Sunday, July 30, 2006

My God is So Big

Years ago, during an exercise in a Women's Support Group (secular-based), we were asked to choose a picture from a magazine and describe why we chose it. I chose a picture of a mountain range where you could see how small the people were in relation to the mountains. I said I chose it because I liked how it reminded me how small I am; not the thing to say with therapists in the room! They felt that was an indication of my poor self-worth.

I like feeling small. At 5'11" , I'm usually the tallest woman in the room. In fact, I'm often the tallest one, period. When I weighed substantially more than I do now, I was the largest person in the room. Throughout elementary school, when we had to line up according to height, I was at the end of the line with only Joe Angelo behind me - eight years of the back of the line! So feeling small is a novelty for me.

Feeling small reminds me there is someone bigger than me (no matter what my size) and I'm in His care. Sometimes, during particularly intimate times of prayer, I can feel the physical presence of God surrounding me. And He is HUGE, able to squash me like a bug, if He so wanted. I feel very small at these times...tiny, even; but not weak or inconsequential. In fact, I feel the opposite...protected and cared for. Like a child in the protection of her Daddy's arms. Like one in a lover's embrace. Not a bothersome fly to be swatted.

My self-worth is founded in feeling small, "for when I am weak, then I am strong".

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Report from the Front: Resolution Revolution

You might remember that in January of this year I declared a war on New Year's Resolutions. It's been seven months since my uprising and I'm happy to report that I still have not made any resolutions. And as I evaluate these last seven months, I realize I've accomplished as much as I would have if I'd made resolutions in the first place!

Let's house is no cleaner than it was before, but it's relatively clean, and in fact my bed has been made about 70% of the time. But dust bunnies and dog hair still prevail. I've lost and gained the same 5-10 pounds, and eaten more fruits and vegetables than I had previously, but still way short of the 5-a-day recommendation (I think I average 1, and that's counting the ketchup for my fries and the sauce on my pizza). You can walk through my spare bedroom without slipping on papers and tripping on books, but that's because they're stuffed under the bed and work table (to be honest, this is an improvement). My desk is a mess, but there are no dirty dishes on it and crumbs in the keyboard are kept to a minimum. All totaled, things are normal in the Best household.

The only casualty in this revolution has been the guilt I would normally feel by not having accomplished as much as I thought I should. But as I mentioned in January, what's really important - what really counts are relationships.

I've played tennis with a friend (more like shagging balls for 30 minutes but we had fun), went to the Medieval Faire in the rain with another (and got a henna tattoo). I've gone to Gardner Parties where I've been getting to know a few people from church better than I would in just the brief conversations following Sunday worship service. At school, I made a few friends in my classes - in fact a 19 year old girl said she thought I was "cool"! I reestablished a relationship with a college friend with whom I'd lost contact. Another "casual" friend and I had a meaningful conversation that I found encouraging - I look forward to more. I've made a few new friends through this blog. Finally, and most importantly, God has been revealing more of Himself to me, deepening and cementing our relationship. This has been occurring through many instances - some standard means like Bible Study and worship service; some through trials; and a lot through the relationships mentioned prior.

Who says war has to be hell?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

One Good Thing

At my first dining experience at Chez Ben-Ezra a few years ago, I was introduced to the "One Good Thing" tradition, whereby each person has to share something good that happened that day. Being polite hosts, at the first dinner I was allowed to go last so I had time to think of something.

The tradition continues at our Gardner Parties. As being forewarned is forearmed, I came to our first party prepared with something to share. I knew they were a tough crowd and wouldn't give me a "bye", especially since I had prior knowledge of the custom!

Some of the "good things" I've shared have been very simple (I got a prime parking spot) or just pleasant (I met a former co-worker for lunch and reestablished the relationship).

Our dinners are only held every other Monday, but lately I've found myself thinking of a "good thing" on some of the other 13 days. It's a good habit to develop.

And so, here's Thursday's good thing...and since I'm not allowed to save it up until our next dinner and it's too nice a thing not to share, I figure I'll share it with you.

Today, I had a very nice conversation with a friend of mine. Although we've been friends for many years, this conversation had a depth that we've never attained before. I feel very blessed for being given that time and for the advice that was given to me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I Went to a Gardner Party

No butchering of Rick(y) Nelson lyrics this time. My attempts at being Weird Al Yankovic are on hold for awhile. It's too mentally taxing!

Last night was our Gardner Party. I found myself anticipating this gathering the last few days. At our first couple of dinners, we've celebrated birthdays and an engagement. The food has ranged from Mexican, Italian, and American grilled, and always desert. The guests are a range of personalities and ages - 1 in his 50's; 1 in her 40's; I think the 30's have been missed but a couple of those in their 20's are closing in; 6 in their 20's, 1 still a teen (19 is still teenager); 3 in single digits; and even one in utero.

But during last night's dinner, I was struck that what I like best about our gatherings is the tradition we've already established. At each dinner, we share our "one good thing", Josh reads scripture, we all sing from the Psalter.

Some might find this boring and stagnant, but I find this gives our assemblies structure and direction so they flow nicely. I find these gatherings comforting, like riding an innertube down a river. The current varies, the scenery can change, but everything is within the confines of the riverbanks. And I've enjoyed going along for the ride with my friends.

Friday, July 14, 2006


In my last post, I mentioned I often refer to Jim as "my best friend's husband" when in fact, he is my friend as well. Another dilemma I've faced in posts has been how to refer to Jim and Brenda's children. I find it necessary to give them some sort of title so those of you not familiar with our relationship will understand.
The girls aren't my nieces. While they too are my "friends" that can be confusing when referring to their parents in the same posts. I find "little friends" and "young friends" banal; our relationship is anything but commonplace. I want something short so I don't have to waste a lot of blog space explaining who they are. Therefore, I've created a new title I find befits our unique and beloved friendship. I dub thee Jennifer, Rebekah and Olivia (drum roll....) - Miss Barblings.Comments, anyone?

Monday, July 10, 2006


This is the best title I could come up with for this post.

On Friday, a friend of mine, Jim, was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix. An aside - Jim is married to my best friend, Brenda, and I usually refer to him as my best friend's husband. But I feel this description short-changes our relationship, especially in current circumstances. So he's my friend - a demotion or promotion? You'd have to ask him.

On Friday evening and all day Saturday, I just tried to be there for my friends and their children. I was strong and I planned on being so as long as they needed me to be. Saturday evening, Brenda asked me if I would pick up their daughters and take them to church on Sunday, as she wanted to go to the hospital and be there when Jim's doctor stopped in. I said no problem - I've taken the girls to church before. It was no big deal.

It proved to be a bigger deal than I ever expected and by Sunday morning, my strength failed me.

As I said, I've taken the girls to church before when their parents were out of town, or Jim was working and someone had the flu. But Sunday, I was very conscious of the drastic difference and I knew the girls were, as well. This was no temporary flu bug - this was dadcan'tbeherebecauseheisinthehospitalwithcancerandmomneedstobewithdadsoMissBarbisfillingin. It was a very emotional experience with so many different, unexpected thoughts and feelings slamming in to me.

I've sat in "our pew" by myself before and it never felt as empty as it did this past Sunday when there were four of us. This made me angry and very sad. This was not the way things were supposed to be, but because of sin in this fallen world, people get sick and families suffer. I hate that they have to go through this. I hate to see the pain and fear in their eyes.

All I wanted to do was cry (and I did). But I tried not to because I didn't want to upset the girls. When I couldn't hold back the tears any longer, I wanted to bolt to the ladies room. However, that would leave the girls even more alone and that could not and would not happen! So I tried to cry inconspicuously, and when the girls noticed, I just put my arms around them. I wanted to explain to them that I wasn't crying because I was frightened, but I was crying because they were frightened and sad, and I don't want them to suffer. But I didn't know how to explain it to them, and besides it would have been difficult in the middle of worship service (I hope they understand).

The issue now was the child to arm ratio was not balanced - three girls, two arms, one teary-eyed and emotional Miss Barb. How do parents do it! No matter what I did, someone was short-changed. I tried resting my arm on one's shoulder while my hand squeezed another's arm, but this seemed inadequate. I tried holding their hands - with two small hands in my one larger hand. This didn't seem to be enough, either. I tried a number of configurations, all of which seemed insufficient. All the while, I wished another parent (someone who knew what they were doing) would come forward and take over for me. And I selfishly wished someone would come hold ME. The most effective and optimum ratio for comforting is still one child, two arms.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mr Roboto, CEO

A long intro to a short post...

I've attended two funerals this past week. The first was the mother of a former co-worker. She was 61 years old and died of cancer. The other was the 51 year old son of a dear friend. He was found in his home (he lived alone) dead of a suspected heart attack. Therefore, I've been thinking about death. In particular, my death. I'm deciding what kind of funeral I want (no viewing - I don't see the purpose; upbeat service and quirky - maybe everyone could wear orange). And now I'm deciding whether I want to be cremated or buried.

Having been raised as a Catholic, I've heard since birth (from the religious powers that were and not my family) that cremation is sinful, so I have this predisposition against it. But then I started thinking - why was/is it thought to be wrong? I was taught by the nuns in school that it was wrong because if one was cremated there was no body to be raised to heaven. Then I started to wonder - what about people who aren't cremated but die in a fire. Surely God must have some mechanism to handle such occurences.

And now the point of this post...

God must have a mechanism?

What on earth was I thinking! Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my mind I view God as some cosmic CEO who employs engineers and project managers (and of course a few talented Purchasing Mangers) who develop all sorts of processes, procedures, and mechanisms to cover all possibilities. Or worse, I think of Him basing all His decisions on "sound thought" or "good sense" (as defined by ME).


My God is not like a computer, processing input and producing output. My God is not an emotionless robot who functions from some chip. He's not Mr. Spock, doing things because they are "logical". And He's not a CEO, conerned with what the Board of Directors or shareholders might think.

If that were the case, then prayer would be fruitless - all His decisions would be based on reasoning and any request on my part would not factor in to His rulings. There would be no need for worship - how could a robot comprehend or appreciate such a thing? And grace and mercy could not exist - there's no place for it in today's business world.

Thank you, Lord that I'm in Your employ and not in the hands of Mr Roboto, CEO.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Here I Raise My Ebenezer. Why?

At a recent Bible Study, the group got off track a bit (surprise, surprise) and started talking about the idea of memorials or "Joshua Stones" (Joshua 4:1-9). Now, I understand the idea of memorials, and they are God-dictated, but I'm at a loss as to their purpose. Everything is temporary, even memorials. Even for those that might still be standing to this day, their purpose is not even remembered. The people to whom they meant anything are long gone.

I've gone to garage sales and auctions where people's scrapbooks, photo albums, and even wedding dresses wind up in dumpsters. Even if there was family remaining, they obviously didn't find any meaning in these items. And that's not really wrong, is it? Those items are only things.

In my own life, people, places and things I hold dear are either dead or dying, succumbing to old age and decay. My employer of 21 years went bankrupt and closed. Two churches that I've attended in the past 25 years no longer exist. My high school and grade school no longer exist. And the hospital where I was born went bankrupt, closed, and has been razed to the ground. Even the house where I grew up and my father still lives is falling down around him. When he leaves or dies, it will most likely be leveled.

Besides, even if all these things and others were still around, there is no next generation following me. There are no children asking "what do these stones mean to you?". At 45 years old, no marriage prospects and therefore no child prospects, I ask - Why? What is the purpose in my life for stones that crumble and altars that rot?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


When "Seinfeld" was still on the air, I would have some out of the ordinary experience and think "I should submit that to 'Seinfeld'." Now, when I have a similar experience I think "I should blog this". Considering the number of odd things that occur, is it any wonder my creative plumbing got clogged?