Saturday, December 31, 2005

Resolution Revolution

Help! I'm being attacked by the New Year's Resolution monster!!!

I'm desperately trying not to come up with 100 impossible resolutions that are doomed for failure on January 2. Or even 12:01 am on January 1. In fact, even the modest prospect of 2-3 resolutions make me tremble.

It's not that I'm against improvement of some sort...losing weight, exercising, being kind. It's just that I have a tendency to take things to the extreme and become very works oriented. Goals are not wrong, but for me they tend to cause me to wander from what's important.

There's a line in a song by Chris Rice that says "Teach us to count the days; teach us to make the days count." Somewhere inside my goal-oriented psyche I make the days count by how many items I can check off my list, how much I've accomplished. And there's no real satisfaction in that. And that is not what this song, "Life Means So Much", is about.

What counts, what is important is relationships - especially the one between me and my God and Creator. What counts is appreciating what Christ did for ME through His earthly birth, cruel death and miraculous resurrection. And I demonstrate my understanding of Christ's sacrifice by actively demonstrating His qualities to those around me.

And so, this year I'm starting a revolution against resolutions. I'm not making any. Sure, I'll try to eat healthy, remember my family's birthdays, pray more, etc but not because these are on a list, but because they're the right thing to do.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

At tonight's Christmas Eve service, the sermon was about how Jesus died FOR ME; that even if I were the only sinner, He still would have come and died FOR ME.

I don't understand this. I'm having trouble comprehending and personalizing this.

Since I was born, I've heard that Jesus died for sinners, but that makes me just one of billions. In my family, I know I'm loved, but I'm one of four children. I've never dated or been in any relationship, so the idea of being that special to someone is foreign to me.

So how am I supposed to learn and grasp this?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bah, Humbug!

My sister's mad at me for not planning on spending more time in Pittsburgh for the holidays. My dad's mad at me for not mailing some paperwork to my sister that she asked for 2 weeks ago. I'm batting .500 I still have a few days before Christmas to get my brother and my other sister mad at me. Then it will be the perfect holiday!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thought for the Day

"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory."
-Paul Fix

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Baby Jesus and Everything That Entailed

I distinctly remember the moment I understood (or more correctly began to understand) what it meant for Jesus to become man.

It was about this time of year in 1984 and I was watching the TV movie "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever". The (very) basic story line is this - there is a church that holds the same pagent every year. The same little (diva) girl has been Mary for a number of years; they've always used a live infant as baby Jesus...until this year.

A family of ne'er do well children decide they want to be in the pagent. The one sister threatens "Mary" in the rest room and so she concedes her coveted role to the little thug. Now the actress formerly "Mary" is merely a member of the heavenly host of angels.

Of course, the mothers of all the infants refuse to allow their babies to be handled by the thug so now Jesus has to be played by a doll.

Somewhere during the rehearsals, the little thug undergoes a transformation. She starts to understand her role as the mother of theChrist child. During the pagent, she picks up the (doll) baby Jesus, puts him to her shoulder and starts to gently pat his back, as any mother would. Little diva-girl snidely remarks to her other heavenly host of angels "Look at her; she's burping him like he has the colic!".

At this point I realized, He probably did have colic. God also had dirty diapers, had to eat strained peas, threw up on His mom and dad, was totally helpless and reliant on human beings for His everyday living. How humbling for the Almighty. And that was just the first year of His earthly life. He still had his toddler years ahead of Him - and puberty, adolescence, young adulthood. And with what to look forward to but death on the cross.

It would be sad to end on this note, but He also knew what lay beyond the humbling experiences and the suffering, too. Learning this part of His humanity helps me to understand what lies beyond, as well.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Today, I had a decent day at work. I got some long-term projects off my desk and did some planning of new projects. My boss was pleased with what I submitted. But what echoed in my mind was of a time long ago when I was in 7th grade. I was the head of my Girl Scout troop's camping group. But I was replaced (legitimately so, I might add) because I was not able to exhibit the leadership necessary to accomplish the task. Why is it that the echoes I hear are of criticisms I heard long ago, and not of compliments? Why don't the "Good job"s and "Atta girl"s repeat themselves? I can hear the reproaches all the time, but I have to re-earn the praise. I guess it's because I can't rest on my laurels, but I'm quite willing to rest on my failures. But I'd prefer to just rest, period.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A "Seinfeld" Post

Like "Seinfeld" this post is about nothing. I can't stand those Automatic Hand Dryer-blower things. They never do a good job. I shake and rub my hands under the stream of hot air only to find myself wiping my still wet hands on my pant legs. At this point, as good hygiene goes, I was probably better off not washing my hands at all. But yesterday, I found the POWER BLASTER or some similar name in the Ladies Room at Sheetz. The darned thing nearly blew the ring off my finger and my hands were dry in seconds! Another reason I highly recommend Sheetz. They also make great onion rings and pretty good nachos, too.

Friday, November 25, 2005

My Altar Ego

Today, I was the last person to leave the office. I was the last car in the parking lot as the evening got colder and darker. And of course, the parking lot is in a not-so-great part of town, located about 3 blocks from a prison pre-release center. I inserted the key in the ignition, the car started and died. I turned the key again and the same thing happened, and happened again, and happened again.

Rather than walk the dark parking lot back to the office, I figured it would be easier and safer to walk the half block to McDonald's and use the pay phone outside to call my brother. The phone ate my 50 cents - twice - without completing the calls. Therefore, I had to walk the 2 block back to the office through the cold dark night. Did I mention that I work a few blocks from a prison pre-release center? I called my brother who said he'd come down to help. I walked back to the car (remember - dark, cold night; prison pre-release center) to wait for him. It only took him about 25 minutes to get to me but during that time I struggled to not feel sorry for myself. Continue reading this post, to find out if I was successful in my struggle.

I feel most helpless, lonely and single when I have car troubles. I've done a pretty good job of taking care of myself all these years. I can cook, clean, mow grass, shovel snow, balance a checkbook, and even rewire a lamp. I own and know how to use some power tools. Professionally, I'm very good at what I do. Therefore, I feel I'm well within my rights to NOT have to know anything about cars.

It's not that I'm not capable of understanding the mechanics of an engine, I don't think I should have to know them. That's a man's job. And since there is no man in my life, I feel I've received the short end of the gear shift.

Calling anybody for help I feel I'm inconveniencing them. Actually, it's not just a feeling, but a fact - I AM inconveniencing them. Spouses have an expectation of being cared for; single friends and family members come second...or lower.

I was reading a blog post by Carolyn McCulley where she quoted her pastor, Joshua Harris as saying "A single woman should feel honored and cherished in this church whether or not she has a boyfriend." When I have to take care of car issues - repairs, oil changes, even scraping or brushing off the ice and snow - I don't feel cherished. And when I have to ask for help, I feel bothersome.

The logical answer to handling car problems would be to get a AAA membership and also make sure my cell phone is fully charged so I don't get in situations where I'm stranded alone in cold, dark parking lots. But I don't want to be logical. I spend too much of my days being logical, and always having to think and plan. I want to be cherished. I want to be #1 to someone. I want someone else to do the thinking, especially where cars are concerned.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Aladdin's Lamp

Despite knowing otherwise, I often find myself thinking that God is like Aladdin's genie - He's allotted me a limited number of answers to prayer. Then I worry that I've used up my allottment on petty things like "Please God, help me find my keys" or "Dear Lord, let me get a parking space close to the office" and so I'll never get any really BIG things. Like Aladdin and his genie, this thinking is fantasy. Described more appropriately, it's a big fat lie! Unfortunately, I tend to enjoy the fantasies. Aladdin may have only had three wishes, but he also only had to rub that magic lamp. He didn't have to wait long for his wish to be fullfilled. And therein lies the problem. I lack the patience. I lack the faith to wait. It doesn't take much faith to rub a lamp. You dont' really risk anything. And if anyone makes fun of you for doing something so childish as rub a lamp, you can always say you were just cleaning it not wishing on it. Prayer takes faith, and faith

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why I Blog - Part II

My life and many of my relationships are quite compartmentalized. There's my professional life, my family, friends, church, neighbors, and classmates, to name some. Although some of these relationships intersect (some friends and church, for instance) there are still lines drawn around many. Therefore, many of my conversations are compartmentalized, as well (except for my dogs - I speak about them to everyone...whether people want to hear or not). Here on my blog, I'm free to discuss whatever topic I want. I don't have to worry if people are interested in what I have to say. If they aren't interested in my thoughts, they don't have to read. Additionally, maybe this blog will open up some borders and develop deeper relationships. I might also develop new friends and acquaintances , should my audience grow.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Great Great-Niece

No I don't have a stutter. My great-niece really is great. Actually, according to her birth certificate, she's Best. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Writer's Block

WC Fields was right. Children and animals are distractions. And so to divert you from my current state of writer's block, may I present to you Dora (the black dog) and Grace (the white dog).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I Need a Hug

I have literally read hundreds of books, articles, blurbs and quotes about singleness and I never once recall any of those hundreds of thousands of words addressing an unmarried person’s need for physical affection. And by physical affection, I am not referring to sex. I’m referring to a friendly hug, a kiss on the cheek, a hand on my shoulder.

I don’t know if this is an issue for other single people and I also realize that this might be an issue for married persons, but I know it’s an issue for me. And I’m single. So that’s my point of reference.

I don’t come from an overly “huggy” family, but we don’t skimp on affection, either. However, my mother is dead and the rest of my (biological) family lives in other cities, so access to their hugs is limited. Therefore, I’m at the mercy of my church family - my sisters and even brothers in Christ for some outward display of tenderness and friendship. If it weren’t for all my little friends under the age of twelve, I could go months without feeling the touch of another human being. Unless, that is, you include handshakes with those I deal with professionally. Personally, I don’t think they count.

My nephew and his wife recently welcomed their first child. My favorite picture of my great-niece is one where she is only a few hours old, sleeping with her mother's bare arms wrapped around her bare back, her soft cheek resting on her mother's bare shoulder. There is a look of total relaxation in her tiny young face. I can imagine the comfort and security she is feeling with that skin to skin sensation. Until a few hours before, all she knew was a total physical connection to her mother, but now she'll only experience it when her mother chooses. (She need not worry, though. I think her mom choose it alot. But that's for another blog)

God created us as sensual beings - that is, referring to our senses. He gave us sight, smell, speech, hearing, and feeling. We’ve got this amazing nervous system that is able to communicate simple touches to our brains and translate them in to messages of love. Often, when Jesus healed the sick, He touched them in the process. Now surely, being God, He could have healed them without actually touching them, so there must have been some other reason. Perhaps they needed the physical sensation of His love.

Both Peter and Paul speak of greeting others with a kiss. I’d settle for a simple pat on the back or hand on my arm. Now, I don’t expect my vast blog audience to rush me and sweep me off my feet with loving embraces the next time they see me. I don’t even expect a magic transformation of your normal physical reserve or reticence. I’m just asking you to maybe consider to possibly think that you might offer some physical display of affection to me or another sensory-deficient person. Take a chance. I might even hug you back...if I'm not too shy.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why I Blog - Part I

When I first started blogging, a friend asked me what prompted me to start. I didn't really have an answer for her. Since her question, I've been thinking about this alot. And I've come up with a lot of reasons, one of which I will attempt to articulate in this post.

Almost three years ago, I was at meeting of a group of women from my church. We'd been reading the book "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer and were discussing the chapter about writing - letters, poetry, etc. I commented that at one time in my life I wrote well, but after 20 years in the business world, everything I wrote now sounded like a memo, policy or procedure. A woman in the group commented, sincerely I might add, she'd love to read something I'd written even if it sounded like a memo. It was truly one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. It was especially poignant as this woman, Linda died three months later.

I'd only known Linda for a few months when she died, yet her words made quite an impression on me; they've stayed with me all this time. This made me want to share what I have to say. Maybe my words will impact someone in such a manner, someday. Which was really the point that Mrs Schaeffer was making in that chapter.

A Tribute

Today, October 30 is the 11th anniversary of the day my mother died. While she had been sick with emphysema a long time, her death was still unexpected. Even now, eleven years later, I'm still sometimes surprised she's gone.

But this post is not to remember her death, but to tell people about her life.

Many of you who read this post never had a chance to meet her, but I know you would have liked her and she would have liked you all, as well. I remember her commenting about why she liked her Uncle Bill so much. She said you could put him in a room with the Queen of England and a lowly bum from the streets and he could carry on an interesting and pleasant conversation with both of them. What she seemed to not understand was that she was the same way. Aunts & Uncles, cousins and neighbors all remember her with love and how she made them feel special and welcome.

Jean Shirley Hammerton was born in 1927, the middle of three children. Her family was poor due to the depression, she said. Others from her family said they were poor because her father was an alcoholic and didn't want to work. I don't know the reason, but I know my mom generally spoke about her father in a good light, giving him the benefit of the doubt. That quality was consistent throughout her life. Many times her children (the youngest in particular) put this to the test, but she was a patient and loving mother.

Her mother died October 31, 1934 when she was seven years old. According to her story, her father was unable to care for three children on his own so he left them with his wife's family. According to other people's stories he left them on the porch of his wife's family because he didn't want the responsiblity.

Her sister, brother and she were split among relatives from both sides of the family. Mom wound up with her maternal grandmother, a widow with a number of grown children living with her. She remembered up to 10-12 people at a time living in the house. Some of the people there were her Aunt Marie who was blind, and her Uncle who was later committed to an asylum. While she never said so, I imagine with so many people, including some with disabilities there wouldn't be alot of time for a little girl.

At a time when people ignored family members with mental illness, my mom remembered travelling regularly on the bus with her grandmother to visit him. Maybe it was her grandmother's example that made Mom as understanding as she was.

Though she was separated from her siblings, the family must have made efforts to keep in contact, because they remained close through adulthood. This surprises me, because even though they were in the same city, transportation was not all that easy and phones were not the household staples they are now. This puts me to shame, as I have trouble keeping in touch with my family despite e-mail, snail mail, car, telephone, and cell phone.

When my mom was 12 her grandmother was killed when she was hit by a car. My mom then moved in with her mother's sister, who had two daughters of her own. Later in her life, I heard that my mom mentioned she was treated well there, but she always knew she wasn't family. Apparently, though, it was not something on which she dwelled because she never seemed to seek the love she didn't get, but only give the love she had. And she had a lot!

As I think about her life, I'm amazed that one who experienced such loss at a young age could be such a loving wife and mother. Today, people use such life experiences as excuses for their shortcomings, the reason they neglect their children, abuse substances, can't maintain healthy relationships. By these accounts, my mother should have been a sniper on the roof of a building shooting passersby. But instead, she was able to surmount her own pain and raise four children with love and understanding.

It's been commented by many including my father, siblings, and other relatives that my cousin Ed's wife reminds them of my mother. In my opinion it's the greatest complement that anybody could make about another. Mom was a gentle and gracious woman.

I miss her very much, and I think of her often. I wish she were still around so many of you could meet her and know how wonderful a woman she was - not just take my word for it. It hurts to think that people in the future will not only not know her personally, but probably won't even know she ever existed. However, recently, my nephew and his wife had their first child, a daughter named Kaileigh Jade. Her middle name is an acronym for all her grandmothers and great grandmothers. The "J" is for my mom, Jean. I'm comforted that because of this, Kaileigh will hear of her great-grandma Jean. And so will Kaileigh's children and grandchildren. Perhaps, they might even inherit her name. Better yet, I pray they inherit her personality, intelligence and gentle manner.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yeah HTML!

I finally discovered how to make hard returns and paragraphs work. Henceforth, my posts should be easier to read. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Now, if I can just master BiSci 004!

Friday, October 14, 2005

My Temple is in Need of Repairs

I'm currently taking a Bi Sci class, "The Human Body" as I work (ever so slowly) toward my BS in Management. In all my years of education I've sucessfully avoided most science requirements until now.

It's not that I don't like science, but I have trouble comprehending things at cellular level or below. If I can't see it, I have trouble understanding it. A microscope would help me see things, but I've had troubles using a microscope properly. I hold the PSU record for slide breakage in a single semester.

My science ability (or more appropriately inability) aside, through this class I'm discovering even more so how fearfully and woderfully made we are. I know little about Human Biology, but the little I know is still pretty amazing. What I'm learning in class demonstrates the care and intricacy with which we were created.

A friend of mine (a scientist) says she imagines one day, as scientists keep learning more and more about the complexities of the human body, someone in a lab will peer in to their microscope and see God waving back. When you keep breaking down body functions, organs, tissues, cells, molecules, atoms, etc it all lead to HIM, doesn't it.

The more I'm realizing just how fearfully and wonderfully made I am, I'm recognizing that I'm mistreating this body/temple given to me by my Creator. I eat badly, exercise sporadically, worry and stress out. And that's just the physical component. There's still the spiritual and emotional components that I neglect,as well. Sin, lack of faith and trust, all take their toll on this bodily temple.

Some of the repairs are merely cosmetic and fairly easy to fix. My foundation is good, but there is still some structural damage that needs to be addressed - some week flooring, holes in walls, drafty windows that let in the cold. Fortunately I know the Architect and Builder. And I know a good Carpenter, as well! I pray I'm able to follow Their direction and not try to tell Them how to do Their job.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm Stepping Out

Health experts say that by accruing 10,000 steps per day on a pedometer, one can achieve fitness. One can easily incorporate these steps in to their daily life by taking stairs instead of elevators, parking further away from one’s destination, etc. I recently signed up for a Well Walkers program at work, where pedometers were issued and prizes will be awarded for reaching various fitness goals. Since tracking my steps, I’ve discovered additional ways to combine everyday activities in to my exercise regime:  Teaching a preschool Sunday School class is easily worth about 2000 steps; especially if I sit in the tiny chairs. The trip down only counts for one, but up is worth 4-5 clicks on the pedometer; more when I fall on the floor in the process. It’s a looonnnggg way up.  Walking my two dogs is a traditional manner to accumulate steps, but I’ve found a way to multiply the steps. When my dogs get me wrapped up in their leashes, I collect additional steps trying to climb out of the tangle. It’s similar to Chinese jump rope, or as I call it – Canine Twister (right leg over blue leash, left arm over head and around gray leash, right leg over black dog…).  Going to the bathroom adds steps on the pedometer. And since I’m exercising more, I’m drinking more to stay hydrated. Therefore, I’m using the bathroom more. Note: women have a decided edge over men due to their need to practically undress and sit down every time they use the facilities. Heck, I know some women who could accumulate their entire 10,000 daily steps just using the rest room.  Pulling panty hose up and down registers additional steps. Control Top panty hose increase the number exponentially. Sorry guys, but unless you’re a ballet dancer (wearing tights) or regularly wear spandex bicycle shorts, this is another area where women have the advantage. One last discovery I made – when the pedometer falls off while I’m walking and I accidentally kick it, I rack up quite a number of steps! Of course the reason it fell off was because the waistband on my skirt was a little tight and the roll of fat hanging over kept knocking the darn pedometer off. Maybe I should focus more on taking the steps instead of the elevator or parking further away from my destination.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


I used the "S" word! And it's a 10-letter word, so that makes it 2-1/2 times worse than any 4-letter word! Recently, I've been involved in a large purchase for some very expensive medical equipment. About $850,000 worth, to be more precise. I found myself to be the only woman in the room with about 17 men involved in the negotiations on both sides of the discussions. A few times, I had to take the lead position - over my boss and even his boss. I'm not uncomfortable in these situations. I've been handling negotiations like this for most of my professional career, although at my current employer it's more common for me to be the only woman involved than ever before. And there are more levels of authority so I'm sitting there advising and possibly disagreeing with Corporate Directors, VPs, Senior VPs, etc - again, mostly men. I'm a woman with a lot of authority at my workplace, over both men and women. I'm the boss. And in purchase negotiations, I have the responsibilty to my employer to protect their interest so at times I have to "go on the attack" against the vendor, usually represented by men. My work situation coupled with my single status make it difficult to cultivate a submissive spirit. Everyday decisions are dependant on me. Every aspect of my life, from homemaking to wage-earning is dependent on my perfmance. It's a catch-22 with which I continually struggle. How am I to learn submission when there's no one to whom to submit?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I’ve been a Christian longer than my friend, Gabrielle (age 19-3/4), has been alive. But when I recently expressed my concerns about my progress on the career ladder taking me further from my dreams, she reminded me “my God is so big”. Though it seems I’m moving further away, my God, the Creator of time and space, the Creator of the universe and all that is in it, controls my steps, including the speed and distance between my desires and their final fulfillment. My mind and imagination are limited; restrained by human reasoning and a mortal body. If I truly believe and trust God and His word, then I will believe that His desires for me far exceed anything I can dream up myself. Thank you my friend, for your encouragement and faith. And then there other words from babes… As I was singing the song “My God is So Big” (body motions, included) with my preschool Sunday School class, 4-1/2 year old Timothy laughed and said “Miss Barb, when you do the strong part, your arms jiggle”. Reminder to myself – wear long sleeves to Sunday School.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ladder Day Saint

Well, it appears I will be taking another step up the career ladder. My boss mentioned to me that he and his boss plan on giving me additional duties and the loftier title that goes along with them. Money, loftier or otherwise, has not been yet been mentioned. I don't really care about a title. Money isn't all that important. I did not seek or expect the promotion but actually, the additional duties will make my current job easier. Many of the process issues my department experiences occur because of a lack of communication and teamwork between my staff and the staff for whom I will assume responsibility. In this new position I believe I can positively effect change for all concerned, and improve the performance of my department(s). It's no secret to those who know me that my career goal is that of wife and mother. At my age, the possibility of mother is shrinking. But I've been holding out hope for a position of wife to open up. I've been wanting to apply for that job a long time, but no one's shown any interest in even interviewing, let alone hiring me. Now, I'm taking a step up a career ladder I don't really want to be on in the first place. And every step up this ladder takes me a step further from the ladder on which I want to be.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thoughts on Work

I've been working full time over half my life. With the exception of one job, I've liked my various positions, but I would hardly call them fullfilling. In my dreams I see myself in many other roles - wife and mother, Animal Shelter owner, Academy Award winning actress, World Famous Rock star...those would be fullfilling. But as I was reading Genesis the other day I noticed something I'd never seen before in all these years (and I've read Genesis more than any other book due to my many attempts to Read the Bible in a Year). Adam worked. Eden, the perfect place - and Adam still had to work. God told him to cultivate the garden. That was Adam's job. So many people (myself included) think of Eden as a place of leisure. Adam and Eve walking around with God, lounging in the tall green grass eating approved fruit, taking lots of naps. But Adam worked. Adam's work became difficult when sin entered the picture. Suddenly work became a hard, sweat-of-the-brow, back-breaking proposition. This places my own job fullfillment (or unfullfillment) in a new light. I won't ever find total fullfillment at any job here on earth, even the position of wife and mother. How could I ever expect it in this fallen world? Sure, some jobs are better than others; some days better than others. But true fullfillment - that's still to come.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


In a previous post, I mentioned my obsessive need to make lists. Then my friend Gabrielle posted that in the TV show, Babylon Five, there is a recurring them with three questions that need to be answered (A LIST). In a discussion about these themes, someone commented that not only was it important to answer the questions, but the order in which one answered the questions was just as telling (An ORGANIZED LIST). This kind of thinking is right up my alley! I don’t accomplish as much as I should or would like to because I’m in search of the perfect list. Not only do I make a list, I check it twice, thrice, four times, five, etc. Even Santa stops at twice. It’s not enough for me to make the list ( 1. Stop at K-Mart, 2. Stop at WalMart) but I also need to evaluate and reorder the list (Kmart and Wal-Mart are on the same road. Do I stop at K or W first? K is first, but I could stop at W first and then go to K on my way home. But if I stop at W first, then when I stop at K I’ll have to cross over the road and be delayed by traffic. Therefore, the most efficient order will be K first, then W). The most efficient grocery list is one organized by category and in the order in which they appear in the store (1. Produce, 2. Deli, etc) except the frozen foods, which logically should be chosen last so they remain frozen. This obsession of mine is quirky, neurotic, and even somewhat humorous when it remains in the shopping realm. But it doesn’t. I make lists for hopes, goals, needs, wants. I need to: I. Live healthier lifestyle A. eat better B. lose weight C. exercise D. control stress II. Take better care of my house A. Clean 1. Living Room 2. Bedroom 3. Kitchen 4. Dining Room B. Repairs 1. Fix Sunroom window 2. Fix back fence 3. Repair screen III. Spiritual Life A. Pray B. Devotions C. Worship There are hundreds more items and sub-items (Budgeting, Improving family relationships, school…) that are on this list, but you get the picture. I’m a sucker for any magazine headline or book that proclaims – 10 Steps to a More Organized Home, Decorate your Bedroom in a Weekend, 30 Days to a Healthy You. LISTS! They give me LISTS! I don’t even have to think about making up my own! But then the magazines stack up, my house gets cluttered, and eventually they get tossed out – when decluttering appears on my chore list, that is. There was a time in my life when I would have tried to tackle all these at once (“Tomorrow, I will be perfect. It’s possible. I need only follow my list”), but with age comes experience and with experience, wisdom. I now realize that I can’t do them all at once and perfection is not achievable. So I pick one or two items from the list at a time. Or at least I try to. I’m stumped by which one or two items to pick. And like the Babylon Five questions, in which order should I attempt these? If I exercise, that will help control the stress and lose weight, but in order to exercise well, I need to eat better. If I choose prayer first, then that will help with devotions and worship, but if I focus on devotions and Bible reading first, then I’ll know God better and then pray and worship more effectively. But when I’m at a loss as to what/how to pray, the Holy Spirit knows and is able to pick up for me, so maybe devotions and/or worship should be first… Those of you reading this may be smiling. I too see the absurdity of this. But this is also a real problem for me that I’m trying to overcome. But I don’t know if it’s a spiritual, emotional or physical problem (yet another LIST). Or maybe it’s a combination. I feel like my life is one of those multiple-choice questions where the answer can be a, b, c, a and b, a and c, b and c, all of the above, or none of the above. I’m constantly assessing and evaluating items, making permutations and computations with the end result being – I accomplish nothing and wind up disastified with my life and myself. Is it any wonder that I don’t sleep well? And of course, sleeping well is on the Healthy Lifestyle and Dealing with Stress Lists.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Who Let the Dogs IN?

I DID. When I bought my house nine years ago, I envisioned it to be a home where people were always welcome to drop by. I would have an open door policy and guests would regularly grace my dinner table and feel free to utilize the guest room, when needed. While I have had some guests over the years, the ones who appear most often , however, seem to be of the four-legged, furry variety. Not only do they grace my dinner table (under it, not at it) they also regularly drink from my (toilet) bowl. More often, they feel free to use my bedroom (bed and all) instead of my guest room. And like all guests, human or otherwise, they can put their feet up on my couch, if they so desire (and I’ve yet to see one who hasn’t desired so). First there was Coach, who I inherited when his original owners divorced. They split up the kids, she kept the cat and no one wanted the dog. I had him for 10 years. Then there was a cat I fostered who I named Luther (anyone who was a fan of the TV show “Coach” will understand the name). He only stayed a short while, as I was able to find him a permanent home. Coach died in September, 2003 at the age of 15 years. After he was gone, I didn’t really want another pet. Getting another pet too quickly seemed like a rebound romance – destined for failure. But animals kept finding their way to me. Others who have been fostered or babysat by me the past 3 years include: Kia Swanson, Buddy Braymer, Lady Baker, Atticus Otulakowski, and Nutmeg (a stray cat I found one Thanksgiving who I was able to adopt out). About the same time Coach died, two of my neighbors lost their dogs, as well. Last spring, I noticed they had adopted new dogs and it rekindled in me the desire for another dog. I started looking in the classifieds and the various animal shelters and in July, 2004 I found Sasha, a 3-year old Lab/Beagle mix. She was frightened, overweight and out of shape and in need of someone to love and interact with her to bring out her true self. I renamed her Grace because Sasha was just too exotic a name for a gentle, down to earth dog like her. Besides, one-syllable names are easier to yell when the animal misbehaves. In September, 2004 I was asked to foster Sissy, a 9 month old Border Collie/Pit Bull mix. She was extremely frightened and shy, thus the name. In fact, she had to be dragged in to my house the first time because she was so afraid. I didn’t think that was a very kind name so renamed her Dora, as in “the Explorer” (how this name came about is for another post). As she started to come around and begin to trust me, I knew adopting her out would disrupt her too much and destroy the trust she was developing, so I adopted her, as well. While Dora is a sweet dog, I broke my one-syllable name rule, which I regret because I’m often having to call or yell at her. I do love my dogs. And it is a true love. Living alone, it’s nice to come home to someone/thing each night, especially someone/thing happy to see you. My dogs give me a reason to have to get out of bed each morning. It’s good to be wanted and needed. Margaret Mead once said, “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” Grade and Dora rely on me for their care, which is more than just meals and walks, but scratches, pats on the head, a few “Good Girl” comments… They wonder where I’m at when I’m in the bathroom too long. Now don’t think that I’m one of those “dog people” who replace humans with animals. I still have family and close friends with whom I socialize regularly. I don’t demand that people include my dogs when they invite me to a function. I don’t refer to them in human terms. They are not my children. If my dogs and a human being were drowning, I would save the human first regardless of their color, creed or criminal record. My priorities are straight. But I would go back for the dogs. Because that’s what you do for those you love.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ideas for Posts

It seems that since initally starting my blog, I've come up with more ideas for posts than I have actual posts. It's kind of like that "To Do" list of all the cleaning, organizing, home repairs that I need to do. I spend so much time compiling the list that I don't get any of the tasks completed. BTW, my obsessive list-making is one of my ideas for a future post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


SWCF - It's in the title of my Blog and it looks like a singles ad, but that was not the intent. It was just an abbreviation of the highlights of who I am. These are not listed in any particular order of importance, however. I'm single, I'm white, I'm Christian, and I'm female. But it still looks like a singles ad, which is the topic of this blog. I don't particularly like dating/matching services - I'm a romantic at heart. And I absolutely DESPISE them in the Christian realm. Why, you ask? Because they take God out of the picture and put it all in the hands of man, psychological tests, or ...gasp...a computer! Often I hear of Christians saying they met via this method and I try to smile, be diplomatic, tactful, etc. When they try to encourage me to take the same route, I politely say although it's ok for them, it's not my style. But honestly, I don't believe it's ok for them, either. One might say that they are trusting God to work through the computer, etc but I don't think that's true. I think it's more like loneliness and desperation driving them to something other than God's methods. I confess that there have been times that I've been lonely and desperate enough to want to know what my romantic future held that I've tempted to call the Psychic Friends Hotline or something like that just to hear an audible voice tell me that there was a soulmate out there for me if I would just be patient. But why pay $3.99/minute when I have a book written by my Creator, my Soulmate, my Bridegroom filled with promises and love letters. And so I wait...but patience is still a problem.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Apologies to Robert Frost

My friend and I were walking in the woods talking, laughing, sharing our dreams and hopes. We came upon a fork in the path. Each of us was ordained to take different paths, but it was ok because our paths ran parallel for awhile. We could still see each other through the brush and the trees. We could still carry on conversations, although at times it was a little more difficult to hear each other. Sometimes our paths crossed again and sometimes they wound away from each other, but we were still close enough to know the other was nearby. Recently, though, these times are fewer and far between. We don't catch sight of each other very often; we can't hear each other as well. Sometimes our paths are hard travelling which leave us out of breath and unable to speak, anyway. I look ahead at my path and I don't see any twists or turns in her direction anytime soon. I know our paths converge again at heaven's gates. But I wish we could do more than catch a glimpse of each other. It would be nice to find a nice cabin to have a short rest, meaningful conversation and cups of hot tea.

Acts of God - Justice & Mercy

I've read many articles and posts, heard many discussions, listened to many commentaries about God's role in Hurricane Katrina. I agree that it was an act of God - He did create the world, weather and all. What bothers me is when people point out particular sins in New Orleans that provoked God to act. The sins of Bourbon Street are committed on Main Street, USA as well. Instead of blaming Louisiana for what befell them, why not thank God for His mercy in what did not befall the rest of us.

Monday, September 05, 2005


I had last week off from work. I can tell when a vacation was good by how anxious I am to go back to work. I'd say this one ranks a 7 out of 10. I didn't get done all the things I'd planned, but I slept in, read some books, took naps. One of the items on my "To Do" list was to get organized. Maybe not everything, but at least get a start. But I didn't do any of that. I didn't do one organizational activity the entire week. Part of me is relieved I didn't because I just used the time off to relax and regroup. I've only been at this job for 17 months and this is the first week-long vacation I've taken. Other than that, I've had a day or two here and there. It's been a long and stressful 17 months and I needed this time to "veg". My work, my emotions, my physical well-being - all of me was starting to suffer from the stress. I only hope this vacation was enough and my work performance will improve.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Naming My Blog

Some blogger I'm going to took me an hour to come up with a title for my blog. Some titles I kicked around (and finally kicked out): ME; DAZED & CONFUSED; DOG DAYS ( I have two dogs).