to get jumper cables and return, and then he did. Grace instance #5: another kind man who had jumper cables with him loaned them to us. Grace instance #6: my friend’s car overheated while we were trying to jump mine with hers, and she just cooled it off, fixed it up, and hooked it right back up to mine. Grace instance #7: when we weren’t sure that we’d make it back, another friend offered to bring me back to pick up the car the next day if I had to leave it. I may have forgotten to mention that we were about an hour and a half away from where I live, at the time. I have free towing with my insurance, but it only applies within a 12 mile radius, so my car would have been towed to a station that was still an hour and a half from my place, had we not gotten it started. Grace instance #8: my friend and her boyfriend followed me all the way to my repair shop, which was out of their way, and then took me home afterward. Grace instance #9: the shop was closed when we got there. I had a dead car, no place to leave a key for the mechanic, and no way to get back to deliver it. There was still someone inside, and she graciously opened the door and let me leave the key and sign the paperwork.

Now we get to the part that my dad pointed out… All this happened on Saturday. That meant that I was without my car on Sunday, and until the mechanic could fix it on Monday. Without a car, getting to/from the church I attend is a huge ordeal, where I live. I stayed home. I sat and read my Bible, read some of the books that I’m currently studying, and then got started with some things over which I’ve procrastinated myself into a corner. I actually got a ridiculous volume of work done in my apartment on Sunday afternoon. When I talked to my dad, he said, “God knew what He was doing. If you’d had your car and had the ability to run around, run errands, go to church, and all that, would you have gotten all those things done?” The answer, when I thought about it, was no. I wouldn’t have completed some things that have weighed on my heavily, unless my car was gone and I was stuck. So the Grace of God figured out how to solve a half dozen or more of my problems by using car trouble. Furthermore, I’m getting ready to move about 900 miles away, and had my car broken down on the trip, or after I get to the new location (without a repair shop I know and trust), I could have been in really hot water. The protection that God provides is astounding sometimes, when you stop to think about it.

I don’t suppose that this post really has a point. Perhaps it’s more of an observation than anything, but if that’s the case, it’s a reminder to me that I should give out of the bounty of the blessings I’ve received. If the way we forgive is the way we’ll be forgiven, then it’s yet another measure of grace that the grace that’s extended to us will always abound exponentially over the grace we extend.

If you’re someone who has extended grace to me, I thank you. If you’re someone I’ve not treated graciously, I am truly sorry. My assignment is now to find some way to extend grace to those around me in some form or fashion, every day. May you be richly blessed with grace and graciousness.

Much love.

10 September 2008

Another quote

"You say that love is nonsense.... I tell you it is no such thing. For weeks and months it is a steady physical pain, an ache about the heart, never leaving one, by night or by day; a long strain on one's nerves like toothache or rheumatism, not intolerable at any one instant, but exhausting by its steady drain on the strength."

~Henry Brooks Adams~

22 August 2008

A thought.

"Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. . . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more."
~Erica Jong in How to Save Your Own Life (1977)~

21 August 2008

Introspection and Critique: Where is your Heart?

It has been said by wiser men than I that there are three paradigms by which an individual is viewed/judged: what he knows about himself that no one else knows, what he knows about himself that everyone else knows, and what everyone else knows about him that he doesn’t know. It was recently pointed out to me that what someone else sees in me as my “true colors” is a very contrary view to what I see in myself, and/or what has been conveyed to me that others see. That concerns me terribly, especially because this person’s opinion matters greatly to me. My daddy says that how anyone views you is exactly how you are, if only to that person. Thus, we must be acutely aware of the opinions of others, so that we may not become what they think we already are.

While I cannot speak to what others see in me that I don’t see in myself, I can speak to some of my intimate knowledge of myself. Perhaps contemplating what I know of myself could help me to see a way to salvage the good opinions of those I wish to know me well. Perhaps, I can un-become what they may think I am. Perhaps not, but it’s a start.

Here is my heart. Here is who I am. This is how I view myself.

I am the daughter of the two people I trust, respect, and love more than anyone else in the world. My parents have formed me, raised me, trained me. They and I are the same person, in some respects. I am a combination of the two of them. One need only know them well to know me. My father has a Type A personality, and my mother has a Type B personality. They are both dedicated, disciplined, well-read, educated individuals of sterling character. I aspire to be more like them as I grow. My dad’s drive and determination, commitment to action, and decisiveness are easily complemented by my mother’s gentleness of spirit, patience, kindness, ease of personality, and maternal nature. While I seek to grow the feminine side of me that longs to be seen as I see my mother, I am a combination of, what I see as, some of the very best of both my parents. I know their weaknesses, because their weaknesses are my own. But I know their strengths, because they have bestowed those on me with all the blessing that any parents could offer.

My parents raised me with godly discipline. They ingrained in me some very basic beliefs about family life, child-rearing, how life works in the real world, and how one operates within a functional family unit. My brother and I lived an idyllic childhood, and I am more and more convinced that I have been blessed so much more than I ever knew by my family and life, to this point, as I meet and interact with others. We always lived on acreage. We always had places to run and play and things to discover. We always had work to do, things to contribute, and a place within the family. We were well-educated at an early age, and we were taught the value of hard work, of self-discipline, and the respect of elders. (I hope and pray that I can instill some of this into my own children, when the day comes.)

I say all this of my childhood, because it provides the foundation on which to build an adulthood. Now, at this moment in my life, I value hard work, discipline, the opinions/input/respect of my elders, my faith (and the reasons behind it), my education (both in school and out), and the lessons I learned through doing chores through four seasons of the year, whether we felt like it or not, whether the weather cooperated or not, because it wasn’t up to me. Others depended on me. I couldn’t just not feed the chickens because I didn’t feel like getting up. I couldn’t forget to water the horses because I didn’t remember. Their lives hinged on my discipline, and when my meager, childly self-discipline wasn’t enough to get my mind on the task at hand and my fanny in gear, my parents’ discipline was. I was a part of a unit. We all had jobs, tasks, chores, responsibilities, and together, everything was accomplished.

As my father’s daughter, I prefer action to inactivity. We work hard. We play hard. We rest hard. We devote all of our energy to what we’re doing. Our unofficial family motto, spurred on by this drive of my dad’s, is “It’s not done until it’s overdone.” I can’t tell you how many family activities we’ve undertaken that were characterized by that motto. I can’t tell you succinctly about the houses that we’ve turned into amazing, beautiful homes, through hard work—team work, not because we had to, but because it’s simply amazing what you can do when you set your mind to something. It’s incredible what beauty, and conversely, what havoc, we can create just because we choose to.

By the same token, one of my dad’s favorite sayings is “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong.” Even if things don’t work out the way you’d like, even if it turns out to be a fizzle in the end, if it was worth doing in the first place, DO IT! You can’t allow yourself to be paralyzed into inaction, just because you can’t see how things will all turn out in the end. As my mentor likes to say, “You can’t steer a parked car.” You have to move.

I’ve never known boredom in my life. My parents didn’t believe in it when I was growing up, and I don’t believe in it now. Either give me something to do, or get out of my way and I’ll find something. (Napping is something to do, just to clarify. Haha) If you want to drive me absolutely bonkers, put me in a holding pattern with nothing to do. Put me in a hotel room or a plane or some other enclosed space, without a book, without paper, and break my concentration so that I can’t even sleep or think or anything, and I promise you, I WILL go completely, stark-raving mad. (Unless it’s a specific program –preferably entertaining and/or uplifting, television does not count, and television cuts my focus and makes it extremely difficult to do anything, up to and including sleep. Television is an irritant. I don’t own a television for that reason. If I’m not watching it, it needs to be out of my hearing and out of my line of sight so that I can do something else.)

Some of the darkest parts of me, the battles I fight within myself, are very closely linked to some of the things I consider my strengths. My action-mindedness breeds, if I’m not careful, irritation with others who aren’t as focused as I, or even others who are focused on different things. I must be vigilant about that, and since my life currently lends itself to an abundance of activity, I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t think about it. I need to. I need that to be on my radar so that I don’t inadvertently hurt others with something that seems obvious (and obviously right) to me.

My appreciation of discipline breeds an inability to cope with others who aren’t disciplined in the same way I am. I have to realize that few others, in my peer group, were raised the way I was, and I need to learn to judge less harshly the things that I see as short-comings in others. I may be seen (and probably am by some) as overly disciplined, to the point of being harsh, and that is not my wish. I have come to know great joy in discipline, because it makes life so much better, richer, and easier in so many ways. Not everyone has experienced that the way I have, and I can’t expect them to know my perspective.

Living alone, I have become far too self-reliant. I have come to depend on solitude to recharge my batteries. (In psychology this is referred to as introversion—drawing strength from within instead of from without, needing solitude to recharge, no matter how much you love being sociable. Some people—extroverts—need social experiences to recharge.) I have gotten so used to the fact that I have no one else’s schedule to contend with, feelings to consider, or agenda to navigate that sometimes I don’t even see how selfish I’m being, until after the fact. Being single and living alone is a breeding ground for selfishness of thought, behavior, and attitude. I need to make a point of considering others. I need to fight that circumstance-borne illness, because it will kill my relationships if I don’t. I need to make time for solitude so that I can adjust my attitude and thought processes, however I can, and when I need to, and I need to make clear my reasons for seeking that solitude.

I prize communication. Sometimes I prize it too highly. Sometimes it’s ok to shut up. Sometimes it’s ok to let things go. I need to learn to relax more about communication. I need to be less vocal about some things and allow others to be how they choose to be. The danger here for me is that I hurt others with unkindness. I must strive to remember that unasked advice is criticism. My need to communicate is not more important than my need to be kind and loving. I must learn to balance the two.

I think this all boils down to the same thing, and it’s hard to correct this through introspection. I am a selfish person. I don’t always think of others. I think of my thoughts, because they’re the only thoughts I have, and I don’t take the time to try to see the perspectives of others. I judge people against a standard that is clear in my head, but one by which they may not judge themselves or me. What I see as “how life works” based on my experiences, education, training, etc., is not necessarily how others see life or experience it.

So perhaps it’s not so difficult to see why someone else may think my “true colors” are less than I believe my character to be. Perhaps how I have acted has spoken so loudly that others can’t hear a word I’m saying. Perhaps, because they can’t see my motives, my struggles, the desires of my heart I can’t expect them to view me through those things the way I do. No one, outside of my closest confidants, knows the battles I face within myself and how the true desire that screams inside me is to be loving and kind. Perhaps all they see is a terribly selfish, unkind, unloving individual who cannot be better than the worst that she fights within her.

Lord, have mercy on my broken, humbled spirit. Help me to undo the damage I have done in my relationships. Help me with these struggles. Draw my attention to the things in me that don’t bring honor and glory to You. Break me. Change me. Grow me. Protect me from the worst of myself. Prepare me for the things You have for my future. Make this the prayer of my heart and the focus of my spirit, through Your unending (THANK YOU) grace and mercy. In the all-powerful Name of your precious Son I pray, Amen.

Much love,

23 July 2008

Glimpses of His Love

As previously mentioned, I’m reading The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge, and he discusses the six phases of the masculine journey. (I encourage you to read this book and Wild at Heart, whether you’re a man or a woman, because it’s very enlightening. I also highly recommend Captivating, which is about the feminine journey.) They are Adored Son, Cowboy/Ranger, Warrior, Lover, King, and Sage. I am just beginning the chapters on the “Sage” part, and to this point, the most difficult part for me to read has been the “Lover” section. However, one thing in the Lover part of the book struck a chord in me, and that was when Eldredge was speaking of this communication between God and man. He spoke of the way God has shown His love over the years, and that resonated with me, because I understood. I have been there. I know what you mean. Shortly after I read that section, I had one of those little things happen that communicated to me that God longs to be intimately connected with my life. That experience led to the poem that I posted yesterday and began this post brewing in my head. Some things are really clear in my mind, but become much more complicated when I try to get them out and put them in words, so I hope I’m not confusing this issue too much in the telling…

Someone once said that when you talk to God it’s called prayer, but when God talks to you it’s called schizophrenia. :) I still think that’s hilarious. Have you ever spent time thinking about the ways in which God carries on conversations with His people? Chances are, if you’ve spent any time in prayer, ever in your life, you’ve at least considered the reverse. Perhaps you haven’t spent much time thinking about it. Perhaps you’re one of those people who think that it just doesn’t happen. Perhaps you’re not even sure that God exists. On the other hand, maybe, like me, you’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about it and have begun to enjoy a more regular intercourse with your Creator because of your careful consideration.

The two typical interactions that people automatically assume you’re talking about when you refer to the voice of God in your life are the Bible, and other people. It’s true. Those are great sources of interaction with God. I firmly believe that the Bible is our primary source for understanding the Mind and Heart of God, because it is His love story that He put in writing for our benefit. I believe, like many before me, that the Bible is the divine Word of God, that it is a living Word, and not a dead writing. I believe, as the Bible says of itself, that it is “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” In addition to Scripture, I believe that God uses people to speak to one another to convey His thoughts. In my life, He has used many people, even some unlikely sources.

This thought always reminds me of the little girl who was afraid of the dark. She called for her daddy, and he came into the room. She told him of her fear, and he said, “Don’t you remember that you learned that Jesus is with you all the time? You don’t ever have to be afraid of anything, because Jesus is there to take care of you.” She replied, “I know that, Daddy, but I just wanted someone with skin.” In our frailty as humans, we sometimes need someone “with skin,” and God faithfully provides that. He places people in our lives to help us through things, and for that we are grateful. On the reverse of that is the fact that sometimes you and I become the someone with skin to help others through. Sometimes we know it, and sometimes we don’t, but it’s a blessing to be that someone, either way. But I digress…

There are many other ways that God shows us that He is present, that He cares, and that He is interested in even the most mundane details of our daily lives. Sometimes He speaks directly to our spirit, using words that are almost audible in our heads. Sometimes He conveys an emotion or alleviates a negative emotion. There have been moments in my life that I could very clearly, in my mind, hear God’s voice speaking to me. Those things have not always been life-changing words, in fact, most of them were just moments shared between two close friends, but some of them have been very eye-opening. The first time that I felt God joking with me startled me and delighted me. But when I thought about it, I thought that if we’re created in His image and we joke with each other, why wouldn’t He joke with us, too? There was a time, a little over a year ago, that I had found a song that I loved, and I was listening to it one morning while getting ready to go somewhere, and I heard Him speak to me, in echo to the words of the song. That song has, ever since, been my love song with my Lover, my Lord: OUR song. Every time I hear it, I smile, and it renews my commitment to Him.

It’s interesting to note that trying to explain to someone else these moments is nearly impossible, even to someone else who understands. There’s such a POWER in the voice of God that it’s impossible to convey, so the re-telling of the experience loses something big. I’ve learned that those moments are generally to be shared only between the two of us, and in the sharing of those moments alone with Him, a precious intimacy is developed.

For those of you who know something of my spiritual journey, you know that it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve begun to grow by leaps and bounds. I had the foundation, being raised in a Christian home and being “saved” since the age of 4, but the personal relationship side of Christianity was, for me, a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I wasn’t even near the theme park, and sometimes I was at the height of the highest hill in the throes of the ride. I just couldn’t seem to get a handle on the supposed intimacy that God offered. He’s so big, and I’m so small. Why would He care about the little things in my day, when He has so much else to do? (This is why I intensely dislike the song “God Must Be Busy” btw. I understand it, but I detest the theology of it.) In thinking that He wouldn’t care about the little things, I effectively cut Him out of those parts of my life. When you consider the fact that the majority of our lives revolve around the little things, that cuts God out of the biggest part of who we are. I didn’t, at that time, see how those “minor” exclusions broke His heart. He wanted to be a part of those things, and I just didn’t want to “bother” Him by sharing them. It makes me sad to think about that.

One of the best things about God is that even when we hurt and reject Him, He keeps pursuing us. He keeps blessing us. As David put it in Psalms, “He knows my frame. He remembers that I am dust.” He doesn’t let it get Him bent out of shape. He doesn’t say, “Well, if she’s going to exclude me, I’m just going to forget it! Let’s see if she can make it through the day without me being there to fix things for her. Hmph!” He just continues to woo. He loves us, demonstratively, overwhelmingly, each day, even when we fail to notice. It’s really incredible.

You know, when I thought of the gifts of God, as I was growing up, I would think of the really obvious things: life, health, salvation, prosperity, etc. I didn’t think of actual gifts. My parents gave me the gift of life, too, but when I think of gifts they give me, I think of the littler things: a book, a memento, a card in the mail. It took a long time, but I started realizing that God gives little gifts, too. He gives us evidence of His love in tangible form, much the way a suitor would give his beloved when he’s wooing her. This is where we get the imagery of Jesus as the Lover of our souls. All aspects of human experience directly relate to aspects of divine experience. Our relationships among ourselves mirror the relationship we have with God, and He did that intentionally.

I want to give you an example, because this was the event that got me thinking about this post in the first place. I attended a business conference over the weekend, and Saturday morning I wound up parking a significant (in 4” heels, 8-10 blocks is much more significant) distance from the convention center and walking. It was the first spot I could find, and I was in a rush because I was running late. Little did I know that the distance was orchestrated by God. With hands full of the things that I “needed” to get through the daytime sessions and into the afternoon break, I was trotting down the sidewalk (yes, trotting) toward the conference, and something caught my eye. It was a flower, or rather a little batch of flowers off some bush like a lilac. I saw it, pristine, beautiful, recently cut, unbruised, untrampled on the sidewalk. I looked around for the bush, and I didn’t see it. I thought, “Oh, that’s nice, God, thank You,” and I kept walking. I felt a little twinge of guilt for not stopping to pick it up, but I was running late, hands full. I didn’t have anywhere to put it. I kept walking. “You could put it in your hair.” True. I could, but I’m a block away from it by now, and I’m still late and I’m still carrying stuff. “Alright.”

I thought about that flower off and on for the rest of the morning/early afternoon. Before the evening session, I decided that I needed to take some of my stuff back to the car so I wouldn’t have to deal with carrying so much after the late night session ended, so I hauled my proverbial cookies back to the car. I didn’t see the flower, but about a half-block down from where I remembered it being, I saw the bush it had come from and thought, “How could I have missed that bush? It’s so beautiful and has flowers all over it.” The answer was, “I meant for you to see the flower I wanted to give you, not the bush it came from. If you’d seen the bush, the flower wouldn’t have been as remarkable.” I took my things to the car, dropped them off, reorganized and started back, at a slower pace. I was looking for my flower now. It was still lying there, a little wilted from the heat of the day, but unbroken and untrampled. I thought, “Oh, it’s wilted. That’s too bad.” I got about 10 steps past it when I thought, “I’m an idiot. I’m not walking by that AGAIN.” And I stopped, turned around, and went back and got it.

Now, had someone been with me, they would have thought I was crazy. I turned around and went back and picked up a wilted flower. I carried it in my hand back into the hotel, into the restroom where I changed my clothes, and then placed it in my hair where it had belonged all day. No one said anything. It would have been beautiful in my hair when I arrived, because it just matched my dress, and it was fresh then, but I had, as a friend of mine says, “delayed intelligence.”

The rest of the walk, after I picked it up, I realized what it meant. God gave me flowers. He gave me a little bouquet, for no other reason than that He loved me and wanted me to be happy. He knows that the question of my heart and the journey of my life is the quest to be beautiful. He blesses me with little bits of beauty that He leaves for me alone to see because He knows I’m searching for beauty in my heart. He gives me beauty that complements my own beauty (matching my dress, even) as an affirmation and in answer to my question, “Am I beautiful, God?” “Yes, my Love. You are beautiful. You are more beautiful to me than anything. I love you. I delight in your beauty, and because you delight in the beauty in which I surround you, here is a token of my love. Wear it in your hair as a gift from your Lover.”

My primary love language is gifts. God was speaking my language, physically, so that I could hear, see, smell, touch, and experience His love. I love flowers. I’ve only received flowers from a handful of people over the years, and they mean the world to me. I told my daddy that if I ever got married that it would be his job to make sure that my husband knows how I love to receive flowers. He said, “When you get married, your husband should know that without having to have me tell him.” Well, God’s my Lover, and He knows my heart so well that He gives exactly the gift He knows will delight me. And, not being a gracious lover in return, or perhaps more accurately, not always being in the frame of mind of being the Beloved, I noticed, but didn’t really notice. It took Him several tries for me to acknowledge His gift, and being as boneheaded as I am, it took me a bit, but I got the message.

God speaks to us. He gives us glimpses of His love. He showers us with gifts, even tangible ones, and we are so wrapped up in our tiny, little lives that we miss them, but He keeps trying. He woos. He calls. He loves. He leaves it up to us to open our eyes, to be receptive to His love, and to share the amazing lives that He longs to give us. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to work at keeping my eyes open, at being available when my Lover calls me to come out and play, at hearing His voice. May you see Him in your life. He’s there, just pay attention, and you’ll see Him.

Much love.

P.S. Yes, the picture above is of the actual flower from God. And, yes, I still have it. :)

22 July 2008

A poem

In the not too distant past I have read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I am now reading The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge. I intend to read most of his/their books. My loyal readers know that I have been doing a self-directed study of femininity and masculinity for a couple of years now. These books are a part of that.

The poem below was inspired by these works. Captivating maintains that the central question of a woman's heart is "Am I beautiful?" The idea is that while the man is the rough, warrior side of the image of God, that the woman is the beauty side of God. We are meant to engage others in God through our beauty. Since I know how difficult this particular issue is in my own heart and mind, I tend to believe that the beauty premise is true. While the natural inclination will be for the reader to assume that this poem is written about a man, the fact of the matter is, it's written about my relationship with God. There are things in my other relationships that point me back to Him and to the way He sees me, and it is true that I am more capable of seeing His hand at work in my life, when my other relationships are working properly. Here it is:

The Warrior and the Beauty

In dreams the Warrior came to me.
He’d whisper in my ear;
His strength was big, his heart was strong,
His power drew me near.

I wondered who I was to him
And why he ever came,
For I was nothing special then
No one to take a name.

But in my mind, my Warrior stood
So handsome sleek and strong,
And in my heart, he softly wooed
And brought to me a song.

The Beauty that I longed to be
He recognized before.
He loved in me the things I sought,
Though having them in store.

And as I learned my Warrior’s love
The Beauty in me grew
Until I learned that it was I,
And it was then I knew

That what my Warrior saw in me
Had been there all along,
And what his strength inspired in me
Was my own Beauty’s song.

So now the Warrior, with his queen,
The Beauty, measures free
The love they share; for from now on,
His Beauty will be me.

Great Is His Faithfulness

(This post was written on 7/18/2008. I didn't get a chance to post it until now, though. Please forgive my untimeliness.)

His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.. This blogpost has been a long time in coming. There were dozens of posts that I didn’t write, for various reasons, and this one will probably contain a slight smattering of them all. I didn’t write them out of fear. It sounds odd, and it’s unreasonable, but fear is a funny thing. Fear comes to us in many forms, and it catches us at odd moments. Sometimes it’s obvious, and others it masquerades under the guise of more “logical” emotions. The fear of which I speak for this post is a relational fear.

I have a healthy fear of God. That fear of God bleeds over into a healthy fear of my parents. I don’t mean fear as in “I’m afraid of my parents” so much as “I’m afraid of hurting or disappointing my parents.”

Let me tell you a little about my parents. My parents are two of my best friends. They are my trusted advisors. They are the voices, arms, and bodies of God in my life. They are my heroes, my mentors, my examples. Their opinion(s) means more to me than any other. It’s only been in the last few years that I have developed to the point that I feel that they can count ME as a friend, too, but that friendship that I share with them is rich with the many facets of a well-cut gem. I am their daughter, true, but I am also their friend, their companion, their spiritual sister.

In my younger years, I regrettably developed the habit of not communicating with them about some important things. Under the guise of “what they don’t know won’t hurt them,” I excluded them from portions of my life. I didn’t share the things I should, and I reaped a large harvest of heartache for my, well, deceit. Hurts that could have been prevented weren’t. Things that Satan meant to destroy me almost did. The lies in my head were bigger than my faith in my parents, and I’m truly ashamed of that. I bought into the lie that they couldn’t possibly understand, that the hassle wasn’t worth the trouble, that they’d be disappointed in me, that they might reject me—whatever lie was most convenient for whichever occasion.

Since moving away from my home state, I have learned to be more frank with them. I have learned to discuss things with them, to rely on their wisdom and input into my life, to understand their perspective more, to include them in my life. However, there are still times when I struggle with being forthcoming, because it was such a way of life for so long—hiding things. I would justify it in my head with whatever reasoning I needed to, such as “they don’t need to know,” “they wouldn’t care,” “it’s too much hassle,” or the ever-popular, “I’m an adult, and I get to decide what I do with my life, and I don’t have to explain that to anyone. I don’t live under their roof anymore; I pay my own bills…”

Cut to 2008. I’ve had an interesting month or so. Since Monday, 16 June, I have been in some rather interesting conversations with “Bonehead” as my friend calls him—the somewhat-subject of an earlier blogpost about my relational life. (I still maintain that the post was about me, but he did feature predominantly in it, so I won’t argue semantics.) In the course of those conversations, and the developing friendship that I share with him, I have had many ideas that I longed to put on paper, to post here. I didn’t do it. I didn’t share, because I knew that my parents were set against him, and it was just too much to poke the hornet’s nest, when there wasn’t really anything going on. Well, over the last couple of weeks, there has been a lot of development on that scene, some of which I will share here, and I have come to the point where I faced my fears and actually had a couple of conversations with my parents.

At this point, I’m not sure where to really begin, but I’ll give you a smattering of the developments and allow you to draw your own conclusions. I’m going to refer to him as Beast, here, because I like it better than Bonehead, and it’s a little more flattering, if only in my head. haha

Conversations began over a misunderstanding (intentionally fostered by an interested third party), but quickly evolved into a serious discussion (hereafter referred to as The Conversation). Beast had heard a conversation between his uncle and me (herafter, Uncle Beast or UB) on his mom’s (Mama Beast or MB) radio phone. He had listened intently to most of the conversation, and I was surprised at the degree of attention he paid. UB and I were discussing some fairly weighty topics, such as the state of the family in America, personal responsibility, the roles of masculinity and femininity in our society, and the devolution of sin from the time of the Fall of man. Beast said that during that conversation, he had developed a greater realization of my spiritual state. He said that the contrast between where I am, spiritually, and where he was, spiritually, was huge, and that he knew, for the first time, how far he’d gone the wrong direction. He realized that his condition was so bad that he didn’t even know where to start to get back on the right track. He asked for my help in changing the course of his life. That’s where it began.

As some of you know, he had broken my trust when we were together before. Unfortunately, trust broken is not easily mended. I am loyal to a fault. I care for people more than I should, most of the time. But, when I’m hurt, it takes time and faithful effort to move past that. I’ve spent too much time making excuses for people who hurt me, and I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t do that anymore. I can’t. This desire for my help put me in an awkward position. Not only had I been hurt, but my parents had been hurt on my behalf. They were dead-set against him. I called my mom to tell her about the conversation, and she told my dad, who called me. While not unpleasant, it wasn’t pleasant, either. He doesn’t want to see his little girl get hurt. I can understand that.

When I began developing this friendship, again, it was slow going. I couldn’t see this growing to be more, and in fact, I saw an end in sight and coming quickly. Why bother my parents? Why needlessly concern them, if nothing is going to come of it? Why stir up the hornets?


Shortly after this conversation began, Beast and his brother, the honorable Mississippi Pimp/MP (long story—don’t ask) were scheduled to move to Florida. Florida isn’t nearby. My thought was that they’d move, and that’d be it. Well, he asked me to come visit him in Florida when they went, so we made the plans, and I got tickets to fly to FL the weekend after they moved. Ok, so maybe it wouldn’t end when they left. I helped them pack, played babysitter quite a bit, shared a piece of their lives, got closer to them, and planned for a brief Florida vacation.

When I went, I thought that I’d get down there, there’d be a lot going on, we wouldn’t get much time to talk, and then we’d have some argument, and I’d go home and never hear from him again. That didn’t happen.

I got home and thought, “Crap.” Yes, it’s good to have a burgeoning relationship. Yes, it’s exciting to know that there’s a mutual understanding and caring. Yes, it’s terrifying to think of telling your parents that you’re seeing the one guy they really wish would drop off the face of the planet, especially when they don’t know that you’ve just spent the weekend in his home state in his mother's home.. Crap.

For some weeks in advance of this, and even prior to The Conversation, talk had been happening among his family that I would be joining them on their family vacation, this year. It sounded like a lot of fun, and something I would LOVE to do, but… well, but. But, when the topic originally arose, Beast was essentially not speaking to me, but he wasn’t planning to go on the trip, either. As our friendship emerged, and as the potential for romance was rekindled, it became an ongoing topic of conversation. He decided to go. The family had adopted me as one of their own, and they wanted me to be part of this event in their lives. “I’d really like to go, but I just don’t know if I can swing it.”

Somewhere, sometime, behind my back, the decision was made. Satin is going on the family vacation. The family is buying her tickets. It’s a done deal. No arguing. Yesterday, that happened. The tickets were bought, the arrangements were made. Crap. Now I HAVE to tell my parents. Crap, crap, crap.

So, I made the call. Mom was NOT thrilled. She’s the single most relaxed, easy-going, gentle-natured individual I know. She was NOT happy. She passed the phone to Daddy. A conversation was had. I had broken Daddy’s heart. He was deeply concerned. There were some things, to his way of thinking, fundamentally wrong with the concept of my having a relationship with this man. How does a concerned dad protect his daughter from heartache and not inadvertently push her away instead?

After that phone call, I received calls from MB, Beast, and UB. I spent a lot of time on the phone. Much was said. In the end, it was time to pray. I sent an email to my 4 best female friends asking their intercession on behalf of the matter. When I awoke I had responses already from three of them. Later, I found out that UB had spent most of the night saturating all of those involved in prayer, specifically my dad.

Partway through the day, I got a call from my dad, and we visited more, coming to a greater understanding of each other. He had spent the night praying and studying the Bible to search out truth, where it relates to the fundamental issues with my relationship, and in his studies, he came to a different understanding of the grace of God than he had possessed to that point. We became closer through an issue that threatened to tear us apart. THAT is why this post is entitled “Great is His faithfulness.” Through the faithfulness of God, I was brought forth from a crippling fear. Through the faithfulness of God, my dad was brought to a deeper understanding of scriptural truth. Through the faithfulness of God, my relationship with my dad was strengthened. Through the faithfulness of God, a very important friendship was spared and the potential for a future was preserved.

Now, I don’t honestly know if Beast and I have a chance at making this a forever thing. We both have much to learn and a long way to go. This is just the first step in a long journey, however, it is one of the most difficult steps I’ve envisioned needing to take. These two men in my life haven’t yet met, but I’m not as worried about them killing each other on sight, now. Perhaps we stand a chance. With each step, the “hope and a future” that God speaks of in Jeremiah is more in evidence. Great, GREAT is HIS faithfulness, in my life. His mercies are truly new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

Much love.

16 May 2008

What, now?

I got a call from my mom, yesterday, and my dad was in the background talking, so she passed the phone on to him.

"Hey, Baybee. I invented a new website."

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah, it's called RumpBook. It's where people can just log in and kiss it if they like. I even have a list of preferred users-- you know, people who have been pre-approved as users because I really think they should make use of it."

...so, I told him he could at least have his own blog post about it. haha
Please feel free to comment on this post until www.rumpbook.com is up and running.
Much love.

14 May 2008

Bring on the Boneheads

I was raised by parents who thought it was very important to be educated. The foundation of education, from their perspective, was reading. My brother and I were read to before and after birth, and the books we were read were adult literature, most of the time, not children’s story books. We were both taught to read for ourselves before we started school. I was reading “real” books by the age of 4. We were raised with good literature, including both fiction and non-fiction. Commonplace in our home were Sherlock Holmes novels, Mark Twain’s writings, C.S. Lewis’ books (Chronicles of Narnia, and his apologetics), Jane Austen’s works, William Shakespeare’s brilliance, and too many others to recall or name here. Heavily dominating the literary training of our youth was the Bible. This is where I get my vast love of reading, literature, writing, and speaking. I love, with all that is in me, words.

Sometimes, I forget that other people don’t come from extraordinarily literate families like mine. Sometimes, it doesn’t occur to me that the language I embrace and use so imaginatively is gibberish to those with less extensive vocabularies. Frankly, it wasn’t until adulthood that this thought even occurred to me at all. A friend of mine asked me to teach her English as a second language. Important point—English is the only language said lady has ever spoken/read/learned. She would pick a word from our conversations, ask me to define it, then find somewhere to use it within 24 hours. She ASKED me to correct her grammar! Dream come true. Haha. That moment defined a tiny thought in my brain. That thought triggered a greater realization. Not everyone thinks exactly the way I do. Amazing.

Something incredible about language is what it does inside our brains. Words are tools by which we learn to embrace and use our world. Teaching someone words is a portion of teaching someone thoughts. When you have words at your disposal, you have more ingredients for thought. Thought leads to ideas. Ideas lead to action. Action leads to experience. Experience equals education. I will, at this time, refrain from stepping onto my soapbox regarding education, as that is quite another topic and not the one I wish to discuss for the time being. Suffice it to say, readers are thinkers.

When you are raised to read and reason, you learn to think things through before you act on them. Major life decisions require thoughtful planning. Believe me, I have a truly spontaneous nature, but that doesn’t keep me from refusing to act on foolish thoughts… well, most of the time, anyway. One of the major decisions in life, from my perspective, is the person to whom you will be bound for eternity—well, at least ‘til death do you part. As a little girl, I watched my mother and learned how to be a woman. I was raised to believe that the highest calling any woman can have is to be a homemaker, a wife, a mother. Having pursued careers, owned businesses, gotten ejumacated, run wild, and eventually started to grow up, I have come full circle—to the point that I believe little else with such fervency. I truly desire to be called to that noblest profession. There is one teensy tinesy little caveat with that. It’s awfully hard to be a homemaker/wife/mother when you’re single.

Beyond that, (eventually I will get to the subject of this post, I promise) a favorite topic, whether in thought or conversation, of girls the world over is boys. We (well, at least the straight ones of us) think of them a lot. Those of us (guilty, as charged) who are, what we called in elementary school, “boy-crazy” think of them more than a lot—read constantly. Those who are both boy-crazy and raised to believe that homemaker is the highest calling are pooched from the get-go, because we put a lot of thought into what Prince Charming is going to be like. When you couple that with a literary bent and the thought-processes borne of studying thoughts of great thinkers, you basically have a mess. This calls to mind that part of a song from Music Man when Marion the Librarian’s mother is trying to convince her to give Professor Hill a chance—“I know all about your standards, and if you don’t mind my saying so, there’s not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend of Paul Bunyan, St. Pat, and Noah Webster you’ve concocted for yourself out of your Irish imagination, your Iowa stubbornness, and your library full of books!” To put it simply, we think ourselves out of the possibility of a relationship with anything that even vaguely resembles a human.

So, we make lists. Lists of things he’ll like. Lists of things he won’t like. Lists of things he’ll do. Lists of things he won’t do. Lists of things he’ll be, won’t be, will think, won’t think, will have, won’t have, will look like, won’t look like, etc. etc. etc. Lists of lists and lists of places you left the lists of lists because you can’t keep up with them all. And then, every once in awhile, you take all the lists and put them in a pile and set them on fire and watch them burn, until your smoke alarm goes off and the Alexandria Fire Department get in their shiny trucks and come over to rescue you from your burning apartment. And you think, “Oh, as soon as they let me back in, I need to add “Firefighter” to list 32—no, wait, I burned that one, too.”

As a single, fairly level-headed adult who desires to remain the latter but not the former, for most of the rest of her life, I keep my eyes open. I observe people. I don’t often act on my observations, anymore, due to a pesky little thing called self-preservation, but from time to time, I get into “dating” mode. Usually short-lived, “dating” mode for me is a flurry of first dates, and rarely second ones. Occasionally, someone strikes my fancy or hits enough points on my endless lists that I’ll allow myself to consider a relationship. Even less often, I’ll actually try out that relationship. To put this in perspective, in my post-college life (all seven years of it), there have been three guys who I’ve considered to be my boyfriend, three more who considered themselves to be my boyfriend, and two more that I thought about potentially kindling a romance. None of these have lasted longer than a month. (Someday I’ll write a “war” stories blog post and fill you in on all that.)

The reason most guys don’t make it past a first date is that I’m not interested in CHANGING guys. I have no desire to push, prod, or nag them into being someone else (or becoming a Man). I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me, either. I don’t want to saddle myself with someone who doesn’t live up to my standards, someone who drives me nuts with his need to discuss politics, someone who fancies himself an intellectual and is therefore incapable of condescending to the level of someone who is, frankly, more intelligent, better-read, and way out of his league (yeah, that’s me), someone to whom I’m not physically attracted, someone who, after one date, feels it’s appropriate to call me at 3 in the morning on a Tuesday for reasons unknown then get bent out of shape when I’m not particularly thrilled that he awakened me to chat about nothing specific, someone who is unstable, someone with anger issues, someone who has no respect for my time and even less respect for my person, or any of the other, somehow unsatisfactory “someones” who troll the world. (Here, I shall refrain from stepping onto my “State of the Dating World Address” soap box.)

The main problem with this whole thing is—They’re. All. Alike. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. You try and you try to pick the one who seems the least nuts, who meets, in some way, a portion of your Non-Negotiables, who might, perchance, not make your family want to kill him on sight, who is vaguely attractive, who has a “good” job (whatever that is), who has an “education” (whatever the heck that means), etc. etc. etc., and they’re all alike. Frankly, they’re all completely wrong. Well, for me, anyway. They’re all self-aggrandizing, pompous, obnoxious, yuppies who need a swift kick in the pants administered by a real man. Bar-none. And some of them are downright rude, or they’re just plain jerks. They’re a waste of my time and energy, and nothing, absolutely nothing gives me a headache like that particular variety of a waste of my time and energy.

So I met this guy. He drives me crazy. He’s nothing like anyone I’ve ever dated. My favorite term for him is “bonehead.” Yup, he’s a bonehead. He is almost as much of a bonehead as I am. OK, maybe he’s more of one. He scores so low on my list-compliance test that I almost didn’t acknowledge that he was on my radar at all. The problem is that he’s forced me to re-think the lists themselves. He is completely, totally, and in all other ways, utterly inappropriate for me. He flat-out doesn’t qualify for an AUDITION for the role of “Man in My Life,” much less a call-back. Like I said, he’s a bonehead. But. Yeah, you knew it was coming. BUT. But, he fascinates me. He intrigues me. He attracts me. He makes my brain scream, my heart cry, and my body zing. I get all confused and enthralled when I think about the possibilities. Then I get depressed because there is just no way. None. And then he dumps me. Out of the blue. One day, we’re happy. The next day, he’s blank, and we’re done. I’m relieved. Really. Truly. On the level of my heart that says, “Whew that was a close call, and he could have messed you up BAD…” (yes, that level of my heart does not always acknowledge my internal grammar checks) I am relieved. Now I don’t have to worry about him being around my family and the potential offense he can spark. And then, the little girl in me—the one who refuses to succumb to anything so boring as “appropriate”—cries and says, “But now I don’t have to worry about him being around my family…”

You see, in all my list-making, all my life, I failed to consider some things. I failed to consider the fact that a girl who is so boneheaded and heartstrong as I needs a strong man in her world. I failed to consider that the woman in me needs a man that can meet my velvet with a boulder of his personality. I failed to consider that a man entirely unlike my father will never earn my respect and will never be worthy of my love and devotion—no matter how I long to give it. I failed to remember that said Daddy is also a bonehead. I failed to consider that the fact of an attraction between the soft woman I strive to be and the hard man that I need would cripple all of the reasoning that I bring with me. I failed to consider that the man I need, the man that the woman I’m becoming needs, might just not be predictable. He might not fit into my neat little packages. He may not look the way I expect him to. He may affront me with the force of his being and make me crazy. He may be a cave man, a beast, a bonehead—and when you put “my” in front of those words, they become terms of endearment, loving niceties. He may be too many things I hadn’t thought of and too few of the things I had thought of for me to even consider. I failed to consider reality. I read too many books.

OK, so that’s it. No more of him. He’s not mine, nor was he, except in my head, or when we were alone and he’d whisper those honey-soaked words that professed my possession of him. My boyfriend. My Man. My Beast. My Caveman. My Bonehead. OK. It didn’t last long enough for me to be too hurt. But two little girls are in the back of my head, like children on a cross-country family vacation. One is the prim and proper “big” sister who insists on dressing up in mommy’s shoes and wearing her pearls everywhere she goes. The other is the free-spirit who prefers her scuffed up jeans and her bicycle (or pony, in my case) and a smudge of dirt on her cheek to the perfume and powder of her polar-opposite twin. They sit back there, softly arguing. Not so much that Mom and Dad (my conscious thoughts) are forced from their conversation in the front seat to intervene and bring order, but just loudly enough that when there’s a lull, the parents are aware of the subject at hand. Instead of arguing over a toy or picking on each other out of exhaustion or crankiness, the twins in the backseat of my mind are arguing over life, the future, the potential for happiness, the dreams I hold dearest, and the realism of the necessity of lists.

“You can’t consider someone like that. He swears too much to even introduce to the family. He has tattoos for Pete’s sake, and wants more. He’s uncouth and undeveloped. He hasn’t yet learned some of the most important lessons in life, even though he’s 5 years your senior!”

“Yes, I know all that.” The little foot would stomp the floor-board impatiently if it could reach, but being short, the little girl actually kicks the back of the driver’s seat instead. “But the only people I’ve ever met who are ‘appropriate’ for me are not attractive. I have no respect for them. They don’t meet me on my level or challenge me like that. Those people just bore me, give me a headache, and annoy me. He's a MAN. He makes the girl in me wake up and take notice!”

“But you can’t base a future on how someone makes you FEEL. Feelings are fickle.” She’s absentmindedly twirling the string of pearls through her fingers. “Feelings tell you nothing, but that you’re alive—“

“Exactly! I’m ALIVE!”

“—But you can’t base a future on a vital sign!”

“But if I don’t have vital signs, how can I have a future?”

And Satin Perfume & Pearls pauses, always careful to choose her words with consideration. Satin Ponies & Puddles looks very proud of herself for a heartbeat, then more unsure as the two consider. And the argument continues, quietly, in the back of my mind.

So, my paradigm has shifted. I’ve always known that some things work and some don’t. I’ve always known that there are things I want in my life and things I don’t. The man in my world will need to be certain things and need to not be others. It’s just that I’m not as sure of all those things as I was before. The problem with being sure is dealing with the sharp contrast between surety and reality. A few of my Non-Negotiables remain. A few are less “Non” and more “Negotiable”, and a few things that I hadn’t considered have become mainstays of the Non-Negotiable master list. Thanks to the man who was briefly My Beast, My Strong Man, My Bonehead. Yes, Bonehead. That is now a Non-Negotiable.

It took someone who does not think the way I think, who doesn’t have the “education” that I have, who doesn’t meet my qualifications, who doesn’t fit. It took someone who can’t possibly be my one-and-only to teach me that my scripted suitors don’t fit, that my lists don’t cover all the bases, that the intangibles create the romance, and that I need to rethink this whole idea of who will be a part of my future. He’ll never read these words, I’m sure, but I thank him, with all my heart. And I thank my girlfriend who opened the door with her request for English lessons, because if I hadn’t realized that mine was not the only perspective, I would have never been open to discovering this whole other side of the man I will someday love and marry. And now, bring on the Boneheads. :D

Much love.

13 May 2008

What kind of poison is your personality?

What kind of poison is your personality?


Nothing drives a man wild like a little contact dermatitis! You don't really want to kill anyone, you just want to make them wish they'd died. Found in the Poison Ivy plant , when you touch someone, the itch can last forever.

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16 April 2008

Follow-up on KABOOM

I have been granted permission to link to LT G's blog. You'll see the link in the right-hand column on this page, from now until eternity. :D

Much love.

Prayers for our Troops

Some of you may know this; others may not. I have been a member of a particular military website since September 2003, and within this site, there are various clubs and groups that you can join. I am a member of the Prayer and Religious Discussion group, which was started to remind the members of trackpads.com to pray for the troops, and to do so publicly. Many of the members of this site are military veterans, current military, and military families, so it's not a stretch to think that the troops are nearly always on their minds. Having something on your mind doesn't mean that you are keeping it in prayer, however, and that is the primary purpose of this group. There is a thread on our sub-forum that is exclusively for prayers for the troops. I do my best to post there regularly, but anyone who isn't a member of that group on that website doesn't have access to the thread. Since I don't have permission to use the prayers of others, I am re-posting some of the prayers I have placed on that thread, here. Please feel free to use them or elements of them or inspiration from them as a guide for your own prayers on behalf of the warriors that ensure that we have the option to live as we choose.

Pray for, and support, our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and coasties.

Much love.

Dear Father,

Thank You for all the blessings that You give us. We know that every good and perfect comes from You alone. Thank you for the men and women who protect us. Please bless them, protect them, guide them, cheer them, and heal them. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Make us ever mindful of them.

In Your Holy Son's Name we pray,

Our Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for the protection that You've given us over the weekend. Thank You for acting on our behalf. Thank You for Your loving care, even when we don't deserve it. Please act on the behalf of our men and women who stand in the way of danger to protect us. Please guide them. Please shield them from spiritual attacks, as well as physical and mental. Please strengthen and hearten them, today. Please place Your hands on them and increase them in the way that only You can.

Forgive us for our impurities, in motive, word, thought, and deed. Please heal us and heal our land. Please help us to not repeat the mistakes of history. Draw us closer to you, as individuals and as a people. Return us to You. Put out Your call on our lives and hearts, and send a vibration through our souls. Help us to return to You. Weaken us, that Your strength may be made manifest in our weakness. Decrease us, that You may increase. Make us nothing, that You may be seen as our Everything, our All. Take from us our most precious possessions so that we may be loosed from our dependence on anything or anyone but You. Save us, Lord. That's all we need. Put the desire in our hearts, as a people, to have nothing but You. Lead us to You, because we can't make it on our own.

Thank You for Your attention to us. Thank You for Your patience. Thank You for not reacting to our unbelief and unfaithfulness the way a human would. Thank You for remembering that we are dust.

It's in the Name of Your holy Son we pray all these things.

Our Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for the willingness with which our men and women in (and out of) uniform sacrifice themselves. Thank You for their decisions that have brought them to this place of service. Help them to know that their nation supports, loves, and admires them. Help them to draw strength from the value we place on them. Thank You for them and their place in our hearts and minds. Please protect and keep them this day.

We ask that Your Hand of grace and mercy be put on those who have suffered or are suffering from battlefield and combat-related injuries. Please step into their lives and hearts and heal them. You alone can heal the hurts that go deeper than flesh, bone, and blood.

Please touch our warriors who have been scarred mentally and psychiatrically. Please heal these mental wounds that so affect the way in which they live and the lives they choose. Protect their families, friends, and loved ones from the wounds that overflow into others' lives.

Please step into the lives of the men and women who choose to rebel against You, knowingly or unwittingly. Please go after them and do not let them rest until they desire you with every breath in their bodies. Pursue them and let them know that they are being hunted by a Holy God, and return them to You.

We ask your protection over our protectors. Please place them in the forefronts of our minds and cause us to always be in prayer and supplication on their behalf. Bless and encourage them and give us opportunities to support and love them.

Thank You for Your unending grace that envelops us through it all.

In the name of Your precious Son, our Savior, we pray.

Dear Father,

Please act today in the lives of our troops. Move their hearts and minds ever closer to you. Protect them from those who would do them evil. Shield their minds and thoughts from unhealthy influences. Give them strength of spirit and the ability and drive to move forward. Give them peace in their hearts, and let them know how very much they are loved.

Keep them in our thoughts and prayers in each moment and bless them.

In Your Holy Name we pray.

Dear Father,

Thank You for the men and women who serve. Thank You for the blessing that they are to us. Thank You for their protection, devotion, and sacrifice. Thank You for their training and their willingness to put it to use on our behalf. Thank You for them. Please help us to be a blessing to them.

Lord, You know the needs of each one of these individuals who keep us safe and secure, and You alone know how to meet each need. At this moment, You know the needs that are pressing on my mind, and You know the soldiers and their families. You know their hearts, and You know their paths and their futures. For all three of these young men, I pray healing. For all three, I ask that You reconcile them to You. Please draw them inextricably closer to You each day. Pursue them with Your mercy and grace. Touch their lives and hearts and renew their minds. Remove the influences that keep them away from You and protect them from the attacks leveled at them. Only You can act on their behalves. Only You can guide them home. Only You can reach so deeply inside of them to heal their scars. Those around them have lived so much pain already. Please protect the ones that love them from destructive behavior patterns. Please heal their pain. Protect the children from the habits of their parents and extended families. Heal these homes. Reconcile them to You. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Sometimes it seems like there are no answers. Sometimes it seems like there's no way to right the wrongs. Sometimes it seems like even the best solutions are not enough. In these times, we ask Your guidance. We plead for Your grace. We NEED You to make the paths straight before us. We, Your people, ask on behalf of those we love, when they are too far gone to ask for themselves. Please honor our prayers and the spirit in which they are offered. Please make our motives pure. Please help us to see Your provision and Your hand at work. We know You are working, but we don't see from Your perspective. Sometimes we're just too small to see the big picture. Help us to trust You and allow You to make all things beautiful in Your time. Perfect Your work in us. Help us to not grow impatient when we don't see what we think we should. Help us, Lord, for we are weak. Be exalted in and through our weaknesses.

Lord, we want so badly to be a blessing to others. We want to be effective. We want to be Your ambassadors to the world, but sometimes it all seems to be so much more than what we can do. Please help us to do what You've called us to do and not get sidetracked by the enormity of need. Protect us from complacency and from being overwhelmed. Give us eyes so we may see and ears so we may hear. Guide us and give us Your Spirit and Will. You are the God of miracles. Magnify our efforts and our prayers to the point that they can meet the ever-growing needs around us. Help us to be worthy of Your name.

Please bless our warriors, today. Please protect them. Please meet their needs. Please guide them into Your will and make them walk in Your way.

We ask all these things, through Your mercy, in the name of your Holy Son.

Father, please hold the men and women in our Armed Forces and law enforcement in the palm of your hand. Please protect them, keep them, guide them, and touch them. Please draw them closer to you, with each task they are asked to perform. Draw them ever nearer to you, and bless their work for all that they sacrifice for others. Encourage them and remind them of the love we have for them. Thank you for them. Help us to remember them and pray for them with every breath.

In Jesus' Name,

15 April 2008

Unfettered Approval/Recommendation

For anyone who stumbles across my blog, intentionally or not:

I HIGHLY recommend that you read LT G's blog, Kaboom War Journal.

I am absolutely and totally addicted to it. That, and I have the song on it stuck in my head. I have requested his permission to put a link to him permanently on my page, and quite understandably, have not yet heard back from him. I have read every word he's posted on it, and am eagerly awaiting the next post. For those literary fans out there, you will be entranced, impressed, and befuddled by his brilliance.

If you don't care for a clever turn-of-phrase, literary genius, or the men who make this country great by their very existence, their battlefield savvy, and their love of job/comrade/country, you probably won't care too much for it, but I do, so there. How's that for a rebuttal?

While I don't entirely agree with his ideology, I find him fascinating in his thought processes and brilliant in his composition. Yup, I said brilliant. Twice.

Much love.

P.S. Please be aware that this is a milblog, and that as such, it exhibits some of the coarse language that goes with a warrior's vocabulary.

07 February 2008

Interesting Day

It was an interesting day, yesterday.

I had signed up to donate plasma at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), which is supposed to be about an hour and a half long procedure. For those who don’t know how this works, they put a needle in one arm and draw the blood out of it. The blood runs through a machine that separates the plasma from the rest of the blood. They put a catheter into the other arm, and once it’s through the machine, return the unused portion of your blood to you through the cath site. This process is called apheresis. (If you’re interested in more info about giving blood in support of military hospitals, click here.) Most people know about whole blood donation. That’s when one donor provides whole blood that helps usually only one or two patients. Fewer know about apheresis, which allows one donor to help up to 3 patients. Whole blood donation can only be done every 56+ days because of how long it takes the body to manufacture the blood to replace the deficit. Apheresis can be done every 2 weeks, because the body isn’t running on less blood, so it can work more efficiently to replace one type of cells in the blood.

For those of you who don’t know, I started giving blood in an effort to squelch my irrational fear of needles. (It works. When they want to give you a shot with that tiny little teensy barely-there prick of a needle, it’s NOTHING compared to the 14 gauge, or whatever it is, that they use to draw blood.) For this reason, it’s not entirely logical to jump to the conclusion that I’d be all about the whole apheresis process, since it requires 2 equally large needles going into two arms respectively.

I got there and checked in, and they took me into the room where they do the procedure. I got all comfortable in the really stinking kewl chair they sent me to, and the young gentleman came over to prepare me to insert the needles. First he had to decide which veins he was going to use. He looked at my left arm and identified 2 likely candidates. The first was the fire-hose vein through the center of my elbow, but it’s a bit deep, and the second was the vein that runs across the top of the inside of my elbow. He looked at my right arm and settled irrevocably on the center vein in my elbow. He did all of the sterilizing stuff, then proceeded to stick the needle in my arm. He poked and prodded, and he tried to get into that big vein with no luck, so he called over another person to try. He poked and prodded, and he tried to get into that big vein with no luck, so he pulled the needle out. He sterilized the other site, stabbed the needle straight into it with no problems, and I proceeded to gush blood all over everything. He cleaned me up and got the catheter all ready to go and drew a half dozen vials of blood from that site, then the first guy went to my right arm. He stabbed right into that big vein in the middle, but couldn’t get it seated properly, so he poked and prodded until he was happy with where it was. He hooked me all up to the machine and got my blood flowing.

A side note—since this procedure usually takes about 1.5 hours, I had brought reading material. When you have needles in both elbows, you cannot bend your arms. This makes reading a less desirable past time. I did manage to finish one book (which only had a few pages left, anyway), but then I took the movie option. They have a huge library of movies to watch.

All was flowing well, and I was very comfortable, and the machine started to beep. The young man came over and readjusted the needle; the machine stopped beeping. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. A few minutes later, the same thing happened… you get the picture. He decided my hands were cold, so he got me some warm IV bags to squeeze instead of the foam ball. (I’m a very warm-natured person. I overheat at the very thought of “room temperature”. I was entirely OK with the concept that removing blood and putting it back in cools you down. I was perfectly comfortable with this process. Cooling off is no problem. I didn’t want to get warmed back up, but they made me. Sigh.) Several more shifts of minutes going by and needle adjustments happened. Finally a THIRD guy came over and grabbed the needle to rummage around in my vein a bit, untaped everything, re-seated it, re-taped it. A few minutes later, the machine was beeping again. The second guy came back and stripped the line. He said, “oh, it’s just clotting. No big deal” and we went on. After a half dozen more times of readjusting the needle and stripping the line, they finally decided that it wasn’t flowing well enough to continue. They removed the line to my right arm to try to get some vials out of it. Nothing. Nada. No flow coming through that needle. Apparently I had managed to clot up the whole works from inside the needle. They let the blood continue to flow back in through the cath site, then they had to remove the catheter and reattach the other thingie so they could take more vials out of my left arm, which was also beginning to be sluggish. Eventually, they unattached everything and bandaged me all up. They let me finish the movie (and even brought me snacks), gave me a t-shirt, and sent me off on my own. Apparently, I have very good platelets. haha

I’ve had a friend in the hospital there for more than a week, and I had been trying to reach him to let him know I’d take him to lunch while I was there, but to no avail. So, since I’d visited previously, I just went up to the ward where he had been. I was told that he’d been moved. They checked the computer, and he had been moved to ICU! I was shocked. He’d been on the mend when I’d seen him last, and he had been told he was going to be released. What in the world?!? So I hauled my cookies down to the ICU, where I was immediately presumed to be his wife and escorted into his room. I spent a few minutes there, holding his hand as he slept, and then I asked if it’d be alright if I came back. I was told that I could come anytime I wanted to, and I left to go to an orientation class that I was required to attend at 1.

I went to the auditorium, found a seat, got comfortable, and was prepared to be there for a few hours when I began looking around. I thought, “What’s with all the vestments?” I asked another lady, “Is this the Command Orientation?” She said, “No, this is Catholic Mass.” It was Ash Wednesday, so that made sense, but I had a schedule that said that I was supposed to be there, so I went to check. Surely enough, Command Orientation was cancelled for the day, and it was not communicated. At all. No signs. No emails. No notes. Nothing. A friend of mine told me that there was a Protestant service up in the chapel, and she thought it was at the same time as the Mass, so I headed up there. I figured it would be good for me. It turns out that the Protestant service was at 11, and all was long over and done.

So I ran a few errands in the building, made some necessary visits to a couple of offices, and I went out to my car and got another book and went back up to the ICU. No one had asked me how I knew him. I was allowed to bring in a chair and sit by him and read. He slept most of the time. He was a very sick boy. He only awakened enough to talk and make sense twice, for a few seconds. When he was slightly more conscious, he would squeeze my hand. I was very concerned. Everyone who came in, though, (doctors, nurses, techs, etc.) assumed that I was “family” and told me basically everything they would have told him if he was awake. It was really interesting. I was even given instructions to tell him things when he woke up, which he didn’t do again while I was there.

Eventually, I got my things together and left. By the time I headed home for the evening, I could do nothing but laugh at all the misadventures of the day. I successfully gave plasma, albeit a shorter batch than what they usually take in essentially twice the time it usually takes to give it. I didn’t get the orientation completed, and don’t even know how to go about finding out when it’s to be re-scheduled, which was the main reason I was at WRAMC in the first place. I got to spend time with a friend, who, admittedly, wasn’t entirely conscious of the fact that I was there, and I made some new friends in the hospital. All in all, I have to say, it was a very interesting day.

Much love,

Post Script: I did speak to my friend's nurse, today, and was told that he is doing considerably better. He’s awake, alert, and functioning almost normally. They were preparing to move him back to a regular patient ward, pending the results of some tests. I will see him tomorrow in his new room, when I’m back there, but his condition is much improved. Please keep him, and all our recovering warriors in your prayers.