Thursday, April 30, 2009

Want it All?

I read an interview with Miley Cyrus in Glamour magazine the other day. She’s surprisingly grounded for a teen who’s already been in the limelight for several years. She respects and appreciates her parents’ authority, and tries not to get into all the materialism that Hollywood promotes.

http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2009/04/miley-cyrus-americas-most-famous-girl-grows-up?currentPage=1

Why have Americans created this illusion of the American Dream that consists of a two kids, a big house, two new cars, and various other toys and activities? What’s wrong with leaving within your means and being content with less?

I love it that people like Rick Warren, Tiger Woods, and Miley give back. It is so much more rewarding to use your success to help provide for the needs of others, than to build up your “crib.”

Would we even be in the recession this deep if people weren’t trying to reach for more than they could afford, and if banks weren’t willing to do whatever it takes to get the business?

Simple is good. Simple means less things to take care of and maintain. Simple is taking time to enjoy free things like state parks and bike trails. Simple is paying off your car and enjoying it for awhile. Simple is a vase of fresh flowers instead of an interior decorating job. Simple is a good book that the new movie release is based on.

It’s easy to speak against materialism when you don’t have a lot of money. A good test is to ask yourself what you would do if you won the lottery or gained an inheritance of a million dollars. After you paid off your debts, where would the money go? Would it benefit yourself alone, or would it go toward the good of others?

As E.F. Schumacher says, “An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth… in short, materialism… does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.”

In other words, the chief problem of materialism is that it is never satisfied, and our world has limitations. To be content is the first step toward finding happiness.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Choosing Sunshine

I had a very happy day today. I’m not sure why. It could be my recent exercise program or a good night’s sleep. It could be a recent word of encouragement or an answer to prayer. I’m not sure, but I was actually giggling to myself on the elevator over some mundane thought.

What’s really strange is that I had a hard day yesterday. I was in a gloomy, anxious state of mind for most of the day. I started to think about moods and how they spread.

On a good day, I can start conversations with strangers. I don’t mind going out of my way to help people. I joke around; I’m playful. When I’m in a good mood, people around me seem to be in a good mood. It’s really a great place to be.

Why aren’t more people in that place? What makes the lady at the BMV so full of contempt? What makes a dentist argue with his assistant? What makes a mom raise her voice with her son over bedtime?

Is it more rare to feel happy or to feel upset? Or does that depend on the person? Is your mood within your control, or beyond it?

According psyweb.com, “mood is the way a person feels inside, the experience of emotion, sustained and predominant internal emotional experience.”

Yesterday, even though I had a rough morning, after an hour and a half with my Optimist club, I was smiling. What changed? I stopped dwelling on my problems and my feelings. I was focused on the people who were there, and making sure they felt comfortable. I was focused on the task of running the meeting.

Feelings come, unbidden. When something causes us to be angry or fearful, we have to deal with it, or decide it’s not worth getting upset over. We can change our feelings by changing what we think. We can change our feelings by focusing on something else, especially other people.

If I can think differently, I can change my feelings, and therefore change my mood. I can choose my mood. I can choose sunshine, even on a rainy, gloomy day like today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Little Piggy…

You have a high fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches. Is it the flu? Is it swine flu? What do you do?

The idea of a potentially deadly virus spreading from person to person throughout the world is a scary idea. What do we do with all the information available about this disease?

We could lock ourselves and families in our homes, bathe in sanitizer, cover every known surface with Lysol and bleach, throw away all the pork products, and wait out this potential pandemic.

Or we could live our lives as before, taking precautions we should be taking anyway to prevent the spread of disease, such as washing hands and staying home when sick.

About 36,000 people die from the flu every year in the United States. This compares to about 936,000 per year who die from cardiovascular disease, 553,000 who die from cancer, 69,000 who die from diabetes, and 43,000 who die from car accidents. You are more likely to die in a car crash than die from exposure to the flu.

Fear is not a way to live life. Fear is an emotion designed to protect you from real threats, like a deer jumping through your window. It is designed to warn you when something is not right, when you are in real danger.

In the Bible, God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” It is not His design for us to live in fear of anything, especially a malicious little virus.

Inform yourself of the symptoms and treatment of swine flu if you must, but don’t live in a constant state of anxiety about it. Even if this disease spreads into a major worldwide pandemic, all you can control is yourself and how clean your hands are. Nothing can be gained by fretting over the possibility, however remote, of meeting your demise in a hospital bed, your body wracked with swine flu, your loved ones standing by (with masks on).

Get out there! Smell the roses, soak up the sunshine, eat a ham sandwich. Live your life the way it was meant to be lived.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh Deer!


I made sure the ladies from corporate had their reports for their noon conference call. I left the two of them and my administrator in her office.


I clocked out, informed the receptionist, and headed to the car. The clouds were dark and ominous, and a wild wind whipped my hair into my face. It felt like a storm was brewing, and I felt a breath of anticipation in the air.


I drove to my husband’s workplace where we shared reheated salsa chicken and veggie quesadillas. I was proud of him for fixing a healthy lunch. We chatted and before long, it was time to head back.


As I walked into the nursing home, small groups of people were milling about, talking in hushed, excited voices. I slowly walked to the time clock, trying to make sense of what was being said.


“Is he still in there? Don’t open the door! I hope it’s okay. How did that happen? Where’s [the administrator]?”


“What’s going on?” I finally asked the receptionist.


Her eyes were wide. “A deer went through her window.”


I followed a small group that was headed outside to get a closer look. A few steps from the front entrance, I could see the jagged edge of the broken window and brownish red smears around the frame. Finally someone pointed it out to me- the tan back of a doe, labored in its breathing.


Animal control drove up. We were all asked to go inside, and then behind closed doors. As the animal control officer struggled with the deer to guide her back outside, I could hear the sound of breaking glass and the pounding on the heating duct through our shared office wall. It was heart-wrenching to think of the poor confused creature, still struggling to stay alive. It was scary, too.


I heard our maintenance supervisor say that the officer was going to put the animal down. I could see the deer through my office window now, lying in the grass, its mouth covered in blood, panting for breath. I went to the far corner of my office. I wanted to cover my ears like a child, but I couldn’t miss the faint “pop” that meant it was all over.


When the three ladies returned to the office to find laptops, purses, briefcases, and various personal items spattered in blood, they were shocked, and one was almost hysterical. Several office items headed straight to the dumpster. The housekeeping staff spent the next couple hours cleaning the mess that nearly covered the entire office.


The noon conference call had been cancelled. Had it not, the three ladies would have been in the office at the time the deer decided to run at the window. They would have been pelted with flying glass and possible attacked by a wounded animal. If they hadn’t decided to close and lock the door to take a tour of the building, the animal could have been running rampant through the nursing home.


I don’t believe in coincidences. God took care of my co-workers and the residents. Thank you!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Losing It

There’s a picture of a pizza on facebook. It’s caption asks me if I want to “become a fan.”

Now, all I can do is imagine a piping hot pizza, with spicy-sweet tomato sauce, thick slices of pepperoni or ham, flavorful veggies, and loads of gooey cheese all on a thick, chewy crust.

Two slices would be be equal to about half my daily calorie needs, and would include all my daily fat allowance. I’d still eat it if you put it in front of me, even though it’s past 9:00 at night, and I just had dinner three hours ago.

I read a lot about health and fitness. Maintaining good physical health makes it possible to do all the things you want to do in life. In my head, I know this. I have a little trouble practicing what I preach.

I was an athlete in high school. Now I spend a lot of time at a desk. Two kids and 15 years later, I have a little extra baggage. I’d like to get rid of it, and theoretically I know how to do that, but my execution is weak.

I’ve never been able to go on a stringent diet. The celery and cabbage soup diet was never for me. From what I’ve read, if you eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. A high protein, low fat, low calorie, high fiber diet is best, spread out over four or five mini-meals throughout the day.

In order to burn those calories faster than they are consumed, an exercise program consisting of interval cardio training burns the most fat. Weight training builds the most muscle and also keeps the metabolism going.

Even armed with all this knowledge, I can hardly resist the freshly baked cranberry yogurt cookies on my stovetop, or the bag of yogurt crème-filled Hershey’s kisses on my night stand. When I go to a restaurant, it pains me to pay as much for a large salad as it does for a nice juicy burger or pasta entree. So, I usually order the latter.

I love to exercise. Once I can schedule a time, and make myself go to a gym or other venue, I usually enjoy it. Somehow, that’s not enough motivation to get out of bed prior to getting ready for work, leave work early, or drag my kids along with me.

There was a sign on the Y bulletin board, that said, “Discipline is Knowing What You Want.” Apparently I’m not sure what I want yet. But I’ve started taking baby steps. I’m trying to eat less, and only when I’m really hungry, not just bored, upset, or when food is available. I’m trying to eat slowly, and really enjoy the smells, flavors, and textures. I’ve exercised in some way everyday for the last week, including three sessions in the weight room.

It may be months before there’s any noticeable progress. At this point, at least I’m taking a step in the right direction. Now, why are these Sno-Caps looking at me?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Roller Coaster Part 2

Continued from 4/18 post…

With alarm, Wendy noticed the two boys walking her direction. She could not be seen like this, almost out of control. Despite the downpour she began walking toward the parking lot. As soon as she passed the front gate, she broke into a jog, then a run. She began sprinting toward the “A9” mounted on a pole that designated her parking area. She didn’t see other people, or cars, as tears blurred her vision and mixed in with the rain, washing over her face.

She jammed the key into the lock, swung open the door to her red Corolla, and sat quickly, slamming the door. She swallowed and blinked, trying to regain control, but then crumpled. The sobs came out loudly now, and she pounded her steering wheel.

“Why daddy, why?” she screamed. She had called in sick at work that day, not able to face anyone. She tried to escape the inner turmoil by going to the park, but it had caught up with her.

The cancer was supposed to be gone. When he was diagnosed the first time, both her parents made light of it. “Daddy’s just sick. He has to have an operation to take out the stuff that’s making him sick, and he’ll be all better.” She was a child then, and didn’t know the gravity of the diagnosis. After all, he did get better. He had been in remission for eight years now.

Then he started coughing. He would cough and cough, even through the night. Wendy remembered walking in on him after a coughing fit, rinsing blood down the sink. She had been alarmed. “Dad! You have to see a doctor! This could be serious!” When he acted unconcerned, she screamed at him for being selfish and slammed the bathroom door on him.

When her dad finally made it to the doctor, the doctor admitted him directly to the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia. Yesterday, her mother had come home from visiting at the hospital, looking worn and haggard. “What’s wrong?” Wendy had asked, as a knot began to form in her stomach.

Wendy’s mom had sat beside her on the couch. “It’s your dad, sweetheart. He… the doctor said the cancer’s back. It’s in his lungs.” Her mom broke down, then, and tried to go on, but couldn’t.

Wendy frowned. “So they’ll do surgery, right, Mom? Or maybe some chemo or radiation? He’ll be fine, right? Just like last time.”

Something in her mother’s face told her he wasn’t going to be fine. After a deep breath, her mother spoke again. “It’s spread. It’s… maybe four months. That’s all the doctor says he has left.”

Wendy hadn’t slept well last night. When she did, she had horrible dreams of wandering through a dark labyrinth, looking for a way out, her cries for help echoing back mockingly at her.

To be continued next week…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Until Death?

I’ve been invited to three weddings this summer. Three couples are making the last arrangements as they prepare to start new lives together as husbands and wives.

Will any of them use the traditional wedding vows?

“I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

When they take those vows, will they mean them? Statistics say they have about a 50-50 chance of staying together. Will they make it?

It seems lately I’ve been inundated with the subject of divorce. It may be one of those things that seems like it’s everywhere once you start paying attention. It started when I found out an acquaintance was “looking for a lawyer.”

The next day, old sitcom reruns on TV played on the divorce theme. In one episode of “Still Standing,” two teens bet on how soon their aunt’s marriage is going to end. On “Reba,” the title character’s ex is facing the possibility of a second divorce.

During a trip to Borders bookstore, I noticed there were more books about how to get a divorce than how to keep a marriage together. It seems our culture almost promotes divorce, rather than guarding the sanctity of marriage.

I’m not an advocate of divorce. I do know several wonderful people who have been divorced, and don’t claim to know enough about any of their situations to disagree with the decisions they’ve made. I do worry about people who are currently married and look to divorce as an immediate solution, rather than as a last resort.

I think most people want the ideal in marriage, the love relationship that lasts forever, two people who grow old together. I don’t know what changes from the moment two people walk down the aisle together to the point they cannot live together.

Like Reba said on her show, “If there’s a chance a marriage can be saved, you should try to save it.” I’ve been married 13 years. It’s not always been easy, or fun, or happy. I do have a husband who has been willing to grow with me, and has committed to stay with me. I don’t claim special luck or gifts to keep a marriage together, and there’s no guarantee it will last forever.

However, my husband and I have decided that divorce is not an option. We’re stuck with each other, “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health… until death do us part.” Except for the richer and the death part, we’ve been there. Like two people stuck on a reality TV show, we know we’re going to be together for an indeterminate amount of time, so we choose to make the best of it, and work toward the best relationship possible.

So far, so good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sweet Spring

I love Spring. I feel like I can finally say that, now that there’s no snow in the immediate forecast and tomorrow’s prediction is calling for temperatures in the 80s.

I had ice cream yesterday for the first time in several weeks. Ice cream is the ultimate warm weather food. I thoroughly enjoyed a cold, creamy, rich combination of flavors that melted on my tongue and refreshed me from the inside out.

As I was driving home from a meeting last night, I thanked God for the smell of freshly mown grass. I know God didn’t create the mower, but that sweet, earthly smell that follows in its path is straight from heaven.

The fountain outside my office is working now. The sound of running, bubbling water flowing over stone and growing green things plays a unique little melody. It has a calming effect, even at the start of the day.

Mr. Robin said hello to me this afternoon as I pulled into the parking lot after lunch. He didn’t actually talk. He looked at me, as if proud of his status as the harbinger of Spring. He winked, let me his admire his red belly, and flew away.

As I left work today, the sun kissed my face, warming my skin with the promise of new days. A breeze tousled my hair, like a mischievous pixie wanting to play. The sky stretched out wide and blue and seemed to go on forever.

Most of all, I love the promise of Spring. I love buds appearing on the trees, and grass growing greener. I love little purple, pink, yellow, and red flowers starting to show their faces. I love the fact some deranged bird is trying to build a nest on one of the outdoor lights outside my garage. I love the feeling in the air that anything is possible, and everyone gets a fresh start.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Surprise!

“I promise I’ll get you something on your day!” the receptionist called out after me as I left work for the day. It was her way of thanking me for the candy I’d given her for Administrative Professionals Day. I laughed. “There’s no such thing!” Nurses, Aides, Social Workers… they all have special appreciation days and weeks. I wished I could have a day to be treated special.

I drove to the YMCA where I’d agree to meet my friend and workout partner who I’ll call Michele. We did the treadmill for awhile and then headed to the weight room. I was just finishing up on my tenth machine when she asked me, “How much more do you want to do?”

That was strange. Michele wasn’t the type of person to be in a hurry. In fact, she tends to be over-accommodating “About 15 minutes,” I guessed.

After we finished working our hip abductors and adductors, we headed to the locker room. I had come straight from work, so I had to pick up my bag. “You’ll want to change your clothes, trust me.” She said. I frowned. Was there a rip in my shorts? Sweat stains on my shirt? Or did I just smell bad?

After we changed clothes, Michele said, “Let’s just leave your car here. I’ll drive. Or you can drive. I better drive. We can get your car later.” Our children attend the same child care, so that wasn’t too unusual. Maybe she just wanted to talk.

We drove, right past the usual route home. I wondered if she thought my car was at work. That didn’t make sense. After another couple miles, I asked, “Where are you going?”

Michele’s answer was noncommittal. She was laughing now. “I wondered how long it would take you,” she said. “Well, I’ve never been kidnapped before,” I responded.

We were heading east, out of town. I wondered who else was behind this scheme, and if it had anything to do with my upcoming birthday. I also wondered where on earth I was going and if I was going to back in time for my 7:00 meeting.

Michele finally turned into a shopping center, and pulled in to Cold Stone Creamery beside a familiar van. My husband was there, with my kids and Michele’s daughter. He had picked them all up from child care.

My children had made birthday cards for me and brought out a few gifts. It was my own little surprise birthday party! My husband had printed out a birthday coupon for a free treat. They gave me a Hoops and Yoyo card. “Don’t look! You’re not ready for this yet! Happy way-far-from-over-the-hill Birthday!” it read.

I ordered a “Like It” version of “Mud Pie Mojo” a fantastic creation of coffee ice cream, peanut butter, oreos, and other goodies. It was worth every calorie I had previously burned on the treadmill.

I never would have guessed my husband and friend would gang up on me to plan this little get-together for my birthday, two days before the actual event. I guess I got my special day after all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dealing with It

A friend of mine was going through a hard time dealing with a personal loss. “I’m so angry at God,” she said. “How could He let this happen?'”

I didn’t have any simple answers for her. I don’t have any special insight into why God chooses to intervene in the lives of people at certain times, and then chooses to refrain from interceding at other times. His ways are not my ways.

I did tell her was that it’s perfectly acceptable to be angry at God. Anger is a human emotion. We all experience it.

Do you ever remember getting mad at someone when you were a kid, and you said, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore,” or “I hate you.” You didn’t mean it, you were just so angry. It was the only way you knew how to express yourself.

Maybe you’ve had the privilege of having your own child yell or scream at you and tell you “You’re the worst mom (or dad) in the world! I hate you!”

Unless you were angry too, you probably took the words with a grain of salt. You knew he was angry, and you didn’t take it personally. You allowed him to direct his ranting at you, because you could take it. You were, in more ways than one, the bigger person.

I envision a particular scene, probably from a movie I’ve seen, of a child, hysterical with grief, beating on the barrel-like chest of her father, taking out her frustration and grief on him, because he’s there. He stands there and takes it, and when she breaks down crying, he kneels down, folds her into his arms and just holds her. He speaks soothing words to her, and eventually she finds solace in his presence.

Anger is a part of the grief process. I see God as that big, strong man who isn’t responsible for your grief, but is willing to let you take it out on Him anyway. He’s big enough and strong enough to take all the pounding, accusing, yelling and screaming that you need to release onto Him. When sadness overtakes you, He’ll be there to hold you and tell you how much He loves you.

There is no shame in anger. There is no right way to grieve. Only time can heal all wounds, and even then the scars may remain. He will listen. He has scars too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What’s Eating You?

It was a rotten morning. I arrived at work late. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, a nurse administrator approached me, angry, asking what I knew about an email she had received from corporate. I was caught in the middle and I still had to get my Monday morning report done before the 8:30 meeting.

From there I got about half a dozen calls from people who needed something from me right away, and I still had catching up to do from the week before. I was physically tired, emotionally spent, and in a depressed mood. It was only 10 AM.

As I tried to gear up to meet with a case worker, I realized I was not my usual self. I didn’t want to be nice and I didn’t want to make small talk. The bright spot was a young man in street clothes who held a door for me. That little bit of kindness was like a ray of sunshine slicing through the clouds of my dark mood.

On my way back to the office from the hospital, I caught a snippet of Insight for Living on WFRN. Chuck Swindoll was talking about forgiveness. He was talking about how holding onto the anger and resentment from past hurts prevents you from having a kind heart toward others.

I had never thought about that before. What resentment was I holding onto that was preventing me from wanting to be considerate to others? As I went over the morning’s events at work, I could think of a few people who had frustrated me, and instead of addressing it, I had held onto that anger.

Dr. Swindoll went on to quote from the book Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC by Frederick Buechner. In his book, Buechner states that anger is the most delicious of the 7 deadly sins. We relish our hurts, lick our wounds, and fantasize about avenging ourselves on the ones who cause pain. We enjoy every morsel as we devour the memories of that pain and the privilege of our victimhood.

When we finish our feasting we realize that the skeleton that we’ve picked apart with delight is our own, and we have destroyed ourselves in the process.

If that image doesn’t make you ready to rid yourself of all your grudges, I don’t know what will. As I thought about my frustrations, I realized nothing would be gained by confronting anyone. I was going to have to forgive and let go.

By resenting each interruption in my day, I had gotten to the point where I didn’t care about others. I didn’t take the time to greet others or ask how they were doing. I was too worried about my own problems.

My day didn’t get any easier. When I left the office, however, I left everything at the door. After an all-day rain, a ray of sunshine invaded the oppressive layer of clouds for a moment, and I felt like God was clearing away the darkness in my heart. I felt human again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Heart Song

“…and let the music we sing be the song of our hearts.” I don’t remember the exact words our choir director used, but in a brief moment of prayer before our Easter cantata, I realized why I sing in the choir.

I’ve always loved to sing. Most kids do, I think. In my early years I was drawn to music, although it wasn’t a large part of my life. I didn’t study it or read a lot about it, although I did learn about Beethoven from Schroeder of the Peanuts comic. I learned song lyrics, although I rarely knew who sang what or what album it came from. Imagine my mom’s surprise when I came home from a sleep-over at nine years old singing, “Like a Virgin.”

On the other hand, nothing seems to resonate with me more emotionally and spiritually than a song. There’s something about music that penetrates all defenses and makes its way to the very soul of a person.

So I’ve always sang in the choir. I always wanted to be a part of making beautiful music, to take apart the notes, rhythms, and dynamics and then put them together with melodies and harmonies and worship God with my voice.

I’m not very good. I heard a recording of myself as a child singing Silent Night. It was pretty awful. I apparently don’t have a natural talent for hearing or matching pitches. I used to sing solos in the children’s choir, probably because I was one of the few kids who liked being on stage and wasn’t afraid to sing by myself.

After 20 years in church choirs, I’ve realized that my ability is minimal compared to those around me. If I had a modicum of talent, I’d probably be asked to sing a solo or something once in a while. Sometimes it hurts a little that I’m not asked. I want to be special too. As hard as it is to accept, I just don’t have that gift. I know it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t wish for it.

So, even though I only have a nice voice, I still sing. It’s ironic that my high school voice teacher was in attendance at our cantata today. I’m still using my diaphragm and opening my throat and enunciating each consonant, just as I’ve been taught. When I sing, I get all the mechanics down and concentrate on the words and meaning behind the song. When I sing a song in worship, I let the words and music penetrate my heart before they come through my lips.

That’s why I continue to sing… to give my heart a voice.

.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roller Coaster Ride

Wendy slid into the green striped vinyl seat. She pulled the foam padded safety bar over her head. She sunk into the torn seat as if it were a luxurious velvet cushion. She was home.

She didn’t hear the chatter of the ride operator. She was in her own world. The car lurched forward, and her stomach fluttered in anticipation. She let out a gasp of air rather than join the screams of the passengers behind her as the coaster raced downhill.

Wendy closed her eyes and leaned back, enjoying every move and turn of the giant monster, feeling the wind blast the hair from her face. She opened her eyes, taking in the ground above her at the precise moment the car reached the zenith of the biggest loop.

All too soon the ride was over, and the coaster slowed to a stop. She was reluctant to leave her haven. The operator shot her an irritated look. She returned with a withering look of her own, and slowly stepped out of the car. She imperceptibly dragged her feet in an act of petulance, then straightened up at the sight of two tanned teenage boys waiting in line.

Wendy shot the boys a flirtatious smile, and turned and walked down the stairs with a little sway to her hips. She knew she was being watched, and enjoyed the influence she had. As she came to the very last stair, the sun went behind a cloud, and she felt it. An impending sense of despair threatened to consume her. She threw her shoulders back and walked quickly away, hoping to leave the feeling behind.

She needed another fix, and quickly. She looked around the park. The lines were so incredibly long in the summer. She headed to the slingshot. It was an incredible ride that felt almost like free-falling. As she hurried to get in line, she felt a drop of water on her nose.

The rain started to fall, and with dismay Wendy noticed a bright streak of lightening fork through the darkening sky. One by one, her favorite thrill rides stopped running, and the crowds dissipated. Her powerlessness over the weather reflected her own feelings of helplessness.

She sought shelter at the nearest food stand. Suddenly, without warning, the loss of her plans dissolved into the loss that was her life. An uncontrolled sadness began to well up inside her and tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.

To be continued next week…

Friday, April 17, 2009

Prejudice-Free?

I don’t have prejudices. I see all people as the same- without distinction in their color, gender, or religion.

Yeah, right. Is that even possible? My entire life I’ve been influenced by friends, family, television, magazines, and an entire culture. Beyond whatever I want to believe or think, there are constant voices whispering in my ear from a thousand directions to influence me otherwise.

All I can do is act on what I know is right, and true, and fair. Even when I’m the one being discriminated against.

“You the one who put us all in the dirtiest, greasiest jobs out there,” he said. Our newest nursing home resident was accusing me personally of relegating his entire race to the worst jobs available at the time he earned a living in a factory. I was speechless. What do you say to something like that?

“You been white all your life, ain’t you?” he asked.

“Afraid so,” I said, trying to make light of the situation. It really was a silly question. “That’s kinda beyond my control.”

I knew this gentleman was eccentric anyway. He had refused to sign anything without his friend the pastor standing nearby, giving the okay. I had no reason to put any stock in anything he said or did. Yet, it still hurt. It hurt to know someone would put me in a box and write me off, just due to the color of my skin, something that is simply the result of my parents’ genetic code.

I know I have prejudices. I’m not proud of them. I study the Bible to learn more about a God who creates value in all people, and creates them different for a reason. I want to discover more about the people I meet everyday. I want to know why they are who they are, and all the facets that make them up. I may discover things I don’t understand or agree with, but that just helps me to grow more.

I’m just me. I can’t change what I was born with, but I can choose to grow into the unique purpose He’s designed for me. That’s all anyone can do.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Retirement from Life

What is it like to pack up some cards, balloons, and the last items from your desk, and walk away from a career of 35 years to a wide open field of possibilities called “retirement?”

Wow. I’m not even 35 years old yet.

My supervisor had her official last day today. She’s well into the traditional retirement age, and more than deserves some time to garden, travel, or do whatever her heart desires.

What is it like to wake up on Monday morning and not have to be anywhere? What is it like to wake up without a schedule or itinerary in mind? What is it like to turn off the alarm and ignore the weather channel? What is it like to go out late on a weeknight with no repercussions? What is it like to take off on a whim to visit a friend or relative on the other side of the country?

Retirement is hard for some people, especially men. If you are defined by what you do, who are you when you aren’t working? On the other hand, I’ve noticed that no one in the Optimist Club has had a problem adjusting to a retirement lifestyle. Maybe that’s because they’re optimists!

I know my supervisor (oops, former supervisor) will not be one to take retirement lying down. She will be cultivating a beautiful flower garden, decorating her house, reading exciting novels, volunteering for her church and other organizations, and probably selling her dynamite wardrobe to some working women’s museum.

We are not defined by what we do for a living. We get to discover and define who we are at each stage of our life. I have so many hopes and dreams for my children. One wants to be a doctor, and the other wants to be a scientist. Of course, they also want to be, at various times: artists, rock stars, super heroes, teachers, actors, fashion designers, and architects. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be able to do it all in their lifetimes. I’m not going to tell them otherwise.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stylin’ with the Students

“I can’t be late today,” I reminded myself. My normal routine is to give myself double the time to get to work, and arrive within a general time frame. I grabbed a container of yogurt, my glasses, my Puffs, my purse, and headed out the door.

As I pulled out of the driveway, I sighed. What was I thinking? I do so little to make myself presentable, and I was about to entrust my quarterly salon appointment to a teenager? Would I have time to run home and fix it after? Would I have time to run to another stylist?

I pulled into the lot at the career center. Ten minutes to spare. I could see students inside the salon already. I walked in.

In the tiny waiting area, three gray-haired ladies chatted quietly while students flitted from task to task. I signed in. How long would I have to wait? I flipped through a style book, wondering again what I was thinking.

A tall bespectacled girl with her braided hair pulled back in a ponytail gestured for me to follow. It looked like a typical salon, except for the paper cut-out nametags taped to each station. I filled out the paperwork which include a release of liability. Yikes!

As she took out her color chart to match my hair color, I emphasized I wanted subtle, partial highlights. I figured if I asked for less and got a little more, I’d be safe. Her instructor helped her choose a safe, caramel color to highlight my dark brown hair. The process was a little slow, and the instructor checked her every step of the way.

I started to feel a little more comfortable. I watched other students work with clients, and noticed their sometimes awkward, yet sincere attempts at professionalism. I also heard other students screaming, laughing, and discussing music preferences at other times. I watched one student come in, put in her contacts, then apply her makeup at her station. Another student needed a new uniform, unless she liked showing off her pink cotton panties with the colored hearts.

The color turned out very nice, although I had not expected there to be as much of it. The layered, tapered cut I requested was apparently a little more complicated than the stylist was used to, and the instructor did the right half to demonstrate. She also demonstrated the use of the razor tool, which I found quite interesting.

I had hoped to dash out the door in an hour and a half. It turns out a good education takes time. After being asked by the instructor, I couldn’t deny the student the opportunity to dry and style my hair. She moussed it up and used a flat iron, creating a sleek, sophisticated look. I was very impressed and felt just like I did after leaving any other salon. I was never going to be able to duplicate it.

I paid a pittance for the professional job and left feeling pretty good about myself. I realized I had been the curriculum for one particular student that morning. So what if I was really late for work? It was worth every minute.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

If We Don’t, …Who Will?

When someone asks me what I do for a living, I’m a little embarrassed. I’m a director of admissions at a nursing home, but as soon as I say, “nursing home” most people either wrinkle their nose and change the subject, or go on about how they admire people who work in nursing homes because they couldn’t do it.

Nursing homes aren’t dark, smelly places where old people go to die, in case that’s what you were thinking. Our facility has wide hallways, large courtyards, and lots of windows. It doesn’t smell any more than anyone else’s home. We have all kinds of wonderful people who live and work there.

We have former factory workers, homemakers, salespeople, writers, bookkeepers, artists, farmers, and everything in between. Each person has a story, if you take the time to listen.

One of our restorative aides gave me a poem today that reminded me how special the caregivers for the elderly are:

If We Don’t… Hold their hands, Dry their tears, Try to calm their fears ...Who Will?

If We Don't... Ease their pain, Take their side, Go along for the ride ...Who Will?

If We Don't... Show compassion, Be a friend All the way to the end ...Who Will?

If We Don't... Soften our heart, Open our hand, And try to understand ...Who Will?

If We Don't... Provide dignity, Show respect, Seek to abolish neglect ...Who Will?

-by Susan Ryan

God bless everyone who works with the elderly, the infirm, the injured and the disabled. Thank you for taking time to truly see the people you serve everyday. You are an inspiration.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On the Cold Front

It was just a tickle Thursday night. I thought it would go away. By Saturday morning my nose had started to run, and by Saturday afternoon I was miserable. It was the invasion of the common cold.

Isn’t it strange how sickness affects every part of your daily life? I can’t breathe or smell or taste. I have no appetite and eating is a chore. So is talking, even if my voice has a Kathleen Turner edge. I’m trying to sing during choir rehearsals, but I feel bad for the people sitting next to me who have to listen. Between my clogged ears and rough voice, it must sound terrible.

My nose is literally the color of my red “Santa’s Favorite Brunette” T-shirt. My Puffs are gone, and I’ve been using A&D ointment on my nose. I’ve also been taking extra vitamins, zinc, antihistamine, decongestant, and acetaminophen, in various forms, as well as drinking tons of water and tea and juice (and visiting the restroom frequently).

Almost my entire life for the past three days has revolved around nursing this cold. Before it arrived, I didn’t think about breathing- I just did it. I ate food because I was hungry, and it tasted good. I smiled and laughed with other people without worrying about infecting them. I lived without delving into my medicine cabinet every 4 to 6 hours.

I didn’t appreciate the ability to live a “normal” life until I lost the everyday abilities we take for granted. Now I look forward to breathing through my nose and having a clear head. I look forward to waking from a good night’s sleep without reaching for a tissue. I look forward to engaging in life again.

Sometimes when we lose things we used to take for granted, we don’t get them back. I’m planning on attending a visitation tomorrow for my friend’s dad. I hope his friends and family appreciated him during his lifetime. The hardest thing to do is try to tell someone “I love you” or “Thank you” after they’re no longer on this earth.

Tell someone you appreciate him or her today. Show gratitude for the things you have, the abilities you possess, and the people in your life. In the words of Chicago, “You don't know what ya got until it's gone.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Was it a Morning Like This?

As the sun rises here in Indiana, I want to share my favorite Easter song by Sandy Patti.

Was it a morning like this
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem?
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead.

What is a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem?
And two angels stood at the tomb,
Bearers of news she would hear soon.

Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice
To feel You again?
Over and over like a
Trumpet underground,
Did the earth seem to pound:
“He is risen!”

Over and over
In a never ending round
“He is risen, alleluia, alleluia!”

Was it a morning like this
When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem?
And as they raced for the tomb,
Beneath their feet was there a tune?

Was it a morning like this
When my Lord looked out
On Jerusalem?

He is risen, alleluia, alleluia!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter for Real

I was pulling into my driveway, just returning from a last minute shopping trip. I still didn’t have all the ingredients I needed to make a broccoli salad for Easter dinner and I had picked up some Puffs, decongestant and Vitamin Water to treat my nasty cold. It occurred to me, in bailing on most of my plans to go into a Benadryl-induced coma, I wasn’t going to have time to buy an Easter outfit or got a haircut before Sunday morning.

I felt like such a loser. What kind of Easter was this going to be, anyway? I hadn’t made time to color eggs or buy Easter outfits for my kids prior to our Spring break trip. I hadn’t participated with Lent, Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday services. Our choir cantata was taking place the next weekend, since part of the choir was gone on vacations as well. The color of my nose would suggest celebrating another holiday as a certain reindeer. My kids weren’t even going to be home until the wee hours of the morning. Just another Sunday, I guess.

As I began to prepare for the high school class Sunday school lesson, I began to realize how silly I was being. Easter is not about the outfits, or the eggs, or special services. Easter is a celebration of the single greatest event in Christian history. Easter is about new life, hope, and the triumph of light over darkness.

Jesus’ work on the cross paid the debt for our sins. His resurrection proved that He had dominion over death, that His sacrifice was voluntary. Life triumphed that day, when the stone rolled away, opening what man had tried to seal up and forget.

The story of Easter is forever about hope. Seeing Jesus die on the cross, His disciples felt crushed and abandoned. They didn’t know that for Jesus, death is only temporary. They didn’t know He was merely taking care of some spiritual business. In the same way, no matter how dark our circumstances, even when there’s no light in sight, God has the power to redeem, to provide comfort and bring light into our souls. He is the God who sees, and the God who provides.

This Easter, I’m going to dress my best in an old dress. I’m going to take my medication and drink lots of liquids. I’m going to sing about Christ being risen. I’m going to teach about the significance of the resurrection. I’m going to eat ham, sweet potatoes, and broccoli salad. I’m going to celebrate life with my friends and family, including seven nieces and nephews. I’m going to remember the hope embodied in a Person who overcame the grave.

Happy Easter!

Good Friday

A lot of people don’t know why today is called “Good Friday.” After all, a man died a horrible, gruesome death. What’s so good about that?

“Good” doesn’t seem adequate to describe the magnitude of the act demonstrated on the cross. One God/man took on the entire pandemic of sin, from Adam until the end of time, upon his shoulders. He accepted the penalty of death in the most humiliating and painful way possible. Such powerful act should be described as “great,” “wonderful,” or “awesome,” not merely “good.”

Jesus’ act was good, though, in a purely moral sense. He took the punishment we deserved upon Himself. He laid down His life so we might have eternal life.

It’s hard to think about the suffering He had to endure for me to be saved from my sins. I wasn’t even able to watch “The Passion” for two years after it was released, because it was hard to conceive that level of commitment under those circumstances. The song, “Feel the Nails” by Ray Boltz haunts me especially this time of year:

Does He still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Does He hear the crowd cry
“Crucify” again?
Am I causing Him pain?
Then I know I’ve got to change.
I just can’t bear the thought
Of hurting Him.

Oh, Easter’s coming. There will be time for celebrations, cantatas, brunches, and Easter egg hunts. But for today, I want to just give some quiet thanks for the sacrifice Christ made, to reconcile me to my God, and allow for a full and abundant life, forever and ever, amen.

Thanks Jesus.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Creative Complaints

Bright blank computer screen

Empty, used-up head

Vacated for vacation

Should be tucked in bed


Full, bloated belly

Too much Italian for me

Need room for dessert

Wasn’t meant to be


Not jet lag but van lag

One hundred forty-six miles

A measly two-hour meeting

Rather count ceiling tiles


Itchy t-neck sweater

Makes me look like a tent

Too pretty to trash it

Giver may wonder where it went


Contacts stuck to eyeballs

Need to use some drops

Wishing to afford Lasik

Then I’d make all the stops


Throat dry as a desert

Water only six steps away

Breath smells like garlic

Toothbrush in travel bag today


Love everybody with my big heart

Love them down to my soles

Wish I could give some more

Like a job or nice new Rolls


Time to call it a night

Ready to relax and de-stress

Try to let it go without a fight

I’m uninspired, I confess

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Positive Detour

Driving toward Indianapolis’ southeast side, there were multiple warnings, via both signage and radio reports, that construction and accident clean-up were ahead of us on I-465. On top of that, the impending rush hour led my husband and me to believe there was a good chance we’d get stuck or at least slowed by an onslaught of traffic.

Even with adequate warning, with no GPS, map, and little Indianapolis driving experience, we had no idea what alternate route we could take to avoid the impending doom that awaited us. Add to that two geographically and directionally challenged individuals, and we really had little choice but to forge ahead.

I wished my sister were with us. She lived in Indy for awhile and seemed to remember every route she’d ever taken to get anywhere. She could have told us exactly which exit to take to lead to the correct road to take us on the shortest route possible.

I wonder how many people continue traveling in the same direction in life because they don’t have the proper tools or resources to find an alternate route.

As a mentor for Soup of Success, a job and life skills training program for women, I’ve seen what a difference some new tools and a few supportive people can provide for people who seem stuck where they are in life. They come out of the program with a life plan, or map, and a better idea of how to get to where they want to go. They also have a team of people in their corner to provide support, encouragement, and direction along the way.

We lucked out on our trip, but some folks don’t get so lucky in life. It’s important to remember that life is full of choices, and we each have been given the ability and power to make choices to drive our lives in the right direction. Whatever we lack to make informed choices can be provided by people around us.

Congratulations to Soup of Success, class of ‘09. I expect great things from you!

http://www.soupofsuccess.com/

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Horton on Vacation

It’s quiet. My entire family fell asleep within minutes of hitting their pillows. I guess five hours of water play, a sophisticated scavenger hunt, animatronic story-time, and a full-length movie will do that to you.

Why is it when you just start getting into the groove of vacation- do what you want, when you want, all at a leisurely pace- you have to pack up and look forward to the next break?

When I went on vacation as a kid, there were not many choices. Dad decided when we were leaving, and Mom decided what we could pack. On the way, it didn’t matter if you were hot, hungry, thirsty, or your bladder was ready to explode, we would stop when Dad was ready, which usually meant when the gas tank was near empty. Once we arrived, we weren’t able to go anywhere without adult supervision. Our parents determined when and where we would eat and shop.

I am not complaining about our vacations. Our beach vacations were some of the best memories of my childhood. My husband and I have just chosen a different route with our children.

Of course, this is the first family vacation we’ve had since they were very small. At 6 and 8 years old, they are fairly responsible, well-behaved children.

We’ve decided to allow our children to choose some of the non-essential parts of the trip. We do get the final say when it’s requested we visit McDonalds, AGAIN. Since we’re staying at a resort, though, there are a lot of activities to choose from, and naturally all of them cost money. So they’ve had to weigh the options and decide what matters to them most, and how much time they want to spend in each activity.

We’ve split up at times when each child wants different things. (That’s why we only have two children- so we’re not outnumbered.) We’ve taken turns spending time with the kids, so we each have a little “me time.” I’ve been able to read, write, and even hit the fitness center. Then there’s times we all get in our swimwear and stand in an awfully long line and head down a giant water chute in an oversized inner-tube. That’s quality family time right there.

We do have to set boundaries as to the type of decisions our kids are responsible for, and let them know when it’s time to do what they’re told. But we give our kids the opportunity to make more choices so that they feel empowered to make decisions and solve problems. After all, according to Horton, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Enjoy the Journey

I dragged myself out of bed this morning, with a checklist in mind: fold last load of clothes, check the weather, finalize directions, get reservation confirmation, pack snacks…

I’m not good with frustration, especially when I know exactly how I want something done. This morning seemed to be one frustration after another.

I did figure out that if I take some meclizine before I travel, I can read in the car and not get car sick. This was a great first for me, allowing me to pore over Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” while my husband drove and my kids alternated between being hungry, thirsty, and bored.

As I read, I had this vague notion of missing out on the landscape and landmarks we drove by, but was too engrossed in the rise and fall of Sesame Street to care.

It was around Decatur, Indiana, that I had to finally put my book down. There was a restaurant that resembled a railway car. An insurance business was housed in a large white castle. An auto repair shop was painted a brilliant purple.

“I wish you’d put your book down,” my husband said. “You’re missing a lot of things along the way.”

Unfortunately, that’s the way I tend to live my life. I am so focused on my own goals and plans that I forget to enjoy the journey along the way. I am sure I am missing a lot of things. My kids are growing up so fast. They’re both in school now. My daughter can now do things that I can’t, like knit and sing on pitch.

It has been so hard for me to be in the moment today. My kids are ecstatic, playing in a giant indoor waterpark. I’ve been struggling to keep an eye on them, but not quite willing to get involved with their play. After all, water is wet, and sometimes cold. I might have to climb, and interact with other kids, and maybe even enjoy myself. It seems so silly that I’ve acted as if only the kids should be allowed that privilege.

Assuming I get over this “traveler’s sickness” (you don’t want to know), I am going to do better tomorrow. I am going to take a risk and do things that feel silly and childish, and I might even have some fun along the way. I’m going to start enjoying the journey. I don’t want to miss any more.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Vacation from Vacation

I spent all last week at work frantically tying up all the loose ends. By 5:00 on Friday I finally felt like I had input all the data, made all my phone calls, put copies in the appropriate mailboxes, and programmed a special message to anyone sending me an email over the next five days.

I spent the majority of the weekend with my family, doing umpteen loads of laundry, packing, tidying up the house, and making travel plans. We had already made reservations at the hotel. We mapped out our route. We started to pack some food for the road.

Now my husband and I are debating departure times. I should be happy he doesn’t want to leave at 3 or 4 in the morning, which is his usual modus operandi. I know he’d like to catch the Reds game, but I don’t know… I’d be okay with waiting until 11, since we can’t check into the motel until 4:00.

I’m planning to take my laptop and a few books… I never get extended time to focus on my writing. I know it’s a vacation, and I’ll enjoy time with my family, but I look forward to just a little “me” time.

I’m sure our car ride will be fun-filled. I’m sure the cherubic children won’t be fighting, complaining, or acting obnoxiously silly during the trip. I’m sure we won’t have any problems with construction, detours, or traffic on the way. I’m sure we won’t have any problems with our hotel room or reservations. I’m sure it will be a relaxing, fun, family time.

My husband and I will return home in a few short days, our children riding happily to their grandparents’ house. Even if it’s 7:00 at night we’ll probably crawl into bed, exhausted, leaving the unpacking to another time.

Then, bright and early the next morning, it’ll be off to a board meeting, follow by a quick check at the office and then an hour and a half drive for a three hour training session.

Sometimes I wonder if all the work getting ready for and recovering from a vacation are really worth it. I’ll let you know in a few days…

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What am I?

I have come to the conclusion that I am a human being.

It may seem strange to that after 30+ years I am finally figuring this out. But I am no ordinary human being.

I have lived under the presumption, inoculated in me at an early age, that I can do anything that I put my mind to. Which, over time, I’ve taken to mean that I can sleep less, eat less, exercise less, and communicate less than the average human being. I can take on school, work, family, and thirteen volunteer positions, without batting an eye. I am Super Mom!

I am also bleary-eyed, overweight, moody, stressed-out and overwhelmed. One might suggest the word, “balance.” Balance seems a lot like trying to walk a tightrope. I’m pretty sure I can’t do it, so why try?

Yet, I’m not sure I enjoy living like this. I have to drag myself out of bed, guzzle coffee out of necessity rather than enjoyment, bark at my children to get ready and at my husband to stay out of my way. I dread work (like most red-blooded Americans) but my ability to cope with stress or unexpected situations is completely shot. I get to where I don’t want to talk to anyone, don’t want to go out, don’t want to do anything except veg. All the people I am responsible to probably see me as a flake, because they don’t see the other sides of the dodecagon.

It’s time for change. Sleep is apparently a necessity, and not a luxury. Eating is intended to refuel and replenish the body, not to comfort me or fill my time. Exercise is actually very good for body and spirit, although neither has been strong enough to get me over to the gym in the last two weeks. I am practicing every night in front of the mirror: “No, I’m honored that you asked me, but I just can’t right now.”

So, I’m accepting the fact that I am human with human limitations and abilities. I’m realizing that this vessel I’m traveling in needs some tender loving care, or it’s going to make it even harder to get to where I want to go. In fact, it might even break down along the way. Time for some heavy duty maintenance!

Human, all this time. Who knew?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Violence Solution

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30030756/

Fourteen killed in Binghamton, New York. If you read the story, you have to ask yourself, what could cause a person to have so little regard for human life that he just starts shooting randomly at people? What intricate part of the human psyche gets broken to the point he believes this is an acceptable course of action?

I was just remarking to a friend that maybe it’s not so far fetched. At some point we’ve all objectified other people. We’ve made fun of someone with an odd appearance, or who walks a particular way. We’ve laughed at jokes based on stereotypes. We’ve dismissed someone as “one of those…” and assumed we knew his motives. We’ve made all kinds of remarks about the car in front of us or behind us, when we don’t think at all about the driver.

I’m reminded of a song that I cannot remember the artist, title, or exact lyrics. It talks about not knowing what the person beside us is going through. We may see a man on a bus with unruly kids and think he’s a terrible father, not knowing his wife is terminally ill in the hospital and he’s having a hard time dealing with it. We may yell at a man who’s driving ten miles under the speed limit on the highway, not realizing he’s a widower with no family nearby that is just trying to survive.

Let’s face it, we have to make quick judgments everyday in order to function. We have to decide who to mingle with in a professional situation. We have to decide if strangers in the nearby vicinity pose a threat. We have to decide whether to trust someone when we’re sharing our opinions or feelings.

Yet, we have to make a conscious effort to see people as individual people created by God. It’s when we drift from that notion that people become things, or even tools to use for our own benefit. Is it that far of a leap that someone would kill others, if they represent objects rather than living, breathing human beings with families, dreams, feelings, and life stories?

Jesus said that speaking in hatred to a close friend is equivalent to murder. It’s a destruction of the spirit rather than the body. We are called to value other people in the same way that God does. Maybe, if we treat each other with kindness, like those Liberty Mutual commercials, the world would be a better place. Maybe by adding a little love, we can counteract the hate and violence that seems to be rampant.

Love conquers fear (1 John 4:18). May God’s perfect love be evident in your life and keep you from all worry and fear. Make the world a better place.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Listen Up!

I walked into the last office, making my final delivery for Doctor’s Day. I walked into the small waiting room, and waited patiently for the receptionist to get off the phone.

“11:30. April 14th. 11:30. Tuesday. Tuesday. 11:30. 11:30. 11:30. Tuesday. April 14th. Yes, that’s right. No. 11:30. You’re appointment’s at 11:30. 11:30…”

I swear this went on for a full five minutes. I stifled a laugh. Obviously the gentleman on the other end was hard of hearing, and perhaps a little cognitively deficient. Even the smallest bit of information just wasn’t translating for him that day.

When the receptionist finally ended the call, she sighed and gave me an apologetic look. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“That’s okay,” I answered, flashing a sympathetic look and quickly handing over the carnation intended for the doctor.

In my line of work, you have to use some creative communication techniques at times. It is really hard to convey your meaning to someone who can’t hear the words you say.

I wonder how often God looks at us and says, “11:30. 11:30. 11:30.” I’m sure he wonders what it’s going to take to get through to us.

“I love you,” He says. We look to the opposite sex, to friends, to co-workers, to anyone to communicate to us we are worthy of love.

“I have a purpose for you,” He says. We look to our parents, our teachers, the media, our friends, to anyone who has an agenda to communicate to us that we matter.

“I want you to know joy,” He says. We look to TV, games, vacations, and anything that will provide a thrill to discover happiness.

“I want you to be free,” He says. We look to alcohol, drugs, TV, games, the internet, and anything that will provide an escape to provide freedom.

“You are Mine,” He says. We look to friends, family, co-workers, online chat groups, and anyone who will communicate to us that we belong.

I had to literally clean the wax out of my son’s ears tonight. When I said, “Oooh I almost hit that kitty,” he asked me why I would hit Cadie (my daughter).

So, if you can’t hear God’s words to you, it might be time to get rid of some spiritual ear wax. Get rid of any junk that comes between you and His words. It may be a certain kind of music, a website, or a TV show. It’s different for everyone.

And, Mr. Michaelson, if you are reading this, don’t forget your appointment. Tuesday. April 14th. 11:30.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It’s About Time

Time to take the leap. Time to stop trying to get people to notice me and my abilities and get out there. Time to send in some queries, and find some paying assignments. Time to see what I’m really made of.

Time to blog one more night because I don’t yet have a paying assignment. Time to try and figure out exactly which magazines or publications I would like to write for. Time to take my books back to the library.

Time to figure out how to balance life with dreams. Time to figure out the difference between social media networking, and playing on facebook. Time to decide how I really want to spend my time. Time to let some things go.

Time to take care of myself. Time to take a vacation. Time to figure out how to fit exercise into the picture. Time to watch what I eat. Time to get de-stressed. Time to figure out where these headaches are coming from. Time for a nap.

Time to focus. Time to get it done. Time to get all my ducks in a row. Time to get organized. Time to make sure everything is in place at the office. Time to make some arrangements. Time to be settled.

Time to research more. Time to read another how-to book. Time to make another list. Time to check out one more website. Time to check my e-mail again. Time to catch up on the news. Time to get educated.

Time to quit making excuses. Time to go for it. Time to lay it all on the line. Time to go confidently in the direction of my dreams. Time to make the step. Time to risk. Time to move forward. Time to let go. Time to make it real.

Time to say goodnight!