Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tag, You're "It"

Can I just be a big old whiny brat for a minute here?

I don't have an available shoulder to cry on right now, so... Tag, you guys are "It."

This has been the worst couple of days I've had in a while. And I have had some baaad days!

Yesterday, I fell while shoveling the driveway. Nothing hurt but the left side of my pride. Today, I wrenched my shoulder while chopping ice. While I was in the bathroom later on, I noticed some new spots on my face. I'm wondering if these are the skin granules that come with Sarcoidosis. Hopefully not. Might just be from dry skin. (I mean, did I not already complain that God has taken everything I used to be vain about: my hair, my figure, my thought processes. Now my skin is going to be all crazy looking?)

Anyway, back to this horrendous day.

My sister had a little day surgery planned for today. Nothing major (thank God), but poor thing, she had to do the medical fast from last night to - well, let's see, it's 8:00pm now and we got home about 30 minutes ago. I felt so bad for her because this was truly a nightmare of a day.

The surgery was scheduled for 2pm and we had to be at the hospital by noon. We are on time and ready to go. I'm promising my sister all kinds of coffee and food the minute she can roll out of recovery and work her lips.

Yeah, well...

Apparently this was the day for every emergency or mishap or whatever could back up things in the operating rooms. The poor doctor was just going into another surgery at the time that he was supposed to be getting ready for my sister. Our 2pm surgery didn't get started until about 4:20pm. And of course, we can't just cruise on home because that would mean this day wasn't the absolute crappiest. No, we have to go by the pharmacy - not that my sister really needed the pain meds at the moment; the pain will probably kick in later - because I have meds that I can't be without and my sister has meds she can't be without... (Oh, when we all get to Heaven where there will be no illness!)

So, I get to Walmart and go to pick up all the meds. Well, there's 3 of them that are so expensive that they're just going to have to wait a few days. The ones that are ready and - ahem - reasonably priced still come up to over $50 with insurance and every discount program known to man... I just about felt sick to my stomach - until I realized that might require more meds...

I am just done in. I'm so tired that I forgot I was hungry. My legs hurt from lugging all this 190 pounds around when they were built to carry a max of 140. My eyes are irritated and starting to itch. My shoulder is achy. If I could, I'd curl up in a ball and just wait for the Rapture.

Good news is, now that I got all that off my chest, I feel slightly better. Once again, I am reminded of God's command and promise: "Be still and know that I am God."

He knows what kind of day I've had and He knows how I feel right now. He knows and I am thankful. Praise God.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Acceptance & Stllness

It's never too late to learn and never too late to fix things within yourself. Part of giving your life to Christ is learning that you put away old things and take on the new. We are new in Christ.

It's difficult to go against so much of what you learned from a child up. It seems almost wrong to go against the grain that way. All my life I was taught that family is everything. Blood is thicker than water and all that. If what was good for the family was different than what was good for me, I was taught to defer to the family situation. And I did. I never questioned it.

For my most productive years - my mid-twenties to my forties - my sister, my mother and I kept what I will call the "base camp" of the family. Our house was the hub. It's where "Grammy" was, so it's where the rest of the family came for comfort, safety, wisdom and love. Mom was Grammy, of course. My sister was the "lap," and I was the worker bee and sometime disciplinarian. It was a good life. I never thought it should be any other way.

Sacrifices are not seen as costing anything. They are treasures built up for memories.

For a long time - in fact until recently - I was blindly assuming of what my place is in memories. I thought that all those little treasures would mean something. My little brother and I have discussed this before. His theory is that people don't cherish what they took for granted. I'm still undecided.

Outside my family, I've had a few very dear friends. The kind that stay in your life forever. I've since made one of those friends. So, I had family and I had friends. I thought I had built up a treasury of bonds and ties and memories.

After I got sick, I had tons of emotional support from a girlfriend here in town, another friend in Holland and another friend in Texas. It was nothing big or flashy, but they called, they sent random text messages and jokes and emails. In their own ways, they were letting me know that I truly mattered to them, that I would be missed. One of them just the other day sent me a joke about being fat and beautiful. (I had sent her a pic of my with all this weight!)

I appreciated that love so much that I didn't notice the absence of anything else. For most of July and August, I think I was in shock from everything that had happened (I had nightmares for a few weeks about death and dying) and just didn't pay attention. But when I did, I noticed the phone calls that didn't come. Amazingly enough, some of these were people that I would have died for, and that I had sacrificed time and years and life desires for... I had to decide how to deal with the disappointment.

There was a time when this would have just undone me. I mean, it would have devastated me down to my soul. If it had happened before I re-committed my life to the Lord, I don't think I could have handled it. I've noticed that most of the worst has happened when I have the strength of Christ to lean on.

What happened in this case is that I was forced to take a look at life as it really is and not the way I've always wanted it to be. I can't be bitter or mad or resentful.You can't change who you are - not to yourself and not the other people. You can accept it.

How simple is that? When the thought of acceptance came to me, I thought of Psalm 46:10 - "Be still and know that I am God."

That is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible to me because it is an answer to everything.

So I have learned to be accepting. I don't push myself into the center of things anymore, hungry for acknowledgment. I don't sit and wonder why or why not. I don't regret anything I have done for anyone else. I don't feel the depression from the sense of not being on someone's radar. I just accept. 

I have learned to be still and know that God is God.

So, if you are out there, feeling rejection or being passed by in this world, please don't. Try to accept and be strong enough to hold on to God's promises. This life is temporary. It's not eternity.

Revelation 21:4 tells us of one of those promises:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Trust on that.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free of Facebook

Finally broke free of that demon Facebook! lol.

They don't make it easy to leave. I was forced to give a reason (just selecting "Other" would not do), so I type gibberish in the box. I feel like I shouldn't have to explain or give a reason. It's a website not a relative or spouse...Then I had to reload the captcha (or whatever those security letters are called) twice before I could even read the letters. I think that's their  THEN I had to notice the little tiny sentence about opting out of receiving mails from Facebook. Really? I have to tell you to leave me alone? Didn't I just break up with you???

What tedium. I'm pretty sure I will have nightmares about being pursued by the ghost of Facebook.

Still loving Google+ Even though my circles are small, I like that I can check out people's art, photos, musings and ideas without a lot of hassle. I'm waiting for Google to develop a better way to search + by interests. Right now, I have to use the basic bar search which brings up too many results. Other than that though, I'm fine with it.

I guess I'm cleaning out my internet closet. As of now, I have Google+, Twitter, Blogger and Bloggers, and a couple of smaller and random networks I participate in. I want to start integrating all my blogs that I have scattered all over the web.

I need to find out how UrbanPerspective and MrsCooper have their web stuff organized....

For now, as always


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thinking About Mom

I don't believe in ghosts or anything like that so I have never wished I could see dead relatives or friends, but last night something really nice happened to me.

I went to bed feeling sick with this stupid cold, feeling alone just from the world and wishing so much that I could just spend a few minutes with my mother.

When I was about 21 or 22, after I had left my first husband and come home, I went through a kind of identity crisis. I felt like I was just wandering through life. I didn't know what I wanted or what I wanted to do with myself. I think I went around for about a month feeling like this - just going to work, coming home, going to sleep, waking up and doing it all over again.

My mother (like most mothers, I guess) could tell that I was dealing with something deep. We are not a kissy-huggy type of family. My mother was not the type to ask you what you were feeling. It just was not her way.

What she did was, she was sitting on the couch (I think she was shelling peas or something) and when I came into the room, she patted the seat next to her. I went over and sat down and she just put her arm around me and pulled me  onto her shoulder. And I just bawled.

Mama didn't say anything, but I told her something like I felt lost. I can't remember what I said exactly, but it was something like, "I don't know who I am."

My mother told me that I was her baby girl. She said that's all I needed to be.

I never told anyone about this at the time. I think I was embarrassed. Not long before, I had had a little bit of an emotional meltdown with my sister and I'm sure she told Mama about it.

I forgot all about this happening. I don't know why because I think about my mother almost every single day.

Anyway, last night I dreamed about that very thing. The details aren't clear, but it was basically a dream about that moment with my mom.

I woke up this morning feeling better than I have for a long time. I think that God knew I needed to have that memory of my mother. It's going to help me get through a lot of stuff, and I know I have a hard road ahead of me, so I'm glad.

When my mother passed away and family came home for the funeral, we shared memories of my mom. My aunt Lizzie told us how much she loved Mama. I remember something she said to us: "Your mother had a hard life early on, so I'm glad she had a good life later."

I am my mother's baby girl. I am my mother's daughter. I am having a hard time right now, but I will have a good life later.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks Given

Thanksgiving this year was good for me. I am learning to accept things and be okay with them. Life is what it is and it's futile to try to make it something else. Learning that lesson has been painful, but it's one I am thankful for.

I am thankful for coming closer to the Lord. Of course, the closer I get, the brighter His light shines on my life - exposing the best and the worst!

Believe it or not, I was even a little thankful for the snow yesterday. One of my web buddies was complaining that 70 degree weather is not nice this time of year. I get it. Don't think that I would want that kind of temp at Thanksgiving or Christmas - but I could sure use it most of the rest of the year! LOL

I am also thankful for memories of my mother. Whenever feel alone and lost, which has been a lot these days, I can think of Mom and her strength and know that I am her child. If she could deal with bad things in life, and she had to, so can I.

I am thankful for my friend Jone. She has been a true, true blessing. (She reminds me that when we first met, we really kinda didn't click for a couple of days!) I don't know how I would have survived the last few months without her friendship. Even now she is such a rock of encouragement and validation that I appreciate.

I am thankful for my doctor. What a kind, compassionate person he is. I'm sure that there are many doctors who are as good, but I lucked out in getting him.

I am thankful for the team of people working with me to get through this treatment and the aftermath to come. Julie and Ranae and Jaime and all the others. So glad for their patience and empathy.

I am glad for my sister. My rock. She gets it. She gets me.

I am glad that my little brother lived through his crisis and is here to see another year.

I am glad for this blog and the friends I have made through it. Some blessings come to us in different ways. It still surprises me that I have met people through this blog that I am in touch with almost 6 years later. (And I miss some folks, like Supasister, who are dealing with their own deep, deep feelings. I know she is out there though, and I know she will be back.)

Most of all, I am thankful for something my aunt taught me: everyday should be thanksgiving and we should love and care everyday like we do on the one day.

So, lots to be thankful for. Lots to be hopeful and grateful for. Praise God for his gifts to us.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

R and R & P and P

Rest and Relaxation
With the extremely cold weather we are having here in Anchorage, we are all doing our best to stay in. At this point, I would pass up free servings of my favorite foods if I had to leave the house to get it. No jive. It's something like -2 out and the High is expected to be -1? I'm like, Are you serious? And just to make things even more fun, there might be fog later in the day. Really?

Sooo... I have my weekend entertainment all lined up. It involves blankets, pillows, several Agatha Christie books, some Murder She Wrote dvds and the computer.

Actually, I have to tell you about a movie I stumbled across on You Tube. I was setting up a playlist of all the Sherlock Holmes videos and not paying attention to the dates. One of them turned out to be a 2004 movie called "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking." Let me tell you, that was a gooood movie. Rupert Everett plays Holmes and the story is full of unexpected turns and tricks. Nice. I don't know how long it will be up on You Tube or if it is part of their movie collection... At any rate, you should go check it out.

For my reading entertainment, I loaded up on a bunch of Poirot and Marple mysteries. I will never get tired of those two. I just found out that ITV (BBC tv) is going to do 5 final Poirot films. I've already watched all the 22 ones that have been done and I just love the actor David Suchet because he does Poirot so well. To see for yourself, check out one part of one of the videos. Just wish I could find Miss Marple videos as easily...

Of course, in between reading and watching movies, I will be checking in on my G+ page. I'm a little bit addicted! I don't think I've been on Facebook at all for the past few days except to read the messages that pop up on my phone. I am just about ready to shut it down, or at least follow my friend Drew's lead and start unfriending a bunch of dead weight.

Praise and Prayer
I know that there are a lot of people out there who, like me, are dealing with a lot of issues - health, financial, etc., - that are so heavy. Those issues are not just going to go away, but while we deal with them, it's important to try keeping up your spirits. If you like to exercise, then do that. If you like to knit or do crossword puzzles, then do that. Your problems are something you deal with everyday. I know that I have the doctors' appointments, meetings with counselors and social workers, then there's trying to get insurance and bills paid. It's a lot of stress. If you don't do something enjoyable in between all that, you will crack. You will forget how to smile and be joyous. You will forget how to fight against the spirits of despair and depression. The Enemy just loves when he can see us start to weaken.

Don't weaken. Let God give you strength and hope. Pray and give thanks  and give praise for all the blessings you do have and show God how you appreciate your life by enjoying what you can. Seriously, your troubles aren't going to last forever. God has plans for all of us.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Jer 29:11)

Isn't that wonderful? Even though that was a message to a nation, Jesus's life, death and resurrection transferred that same promise to us.  So, be encouraged. Even if you lose everything else in your struggles, do not lose faith in God.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Breakup

Dear Facebook,

We need to talk. I know, I know, no one in a relationship wants to hear those 4 words, but... Well, I'm just not feeling the way I did when we first started out. Let me try to explain.

At first, you fulfilled all my needs. You were so easy to get along with and you let me hang out with my friends... It was nice. You didn't mind when I got hooked on the games - matter of fact, you encouraged it. You made the games better and better and- Well, you know what I mean. You let me try different things. You let me have a farm with all kinds of cool equipment and buildings. I might not have had the biggest farm around, but it was a pretty one! (I didn't even tell you about the secret farm I had on the side... No matter. I never used it much. When I found out that was cheating, I was too ashamed to do anything with it.)

Not only did you let me have a farm, but when I got bored with that, you let me have my own cafe. Now that is what really made me love you even more. I tell you, I was never happier than during the hours I spent decorating that place, finding just the right name and choosing the dishes... It was pure joy. You did get a little annoyed when I started slacking a little. First with the farm - the crops were just went to weed! Then I just couldn't keep up with the cafe anymore. It just got too complicated, what with all the new and improved equipment and recipes... I almost had no life outside the cafe! And all those other chefs wanting my help. It was  a constant chatter of "Can you send me this? Can you send me that? Will you taste my salad? Will you come season my dish..."  That was bad enough, but I also had the other farmers always pleading for help with planting, sowing and trading. Sheesh! I felt like going into the witness protection program!

But still, that's not your fault. I should have stuck to the simpler pursuits you introduced me to later, like Bejeweled or Collapse. I could handle those without losing hours of my life like an alcoholic having a blackout. Plus, this also gave me more time to spend with my friends. Well, if you can call most of them that.

I was always surprised that you let me have so many friends. Maybe that's because though I ended up with over 200, only about 5 ever came around on a regular basis. The rest of them were never even in the area - not even for a drive-by post - or they only came on to have their say and disappear. Some of them were around on a regular basis - if you wanted to hear about what time they took a deep breath or what song they listened to while stuck in traffic... Then there were those who only ever commented on their own posts. You'd rarely see them visiting anyone else. They were interesting at times, but not that interesting... Yeah, I should have been a little more discriminating. I should have stuck to the friends who had something interesting to say and actually noticed what others had to say. That's what I get for going in for quantity over quality. I could have saved myself the trouble of people who stick their noses in comments made on someone else's post and then get huffy. *shrug* Live and learn.

Now, I'm not here to blame you for the time I wasted in useless farming or restauranteering (and, yes, that is a real word - or at least I think so). Anyway, the real concerns have to do with trust. I feel like I don't know what you are doing from one minute to the next. I feel so vulnerable and never know if you really are protecting me. I mean, I don't want just everybody knowing my business. It's not like sharing such personal things with you has been easy. I mean, I tend to be kind of a private person. Basically, I trust you, but I don't know who all you are associating with. I mean, really! In this day and age you have to be so careful.

Also (and I really didn't want to have to bring this up because it sounds a bit petty, but...) you tend to be a tad moody. I'm sorry, very sorry, but I just had to say it. I mean, I never know what you are going to do from one day to the next. Just when I get used to you being one way, you go and change. If you could ever just give me some kind of warning.  Because I don't mind change, really I don't. You know what we've already been through. And I've stuck with you, right?  It's just that, well, when you want to change something, do something different, maybe spice things up, it would be nice if you'd let me know.

Anyway, that's what I wanted to tell you. I don't know if it will make a difference. After all, I'm just one person out of millions who adore you. You won't miss me if I leave, probably won't even notice. Maybe someday you and I will make a better team, but for now... Well, this is difficult, but I haven't been completely fair to you either. You see, I've started another relationship elsewhere. At first, I just wanted some comfort I wasn't getting from you. I didn't expect to be swept off my feet. It all happened so fast. I had only planned to introduce myself, you know, break the ice and maybe just have a little harmless fun. Before I knew it, I was meeting new friends and having all sorts of interesting encounters... Oh, it was just glorious! Just everything I could want in a relationship.

I'm sorry that things have turned out this way. Even if you care enough to change, I can't give up this new relationship. It just meets my needs in a way that you haven't been able to. Besides, I feel like I've grown so much and learned to choose my friends more wisely. It's like starting over and getting to keep only the best while leaving the worst behind.

I'm not completely out of your life. I will stop by every now and then, when I have time, just to see how everything is going.

Well, I can't stay. I have to get back to... Well, no matter.

Take care! Smooches!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Remember When

I've been in a reminiscing mood all day. With Sarc, one of the things I have trouble with is remembering. Mostly, I can remember things that happened a long time ago, but have trouble with the here and now. Since I have the precious gift of so many older memories I'm posting on the #Remember hashtag over on Twitter and figured I might as well share here:

Remember when Mom baked & you got to like the spoon?

Remember  when Moms made "sample" cakes before they baked the real one? I always got to eat the sample!

Remember when kids played hopscotch, jump rope, jacks and marbles? Do they still do that?

Remember when you got your first "press & curl" & no more pigtails? (OK this is for black women, ppl! lol)
Remember when ANY adult could smack your behind when you misbehaved?

Remember when you had to say "ma'am" & "sir" to adults?

Remember when you couldn't call adults just by their 1st name?

Remember when you could get pieces of tar to chew on? I'm sure that's why my teeth were so healthy back then.

Remember when curfew was whatever time the streetlights came on?

Remember when you could go to the corner store & get a lemon & peppermint stick? Put the ppmnt stick in the lemon.

Remember when church went on for HOURS? And it was always too hot or too cold. And you had the MLK paper fans.

Remember when getting chocolate milk w/school lunch just made the whole day better?

Remember when a bully called you out for a fight after school & you just dreaded 3 o'clock?

Remember when kids made mud pies? & somebody came out w/SuzyBake ovens. I got 1 & U couldn't tell me NOTHIN! I was Julia-Betty Cro-Childs

Remember playing dress-up in Mom's clothes? I dang near broke my ankle wearing her heels.

Remember  the smell of freshly mimeographed papers the teacher handed out?

I Remember when my mom could make a feast for the family out of a potato, onion & a piece of hamburger meat.

I Remember my first "perfume" was vanilla extract & baby powder.

I Remember  being taught that no matter how old I am, I'm still to respect those who are older

I Remember being taught that being "grown" and being mature are 2 different things. There's too many immature "grown" folks these days.

I Remember when our phone was on a party line.

I Remember riding w/mama in this old light blue truck. Seats were all cracked, smelled like oil rags & gear shift was on steering wheel.

I Remember that during lightening storms, grandma wld unplug EVERYTHING & we kids had 2B very still & quiet.

I Remember my aunt's sweet tea. It was real strong w/about 2 inches of sugar sitting in the bottom. Haven't had such delicious tea since.

I Remember catching lightening bugs & using the glow part for jewelry.

I Remember eating hoecake w/onions & gravy, pinto beans & hot water cornbead. Daddy liked hot skillet cornbread w/cold buttermilk. 

God's blessed me to have so many wonderful memories. I hope you enjoyed the stroll as much as I did.

Almost Over Facebook

Truly, I really am just about over Facebook. There's really only two reasons that I can blame of Facebook itself:

1- Too many changes, no stability.
2 - The whole privacy issue thing

Everything else that bothers me about Facebook is my own fault. For one thing, I have let my "friend" list get way out of control. One of the reasons I participate in social networks is to, well, network. I'm not talking anything fancy, but I like the exchange of ideas and information. I get that from Twitter, but there's that whole 140-character limit thing...

The best thing about Twitter is the constant interaction. You can always find someone who shares your interests. There's very little dead weight and if there is, you can easily pare down your list. I currently "follow" 1431 people (or groups) on Twitter and I have 1737 following me. Here's how that breaks down:

Tweeters I interact with on regular basis (such as group meets, Bible study, She Speaks,  Vocal Point, etc) 100-200 (sometimes more, depending on attendance or a Twitter "party").

Interact with 1-on-1 on regular basis (Twitter stream and  DMs) 100 - 150
Interact with via DM and email on constant basis 20-25
Interact with on semi-regular basis (outside Twitter stream) 10-15
No interaction or rarely on Twitter stream 30-45

Another big Twitter plus: I can put out a prayer request and immediately have at least 20 to 30 folks respond.

I know I'm not the only one having fits over all the changes on Facebook. The privacy and issues of instability is Facebook's fault. It's my own fault that I don't enjoy the interaction (or lack of). For one thing, I let my "friends" list get out of control. On Twitter, I pick people based on interests and ideas and common intellect. On Facebook, I picked family, friends, acquaintances, fellow gamers... I pretty much approved anyone who sent a request. As of today, I have 202 "friends" and here's how that list breaks down:

People I know personally, am related to 81
People I know, but haven't seen for years (but we interact) 7
Ditto (but we don't interact) 41
People who are rarely or never even ON facebook 72
People I only know online, but communicate with regularly 5
People who actually talk about something other than what they ate or where they checked in at 9
People I have no idea who they are at all 11
People I only have on my list because of the games 12

There's a lot of dead weight. Out of 202 "friends," I get very little or no interaction. Unlike Twitter, I'm networking with people who are not in my life area: I don't party, curse or talk about a lot of the things I dis before I committed to Christ. Most of my posts or "shares" are news stories (because that's a big interest) or of Christian and social interests. Don't get me wrong - I love my friends and family, but most of them are not the most conservative of folks...

The Switchover
 I have been looking around for something more expansive than Twitter and more substantial than Facebook. I've signed up for an invite to Diaspora (which might be a little over my head) and I very recently set up my Google+ profile.  My dream is to somehow have the best of Twitter, Facebook and my blog communities. It's going to be hard to leave Facebook, though. Problems and all, it's still the first place where I was able to have all the family "together."

The thing I like about Google+ (so far) is that I can set up "circles" of  friends. It seems much easier than the lists on Facebook. One of the first things I've done is designate circles to keep everyone in their own little realm. Now I have to figure out how to add the FB, Twitter and Blog folk I want to keep. Other than family, there are only about 7 people I'm taking from Facebook. Twitter is going to be more complicated.

The one downside I can think of is that I'm not sure how many people use Google services. I've used Google for around 5 or 6 years - for my blogs, mail and the many other services they've had - but I don't know a whole lot of people with even Gmail. Hmm... Gonna have to think on that.

So... I will hopefully be able to shut down my FB account sometime in the very near future. Pretty sure I will go through withdrawals. In that case, I'll just open another FB account and keep the friends' list on the quality-not-quantity side.


Monday, November 14, 2011

You Don't Have to Like It...

(This was originally posted at my Friend or Faux blog. That blog is newer than this one and, probably because of the religious nature, does not get as many visitors as this one. SO... I am sharing this particular post here.)

This is not for non-believers. This is strictly for Christians - and not those who just call themselves Christian, but for the ones who truly desire to live what they claim. (Non-believers won't like it, but they don't really care, right? And "pick-and-choose" Christians will probably choose to ignore it.) By the way, this post is a result of talking to people I care about who choose to ignore some of the things I am discussing.

You don't have to like it, but you might want to pray about it:

  • Practicing Yoga is not for the Christian. I have family members who practice it and I want to say they do it out of ignorance or being fashionable. Some have been led to believe it is okay because of bad teaching. I was stunned to realize that there is something out there called "Christian Yoga." Whatever the reason, I have warned them about it. Not sure if they appreciated my warning, but they might want to pray about it. For everyone else, here is one reference to examine and here is another. Now, go talk to God about it.
  • What you listen to, watch  and do does affect your life. I had a real hard struggle in giving up listening to music and comedy that had foul language and shady references to Christianity. When I started weeding out things for the language, that was almost all of it. As a Spirit-filled Christian, why would I want to be bombarded with crude references to women, sex and life?  Or listen to someone brag on and glorify their material pursuits or criminal activities?  Then, when I looked at the lifestyles of the people producing this "entertainment" or diversion, I had to ask why I would support or encourage them. What exactly are they diverting my attention to?  My  own current battle: I have a nasty tobacco smoking habit that I am struggling to quit. Not only is it bad for my physical health, but it's a weapon the Enemy can use against me when I am trying to witness to others. My doctor has started me on a new medication to help me in my quest to quit.
  • Prayer is central to the Christian life. Reading and studying the Bible is central to the Christian life. I know many Christians who are first in the line going into the church on Sundays but they war against the very gospel because they don't pray or read the Bible. They believe what they want to believe or what the world tells them to believe, but when a fellow Christian tells them something, they react from their feelings. What they should do is learn to listen, then go to the Bible prayerfully to see what the Lord wants. In other words, get prayerful and seek Christ on something before you get mad. This was a hard thing for me to learn. When I had things pointed out to me - like my cursing and smoking and entertainment choices - my reaction was either to get defensive or point a finger back at the person telling me I was falling into a trap. When I learned to pray about things and really take a look at what they were telling me, most times I had to agree that they were right. Doesn't mean I changed what I was doing right away, but I was convicted by truth. 
  • Sin will either feel good or it will feel bad. Either way, its effects and consequences are always bad. 
Finally, before you get on a huff and start telling me it isn't my business what you do, I am doing this out of love and out of what the Bible teaches:

But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him]. (Heb 3:13, Amplified)

You don't have to like it and I don't either. I just feel like I needed to warn you. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 9:8 that a "scorner" will hate you for it, but a wise man will love you. (And, yes, there is a difference between "judging" and rebuking, warning or correcting.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy

This is going to be happy post. A buddy of mine has demanded that it be. (If you make it to the end, there is a reward of sorts!)

The other day I was in a really snotty mood (part Sarc & part human button-pushers) and after my pal let me vent, she suggested that I fight the blues with some joy.

"You know what?" she said, "Sometimes people aren't out to ruin your day. They just do and say normal things that seem irritating because of the mood you're in."

Good logic.

"So why don't you - when someone says or does something that makes you feel mad or hurt or whatever - why don't you just think of a blessing?"

For some reason her advice sounded familiar.

"I happen to know that it works," she continued. "A really good friend of mine taught me the trick."

Oh. Yeah. I remembered telling her the same thing once.

So, I've been taking my boomeranged advice and it does work. Sometimes, if the Sarc has my mind fuzzy, I just say, "Thank You, Jesus." It's something I usually say when I'm feeling good, but it's even better to remember giving thanks when I feel not so good.

When I reported back to my friend how this was working out, she suggested that when I just feel frustrated with life in general, I should think humorous thoughts. Now, even though I have a blog dedicated to humor, I thought I'd share some short & funny pieces here. We all deserve to smile sometimes. Enjoy!

*Some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant.
*Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice"?
*The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you're in the bathroom.
 (credit to these folks)

*I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.
*Alcohol never solved any problems, for anyone... but then again, neither has milk.
*I feel so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here
*Chaos, panic, & disorder - my work here is done.
(credit to these folks

*I haven’t spoken to my wife for 18 months- I don’t like to interrupt her.
*I have CDO. It’s like OCD, but the letters are in alphabetical order, LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.
*A retired husband is often a wife’s full-time job.


Me + My Hair = ?

I am thinking it might be time to cut my hair off. I've been hanging into the parts that the medicine hasn't taken out yet, but I'm finding more and more thinning patches.

This is another blow to my already flagging mood. I know that it shouldn't be that big of a deal. It's just hair, right? And someday it will (probably) grow back. And, even if it doesn't, I shouldn't be that vain. I should just be thankful for all my serious blessings - not sitting here grousing about hair.

But, in the meantime, it's the last physical thing that seems normal about me. With all the rest of my life in a mess, I have my body morphing into a perpetually pregnant shape, my face all chipmunk-y. Add the back aches, leg aches and red-itchy-swollen eyes... All I have left is what's left of my hair. (If I comb it just right, it's hard to tell that parts are missing.)

It doesn't really matter though. Tell the truth, most of the time I don't have the energy to deal with it. Takes too much time to fix it so that it looks normal. I have so little left on the sides that it looks shaved.

It's just hair though. I should be ashamed for even thinking about it. My blessings are too numerous and the sufferings of others are too deep for me to be worried about my hair.

It's just hair.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Hand and the Other

 I've posted here or on another of my blogs about how a friend of mine is battling cancer. One of the things that came up in a conversation she and I had was how everyone wants to see Jesus but nobody wants to die. We were talking about eternity, but the same thing applies to our daily lives.

We Christians want to see Heaven, but don't want to die to the things we enjoy  here on earth. I see so many family and friends hanging on to sin with one hand and reaching out to Jesus with the other. The Bible tells us to resist the devil and  he will flee. Oftentimes, we'd rather resist the gospel to hang on to some things of the world.

For a long time I did the same thing. I held on to some things because I didn't no better, but even when I learned better, I didn't want to really let go. I wanted to find some kind of biblical "loophole" that would allow me to ease my conscience. I had to learn to listen to more mature Christian brothers and sisters who would lead me to Scriptures about specific things. It was hard. I was resisting the gospel. Who knows what else I am doing in ignorance?

I had more than one person rebuke me about astrology and following horoscopes. A ministry about the music industry opened my eyes to tactics used in entertainment.  I had a heavy interest in the paranormal and the occult and was hooked on shows that featured hauntings and occult experiences. I had never really looked at or understood what the Bible had to say about this (Deuteronomy and Isaiah).  Thank the Holy Spirit for opening my eyes to some of these things.

What are some of the things you are hanging on to? Are they material things, attitudes, a way of life, expectations...? When we call ourselves "Christians" and still practice certain things, we are not being a good representative of Christ or the gospel. We may even be misleading other Christians into thinking that something is okay.

When I struggle with choosing the Lord over worldly things, I often think about the rich young ruler in the Bible. If he had not been rich and had nothing worldly to give up, choosing to follow Jesus would have been easier. I think that this is obviously true for all of us.

I was in communication recently with a young woman I know. She questioned my opinion that Yoga is not for Christians. I don't know if she is a Christian or not,  but one thing she said stuck with me. She mentioned that she has been practicing Yoga for fifteen years. When we put a lot of time or effort into something, we don't want to give it up. If this lady is a Christian, this will be a struggle for her.

Another friend of mine used to be a heavy partier and recreational drug user before she came to Christ. Though she had not been an alcoholic, she won't touch alcohol at all now because it reminds her of her past. She had to give up everything that tied her to that old life.

For some people, their struggle is with money or material possessions. Maybe they made their money illegally or gained their possessions immorally. How difficult would it be for, say, a drug dealer to give up the cars and homes they gained through criminal activity? What if doing that meant being dirt poor and having to start all over?

For some people, the struggle may be with giving up a lifestyle. How does someone who has gained all their esteem from being beautiful or exploiting their  physical attributes give up the vanity? (I now think of the lady named Gretchen on Real Housewives of Orange Country. In opening credits, she says "God is my savior, my husband is my king, and my body, it's sinful." At one point she did a "sexy" modeling shoot for her line of seductive clothing. Like so many people today, her sexy image is a huge part of her identity.

The point is that we all have weaknesses that the Enemy can use to keep us from being the most effective witnesses to the gospel. We need to learn where we are vulnerable and then work at giving those things up. We need to start resisting Satan and  not the gospel.

Let me end by adding this: I think that the Enemy loves to use us against each other. Most often, when someone tries to warn me of some spiritual danger, I don't immediately react with gratitude.  Usually, I am a little resentful and I either challenge them to show me where Scripture agrees with them (and we do need to always consult the Bible), or I disbelieve them completely. Sometimes, I try to point out that what I am doing is harmless since I don't take it seriously. I am learning to just  listen, check Scripture and pray on everything. If the Enemy had his way, every discussion would turn into bullying, resentment and just a general falling-out among believers.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

5 Things A Married Woman Should Consider

When I did a post a couple years back on 6 Things Women (I) Want, I didn't follow up with a post for the ladies. Here it is now. In it I am speaking to Christians who went or are going into marriage as the Bible teaches. I realize that many couples are like I was and entered marriages that were broken before they were made. These things I mention are what I would have considered had my situation been better. If not for the abuse in my marriage, I would have considered these things before separating. I hope this post is a blessing to others.

Pride - Not worldly pride, but loving pride, if you can call it that. Whatever you call it, it's what will make you present your best to the world as a man's woman. It's what will make you want to represent yourself well as a Christian and married woman. Comb your hair, clean your clothes, keep your home clean. Keep your words clean. No Christian woman needs to be known for her ability to curse well, talk loud or cut someone down.

Hardworking - Don't be that woman who thinks being pampered is a ticket to laziness. If you both work outside the home, you both still have a home to care for. Take the time to prepare his meals, do his laundry and make the home nice. His job is to the the "man stuff" (and don't let the world trip you up with talk of sexism), your job is to do the "lady stuff." What's wrong with having feminine and masculine roles? If you want to start buying into what the world says about sexism gender roles, just look at where it's gotten us. If you are the sole breadwinner and there is no reason why he shouldn't be helping out, then something is wrong already.

Respect -  For your husband as your husband, a man, and a father. The world might not respect him, but he's not married to the world. Don't emasculate him. Don't parent him. Don't manipulate him. Don't try to rule over and be the "head" in the marriage.

Be his wife- You are not his "old lady" or "current thing," you are his wife. You are joined as one flesh. Don't live your marriage as if it is a temporary situation. You are married to him and not to anyone else. Your goal should not be to attract other men because you have the only man you need to be concerned with. I heard one minister remark that many woman make church leaders their "daddy" or "father." He is so right when he points out that this is disrespectful to a woman's husband and that it's not biblical. You are not married to your pastor, bishop, reverend or whoever. Your husband is your head in your home and family.

Be Feminine -  Again, don't listen to what the world says about gender roles. Assuming the man married you because you are a woman, be a woman and let him be a man. Don't try to take on his duties in the home. If he can't do something well at first, he can learn. He can't learn if you are always taking over and doing them for him. Be womanly and desirable to him. If his heart is right with the Lord, he won't take advantage or abuse that situation.

2Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.    23For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body. 24As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.
    25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, 27That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. 28Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30Because we are members (parts) of His body.
    31For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church. 33However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [[a]that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [b]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. Eph 5:22-33


FLASHBACK: 6 Things Women (I) Want In A Man

Looking back on posts I did prior to renewing my commitment to Christ, I see so much that I would like to amend. I will be doing that in a series of "Flashback" post.

I did one post a couple years ago called "6 Things Women (I) Want In A Man." I really don't want to change much about it except to advice readers to look at Ephesians5 and add a couple of points:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (Eph 5:22-33 ESV)

 Be someone she can submit to and feel safe in doing so.

Be the head without being big-headed.

Love her as Christ loves us.

When I wrote the original post, I don't think I followed up on my promise to do a post for the ladies. That's coming up!

In My Sarc Shoes

You know that old saying about walking a mile in someone's shoes, right? Well, I'm learning what it is to walk a mile in the shoes of someone with a chronic illness.

I wasn't going to post about it because I've been trying to be all "keep your head up" about it. When a Twitter friend asked me about how I was doing, I almost gave the usual polite response until it dawned on me that speaking up might help others. I have run across other blogs and forums where people have spoken up about their experience with Sarc and that's helped me. So, my turn.

When I was first diagnosed I was told how rare Sarcoidosis is supposed to be, but within weeks of telling people I had it, I found out about 3 people in my area who also have it. One person is a guy I used to work with, another is an acquaintance of his and still another is a member of a family I am fairly close to. Later I learned that possibly tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone may suffer from it.

There's no relief in knowing that I am not alone or part of some minority. It would be easier, I think, to have some disease that's more well-known - both for the treatment and the understanding. What's most frustrating about dealing with the effects of Sarc is that no one seems to really understand what it feels like. If I had, say, diabetes or had suffered a stroke, at least people could empathize when I described a symptom. In the case of Sarc even I don't know all the symptoms so I'm constantly worried.

The other day I just went into the bathroom and cried for half an hour. Why? Well, let's see, my back aches and I don't know why. My eyes feel swollen and itchy and sometimes are red for hours. And I don't know why. When I walk for any amount of time, my legs get tired and heavy and I'm worn out like I've run a marathon. And I don't know why. I break out into sweats at any given moment. And I don't know why. Worst of all, my brain seems to go on hiatus at various times, making me feel completely stupid and incompetent. And I don't know why. I feel so cranky all the time. And I don't know why. I feel great for a time and then fatigue slams into me like a wall. And I don't know why. Parts of my face, arms and legs go numb for whatever reason... Don't even get me started on what the medication does to me. The prednisone has me swollen to 40-plus pounds over my usual weight. The methrotrexate has my hair dry and falling out. My cuticles are dry, cracky and they hurt to touch anything.

I'm only 50 years old. I feel some days as if I am going on 80.

My best comfort has been in talking with the guy I used to work with. I find myself calling him up or texting him to ask ridiculous things like "Do you get the really horrible back ache for no reason?" Or, "This sounds crazy, but do you lose your train of thought right in the middle of doing something?" And I can't tell you how relieved I feel when he can say that the same thing happens to him. With other people, I don't think they take serious how scared it makes me feel. They care but they don't understand. How can they when I don't understand it either.

So, I am walking that mile. And it's so hard. It's hard not to feel sorry for myself. It's hard not to be upset at people who just seem to be clueless about how I feel.

That's all the bad stuff. Now, the blessings:

I know that God has a plan. He's never let me go through anything without a lesson. So, what have I learned or gotten out of this nightmare of Sarc?

I have been humbled, which is never a bad thing! I have gained compassion for anyone dealing with an illness or some other situation out of their control. I have been forced to do more praying and thinking and sitting still. I have received kindness and support from unlikely sources. I have learned to appreciate the things I can still do.

Most of all, I appreciate being humbled. One of my sins was my ego. It was easy for me to look at a person who didn't have what I had or wasn't able to do what I could do and dismiss them. I'd shrug them off as not worthy. I didn't consider what might have brought them to the place they were at and was holding them there. Now I understand that, for all I knew, God might have been working on them the way He is working on me. I've learned not to try to be all-knowing about people and their situation. I've learned that I am not as wise as I might like to think! lol

God has had to break me to make me.

Whew! I think I feel better getting all that off my chest. In the meantime, I hope that my Christian brothers and sister will pray for me. Pray that God's will be done.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
    And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
    Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)