Thursday, December 11, 2008

Providence and Chocolate Drop Cookies

Growing up, my favorite cookie to bake and to eat was a Chocolate Drop Cookie (with chocolate frosting). I think the recipe came from someone in my sister, Jean's Girl Scout Troop. These cookies were "cakey" cookies. Very rich. They froze well, which qualified them as Christmas cookie-worthy. And they tasted good frozen, which caused my mother much grief as her children raided the freezer in the days leading up to Christmas.

Somehow, the recipe was lost, never to be found again until about 1999. I purchased a new cookbook which contained a recipe very similar (but not exactly) to the Chocolate Drop cookies of my past.

Last evening, I was participating in a Cookie Exchange and I wanted to make these Chocolate Drop Cookies. True to form, I didn't try to bake the cookies until the night before. When I went to the bookshelf for the cookbook, I couldn't find it. I was scrambling through the house searching everywhere and couldn't find it. What I did find, however, was my 37 year old, hand-transcribed Sunbonnet Sue Recipe book with the original Chocolate Drop Cookie recipe.

I was madly praying for the substitute recipe and God answered with the better-than-substitute, original recipe.

There have been a number of instances like this in 2008.

About 2 years ago, I was wanting a new car, something more in keeping with the image I wanted to project - a small SUV. The key word here is wanting, not needing. My car (a '99 Taurus) was in good shape, reliable, and most importantly, paid for. I prayed, decided it wasn't a good time to buy a car and put those thoughts aside.

Last year at this time, I was in a minor car accident - no injuries, just some front-end body damage. But the repair costs exceed the value of the 10 year old Ford Taurus so the insurance company totalled the vehicle. Suddenly the car I wanted, became the car I needed. And at a decent price, I might add. And so I'm no longer driving a middle-aged person's dark green sedan with only a tape deck and (gasp) required KEYS to unlock the doors. Now I'm in a young person's Blazing Copper (ok - burnt orange) Ford Escape, equipped with a 6-disc CD player. And I no longer have to use KEYS to unlock the doors.

In December of 2000, I drove through a snowstorm from Erie to Findlay Lake, NY to buy myself a $75 dollar hat. Frivolous though this might seem, I'd fallen in love with the hat 12 months before and decided that would be my gift to myself when I lost 100 pounds. The very week I hit that goal, I was on the road to Findlay Lake, praying the whole trip - not for safe passage, but that the hat would still be there after all those months. The hat was there, and it looked even better on me than I remembered.

Fast forward to 2005. Each spring, I would store the hat in an old, beat up hat box I'd bought at a garage sale. The hat and the box combined were pretty light. I remember that around the fall of 2005, I went on a mad cleaning spree through my spare bedroom. I looked at the ragged hat box and thought why am I keeping this? So I threw it away. Remember, the weight of box + hat was not much. It was easy to mistake the hat box as empty. Then, come that winter when I couldn't find the hat, I realized what I'd done. It still ate at me that I'd lost the hat because of my own stupidity. I chastised myself over my disorganization. Months ago I prayed that I'd get over that silly mistake. Then in Oct/Nov of this year I was in my attic. Sitting out prominently was the hat box. I picked it up and it felt very light so I really didn't expect to find the hat inside. But it was there!

In each of these instances, I did the right thing - I prayed. My prayers were really unselfish and not outrageous. I prayed what made sense to me - please find the cookbook, help me be satisfied with my car, help me get over the loss of the hat and not be so upset over something so inconsequential...and in each instance God answered my prayers - in ways I didn't expect. If God had answered my prayers as I had prayed them, I might have been satisfied, but He was gracious enough to share His magnificence with me and exceeded my expectations.

So if you catch of glimpse of me driving down the road in my Blazing Copper (ok - burnt orange) Ford Escape, wearing my Cranberry colored hat with the rose pin, munching on Chocolate Drop Cookies, whether you realize it or not, you're also catching a glimpse of God's grandeur.

Monday, December 08, 2008

All Dogs Go to Heaven

"Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My Rusty Armor

When the slings and arrows of sins against me become to painful for me to bear, I find I start to build a wall. It's built with bricks of anger and resentment and held together with mortar of indignation.

This wall may seem to provide protection, but it is in fact a prison where no nourishment or reinforcements can enter. And it's protective value is only temporary as the walls eventually crumble under the continual onslaught.

Funny thing, tossed off to the side unused and rusting is a Suit of Armor custom built for me and purchased with the blood of Jesus.

My King, please renew the armor for me. Scrape off the rust, oil its hinges and polish it to a heavenly gleam. I am unskilled in it's use; it seems heavy and awkward. In my untrained hands, it seems as if the wall would be safer. Please, my King teach me how to use it effectively until such time the war is over and it can be retired.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thy Word I Have Hidden In My Heart...

...that I might not sin against Thee. (Ps 119:11). Problem is, I hid the wrong Words. I hid the "thou shalt nots" instead of the "HE wills". I know all the things I'm supposed to do, but weak on the things HE says HE does. This is just as (if not more) sinful against Him. Fortunately, He is merciful. I hid those words, but too often I hid them too well and can't find them easily. But the "thou shalt nots" are in plain view. Of course, my immediate reaction is that I need to better "organize" the Word so I can find what I need when I need them. Again, the emphasis on the I - "thou shalt file God's Word in thy heart in such a way it can be retrieved within 30 seconds of when thou needs it" - forgetting "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words". Wonderful Counselor, Author and Finisher of our faith, these I add my own paltry contribution - Most Wise and Able File Clerk.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Message from Dog

When Grace (the dog) first came to live with me, she was withdrawn. She'd been abused and abandoned and did not trust me. She hung back and didn't interact with me very much. It took a few weeks of reliable feedings, a lot of affection, and some discipline before her true (graceful) personality came out.

I remember the moment I knew she'd reached the turning point. She did something wrong and I gave her a stern "No". Instead of fearfully slinking away, she walked to her crate, plopped down with with a "Hrmph" and then started muttering under her breath. I'm not sure what she was saying, but I think it was some sort of canine complaining.

Dora was also abandoned and abused. When she was delivered to my home, she had to be carried in, fighting to get away the entire trip down the sidewalk and up the front steps. She definitely had trust issues. With plenty of patient love and regular feedings, she eventually didn't distrust me. I use those words deliberately, because she didn't' trust me, either.

Just from her expressions (yes, dogs have them) I knew she was a dog that longed for affection; she was the type of dog that would love to cuddle.

I'm not ashamed to admit my dogs sleep with me (I owe the Peoria Pair another 14 Things). Once Dora collected enough courage to climb in bed with Grace and I, she laid on top of the blankets; yet, I sensed she was a "burrower". I knew she'd love to climb under a load of blankets and nestle beside me, if she could get past her fear. I think the reason she didn't though was because she was afraid of being trapped.

It took a long time, but I knew she'd successfully navigated a crossroads when she started climbing under the blankets. She trusted me to protect for her in case the boogie man came after her some night.

I see parallels between the dogs' relationship with me and my relationship with God. Like Grace, when I'm disciplined I slink back in fear. Like Dora, I crave the affection and cuddling He offers, but I don't trust Him enough to believe He will protect me; I think I have to take care of myself.

I love Grace and Dora and because of this love - MY love for them - I've seen them grow; I've seen their true, sweet personalities emerge and had the gift of their affection returned. As I observe their growth, I believe there is hope for me, because God's love for me is much greater than the love I can ever have for my dogs. There will be a time when I will not slink back in fear when disciplined. I'll be able to go about my life without looking over my shoulder planning how to defend myself against some attack, because I know my (very strong) Father is watching over me. I'll be able to rest peacefully in His embrace.

Until that time, however, I have to be content with the true hope that I'm making progress, slow as it may be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Odd Sighting of the Day

I was walking through the lobby of the hospital (Hamot) when I saw on TV Martha Stewart cooking mashed potatoes with...Snoop Dogg. I was (and still am) flabbergasted.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Life as a Pincushion

I have a relatively easy life. No life threatening situations stabbing me. No horrible crises piercing me like arrows. My daily troubles are pin pricks, in comparison. But there are so many pins aimed my way. It seems everywhere I turn there's another pin pointed directly at my soul. Some of these pins are larger and wound deeper than others and inflict more pain. Though none produce deadly blood loss, I am weakened by "tear loss". The stabs and jabs hurt me, distract me, confuse and disorient me. Sometimes I think it would be easier to face a guillotine once than to face thousands of little needles each day.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

He Knows if You've Been XXX or Good

I remember a time when my father took me to the local catholic school to register me for first grade. The teacher had all the children draw a picture. To this day, over 40 years later, I remember the picture I drew. I was on earth doing something or another and in heaven there were angels keeping track of what I did. They were tallying up my good deeds and my bad. I even remember that the number of tick marks in the "good" column outnumbered the bad.

Knowing all I do about salvation, redemption, etc; despite all the sermons I've heard and books I've read, I still live my life as if this picture were true. I live with this nagging fear that the numbers won't add up in my favor.

I've been a list maker for as long as I can remember (even back in kindergarten) and I've rarely finished the items on my lists. Perhaps, because I keep adding to them. I think, if I've completed all these tasks, then surely I must have missed something so I add more things to do. There's always something more I could have, should have done.

Upon reflection, I realize that old picture was only half right (and half wrong). My deeds have been tallied, but when I came to Jesus the "bad" list was destroyed. My "good" list may not be as long as it could/should have been, but who's is? And because of Jesus, the numbers always add up in my favor.

Amazing grace...I once was lost, but now only the list is.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Payday for Miss Barb

About 6-7 years ago, I was heading somewhere with the Barblings and their mom. We stopped for a quick dinner at the McDonald's drive-through, where Barbling #3 (age approx 3-4 years old) ordered her usual - a plain cheeseburger.

Unfortunately, McDonald's put pickles on the burger, which caused some turmoil. #3 asked her mother to remove the dreaded pickles from her burger, but Mom had to decline, as driving the van was a higher priority, at the time.

I told #3 I would help her in her time of need. As she handed the stricken patty to me, she said "Miss Barb, I'll pay you a penny to take off my pickles. A penny and a kiss."

It was the best paying job I've ever had!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unfit for Duty

If the joy of the Lord is my strength, then my joy is pretty flabby and out of shape. But what fitness regimen is there for joy?

Unlike the body, I can't force joy exercises upon myself. Contriving it just makes things worse. There are no joy vitamins to fortify my spirit and eating right doesn't nourish me emotionally. While many self-help gurus have joy DVDs to sell me, outlining their 10-Steps to Joy, they're of little use.

It seems there is nothing to DO to attain joy. Meanwhile I feel joy weakening by the minute.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Will Fear No Evil

Why can I understand this bit of Ps 23 when I'm reading it, but completely forget about it at 10:30 am when I'm immersed in paperwork, the phone is ringing off the hook, I've got 121 emails that need a response and my boss is demanding some update or another - in the valley of the shadow of death?

Better question - how do I remember?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Simple Thought From a Simple Mind

As I was praying, I realized no matter how much praise I heaped upon the Lord it could never be enough. All that I (or anyone, for that matter) know doesn't even touch the surface of His greatness. Rather than being discouraged, however, I was encouraged by the knowledge that I'm in the care of pretty big hands.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin's Daughter

During Sarah Palin's speech last night the cameras prominently featured her family members. In one shot, her youngest daughter, Piper, was shown holding her baby brother, stroking his head. Suddenly she licked her hand and smoothed down his hair.

My mother had a coffee mug that said "I love you, Mom. But I'll never forgive you for cleaning my face by spitting on a Kleenex"

Piper has natural mothering instincts.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Am I Being Lazy or Practical?

Long story short - dogs were prescribed meds. One particular medication involves diluting a pill in a syringe filled with 10cc of water and then shooting the resulting white liquid into the dog(s)'s mouth. Neither of them likes it much and there has been a lot of white liquid spit out, drooled and dribbled on the floors.

This medication has to be dispensed 3 times per day x 7 days x 2 dogs. That's 42 doses. Twenty one times I have to wipe up the white residue from the floors.

I've taken to leaving the residue behind and plan on cleaning it up when the girls are finished with this course of medication Monday evening. Then I only have to clean it up once. It should be noted that this stuff cleans up easily with a wet rag and does not leave a stain.

So my question - am I being lazy or practical?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My Dad WAS Right

Tonight, when I got home from work, I opened the back door to let the dogs out. In the yard was a rabbit. Dora didn't notice, but Grace immediately went off chasing the bunny. However, she suddenly stopped to relieve herself. Which proves my father's age-old adage, "If the dog hadn't stopped to "produce skubalon", she would have caught the rabbit!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Redemption and Home Improvement Shows

I'm (slowly) reading the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. Each chapter (there are 45 of them) is titled as a question one might have about heaven. I recently read Chapter 9 "Why is Earth's Redemption Essential to God's Plan?"

Prior to reading this my answer would have been "what does it matter". I'd never thought much about it, and since it really had no bearing on my eternal standing I put the subject aside and put my thoughts and energy towards other things - like work, laundry, dogs, etc. I even had these thoughts upon first encountering this chapter; however, goal-oriented neurotic that I am, I forced myself to read on, rather than skip ahead to the more important chapter "Will Animals, Including Our Pets, Live Again?". I'm glad I did.

Why is Earth's redemption essential to God's plan, you ask? Well, it's the difference between "Extreme Home Makeover" (EHM) and "This Old House" (TOH). For those unfamiliar with these shows, EHM takes a needy family and razes their previous home, whether it needs it or not, and builds them a brand new, big, beautiful, EXTREME home with all new furnishings, appliances, etc with all the latest bells & whistles. Quite often, they even add a new "appliance" to the garage.

TOH takes an old house and restores it to it's original beauty. They remove the remove the stucco from the regal Tudor-style home, the purple aluminum siding from the Arts & Crafts bungalow, and absolutely BAN rust-colored shag carpeting everywhere. Essentially, they "redeem" the home.

God created This Old Earth and, as Alcorn says, redemption is essential because it emphasizes the value our Creator put in to His creation. He will restore His earth to the original Eden that He intended. There is no doubt that parts will be extremely madeover and rust-colored shag carpeting will be sent to the flames of hell (where do you think those sulfuric fumes come from, anyway). But the basic design and framework of His creation will be redeemed to their original beauty and purpose.

Alcorn did a fine job answering the chapter's title question. More importantly, though, God answered my age-old question of "what does it matter?". While it's true that my thoughts on this topic do not have any bearing on my salvation, they do have bearing on my knowledge of my God and Father. This new knowledge of God's care and plan for His creation reminds me of His sovereignty and reinforces to me that He loves me. In recent weeks I've found this to be very comforting as I struggled with some issues in my life. Whether it's EHM or TOH, home improvement can be very laborious. Fortunately, I have a good Carpenter working on me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This past Saturday, I participated in Event #2 of the Highmark Quad Games. I bettered last year's time by almots 3 minutes! In the overall competition, after two events (the Swim race in April and the Bike Race in July) I am placed 249 of 294 participants. Note that #248 is a co-worker's 10 year old son who is ahead by 14 seconds.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Must Be Deaf

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend Warrior

Monday through Friday, I wage battles against rising healthcare costs and office politics. Then a truce is called on Saturday and Sunday. But then, for me, I enter a new war zone...the war for my thoughts.

During the work week my mind is preoccupied with Purchase Orders, staff problems, etc. On the weekends I have the time to rethink and re-rethink all that happened - the disresepectful employee, the rude cooworker, the slights from my superiors - and I get angry. The hurt I was able to put aside the other days rises up and takes over my thoughts.

Trying to flee the temptation of anger, resentment and disatisfaction is exhausting. Many self-help books tell me to keep busy, keep my mind off of these things. But isnt that what gets me in trouble in the first place - keeping my mind off these things? So how do I deal with this?

I though weekends were supposed to be relaxing and fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I was reading an old journal entry where one of the Barblings had asked me if I was a friend or family. I replied that I was a friend since I wasn't a blood relative, when their mom came in the room and corrected me saying that Barbling #1 wasn't a blood relative either (she's adopted) and she's family.

It's no secret that I would love to have a child of my own but during a conversation with a friend I confided that I was also afraid that if I did have my own child that all the other children in my life would feel they'd been replaced, and I would never want them to think that. I couldn't love a Barbling, et al any more if they were my very own.

This is how God, my Father, views me. "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out,"Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God..." (Romans 8:14-16).

Some days, when I think of the children in my life I'm filled with such love my heart feels like it will explode. If anyone tried to do anything to hurt them I could easily become violently protective. I would run in to a burning building, jump in to a raging river, throw myself in front of a bullet for any and all of them.

Today I realized that my heavenly Father feels the same towards me. It was through Christ's death that I became a "blood" relative. I might be one of His billions of children, but He knows my name, remembers my birthday, etc. His heart fills to the point of explosion at the thought of me (!?!), and He threw Himself in to the line of fire for me.

...because family sticks together.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A New Cause for Insomnia

I've been trying to improve my nutritional habits. Of late, I've been eating a healthy breakfast and stopping eating 2 hours before bedtime.

I haven't slept in 72 hours!!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Barb & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The weather today is very hot and humid. Work was busy, with people demanding things of me right and left. I left work late, stopped for a few necessary groceries at the crowded grocery store. When I arrived home I found my home had been vandalized.

These vandals were especially heinous and brazen. They signed their work and included their children in on their vicious act!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Walking on Clouds

During my trip to Toronto I went to the top of the CN Tower. At the Lookout level (the larger round area) there is an area with a glass floor. Note my feet to the left.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How SMART is This?

During my recent trip to Toronto, I got to see a Smart Car up close and personal. The BIKE is almost as big as the CAR. The Smart Car would get even better gas mileage in Erie because it would sit in the garage all winter. It couldn't drive over a snowball!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

You Can Thank Me Later

From an article on Birth Order...

Youngest: The youngest child tends to be the most creative and can be very charming -- even manipulative. Because they often identify with the underdog, they tend to champion egalitarian causes. (Youngest siblings were the earliest backers of the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tick Tock

"Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, May 19, 2008

Does This Make Sense?

I recently got a haircut. I don't like stiff, "formal" hairstyles, so in order to get the right amount of "messy" casualness I have to:

1. Blow dry with a Large Round Brush to give my hair some volume.

2. Use a Flat Iron to remove all waves

3. Use a Curling Iron on my bangs to give some bend to the ends.

So, I curl my hair to flatten it to curl it, just to wind up pulling my hair back in a pony tail by the end of the work day.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why It's Hard to Be Single

One of the reasons I find it difficult being single is when I've had a bad day - at work, wherever, whatever - there's no one to come home to to tell about it. Someone else might offer me words of encouragement or just distract me with conversation about their day. At least I wouldn't be quietly alone with my own thoughts, dwelling on whatever happened.

NOTE: I know marriage offers no certainty of anything. But this post is just to let others know how singleness feels

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This Little Light (Bulb) of Mine

How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

Charismatic: Only 1. Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal : 10. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic : None. Use candles only

Baptists: At least 100. One to change the light bulb, 55 to sing a spiritual about the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken

Episcopalians : 3. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormon : 5. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians :We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we wil l explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid parts to luminescence.

Methodists : Undetermined**Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb , or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene : 6 One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans : None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish :What's a light bulb?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Baking Haiku

Grandious Tea Party idea

Sticky crumbly mess

Petit fours dans le sabot

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Neither Snow Nor Rain Norr Heat Nor Gloom of Night

Yesterday I mailed some DVDs back to Netflix. I received email notice this morning at 7:07 am that they'd been received. Less than 24 hours from the time the DVDs were picked up from my mailbox to the time they were delivered and scanned in to Netflix's system.

How did they do that?

It usually takes a minimum of two days for an item sent by me to be delivered to my Dad in Pittsburgh, the same location of the Netflix depot.

And when did the USPS start delivering before 8:00 am???

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I did not take these pictures. The photographer was my friend Ellie. But because some of you do not subscribe to her blog I thought I'd share them with you here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Car in The Garage

Warning: This post has a decidedly female bent. Men, you've been warned.

I recently had my annual gynecological exam and everything was fine. Due to past history, this exam included a sonogram to view my reproductive organs and everything was deemed to be in excellent condition.

The images were amazing. I've had a number of ultrasounds before but never was I able to view things in this fine a detail. I saw my uterus, my one remaining ovary, and even a few eggs, which the technician said were "quite healthy looking".

Here I've got this vehicle that is inspected annually and certified to be in great working order yet it sits unused in the garage until next year's inspection. It seems like a waste and I can't think of any reason why God is allowing this to happen.

I can recall a number of biblical examples where someone was expected to do more than it seemed they were able (Moses vs Pharaoh, David vs Goliath, etc) but none where one was expected to do less.

There are many books and articles written for women who hear their "biological clocks ticking" but they're addressed to women who postponed motherhood for career. I didn't postpone anything; in fact it appears it hasn't even been postponed but denied.

Leading up to the exam, I actually hoped the doctor might find something wrong; this would have given me some reason for my single and barren state. Maybe I'd even have a fatal illness that would end all my emotional pain. While other women might be celebrating their confirmation of health, I'm confused and grieving the the children that never will be.

For Book Lovers Everywhere

"The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones."

-John Wooden

Monday, March 10, 2008

Barbling 4 (Legs)

It's official. All Barblings have had sleepovers at Miss Barb's, including the 4-legged one. Daisy spent the weekend with Grace, Dora and I. But unlike the other Barblings, she seemed a bit homesick. Maybe it was because this sleepover did not include a trip to DairyQueen.

Daisy wasn't totally unhappy, though. She preferred to eat Dora's food so she got a bit of a treat there. And Dora preferred Daisy's food, so no one went hungry. In addition, since I have a fenced in yard, she was able to romp around in the snow unleashed.

A note to Mom & Dad: she did not jump on the furniture or sneak up the steps. Unlike Barblings 1-3, she maintained her good behaviour, despite the bad influence of Grace and Dora and the spoilings of Miss Barb.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Taste of Heaven on Earth

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm reading the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. It's got me thinking no matter how beautiful or wonderful something is here on earth, it will pale in comparison to the heavenly equivalent. However, I think that sometimes God gives us a taste of the heavenly to encourage us onward.

One sampling of heaven that I was blessed to receive happened late summer 2003. I remeber it vividly. After an extraordinarily stressful couple of years, my employer of 21 years had declared bankruptcy and closed its doors. While I went directly to another job, it was at a substantial pay cut and it was not a great work atmosphere. And to top it all off, my dog, Coach, was dying.

Coach was old and suffering from arthritis. Pain and confusion made him wake me every two hours every night for months and I was suffering emotionally and physically. In fact, there were many an evening when I couldn't even recall driving home from work.

One afternoon, I was visiting at the Barblings' home. It was a warm summer day. I was sitting in a chair in a sunny corner of the family room with the heat seaping in to my achy bones. I could hear the girls outside, laughing and playing. Dad Barbling was mowing the lawn and I could hear the monotone droning hum of the lawnmower (which I find ALMOST as soothing as the sound of the vacuum cleaner - but that's another story). And Mom Barbling was sitting on the couch folding laundry, as we talked. I fell asleep - I don't know for how long. Two minutes? Two hours? No idea. I just remember that when I woke up I felt as if I'd had the most perfect sleep in my life. And no one thought it was odd that Miss Barb was taking a nap in their family room.

Some days when life is horrible, when I'm exhausted or upset or lonely, I remember that afternoon. In heaven, through the course of eternity, I will have many more experiences like that - perfect peace and rest; where you'll feel so at home that you can take a nap wherever, whenever you need with no one thinking it rude or strange.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Heinz 57

I've neglected my blog for a while, so I need to do some "ketchup". I don't know if I've got 57 things on which to comment, but I think it'll be close!

1. The insurance adjuster DID total my car so I bought a 2007 Ford Escape. Color: Blazing Copper. Joseph Swanson said it's cool, so that makes me in with the young crowd. Pictures will be posted sometime when I can get a shot that does the vehicle justice - that is, when it's not covered with snow or mud.

2. I recently dog-sat Atticus Otulakowski for few days. This time, he chose to escape in sub-freezing temperatures, opposed to the LAST time he escaped when the temperatures were pushing 100 degrees.

3. My favorite TV show "Lost" is back and I'm enjoying it!

4. Due to illness, weather and lack of heat, I didn't have a Sunday school class at all in the month of January. But I still managed to have a snack on those mornings.

5. I stayed up to watch the Academy Awards last night. I hadn't seen any of the movies nominated and the outfits were not that impressive. I have no idea why I bothered.

6. I recently attended a Gannon University Ladies Basketball Game. It was free in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. I went because my sister, Jean, a BC survivor asked. I really enjoyed the game. I think the last time I was at a basketball game was in high school (1979).

7. Against my usual habit, I recently forwarded on an email survey "How well do you know me". To the question "Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules?" 9 out of ten people that responded said I was a rebel!!! One person qualified her statement by saying that I was a rebel but I probably felt guilty about it afterwards, which was quite perceptive (and accurate) of her.

8. My nephew, Steven, passed his GED. And even though it's been almost 10 years since he's been in school he got 100% on the science portion. He didn't inherit this skill from his Aunt Barb.

9. My friends, the Lanes, just purchased a new old house. That is, it's new to them, but it was built in 1896. For those of you who know the area, the house used to be the old Calico Patch Quilt Shop in Harborcreek. I'm glad for them because they've always dreamed of an old house. I'm glad for me because: A) they'd been looking at homes in McKean which would have put them considerably farther away from me. NO more impromptu drop-bys, and B) the driveway to the new house is straight. Their current driveway has a bit of a curve and I wind driving through their front yard when I back out. I'm not the only one to do so, I want you all to know, but no one else would put up with their teasing like I do.

10. I Netflixed the latest Harry Potter movie. I think this was the weakest of them all, so far.

11. For the first time that I can recall in my 46 years, I got flowers for Valentines day. Or should I say flower, singular. It was a pretty yellow rose from Peoria :)

12. I started a diet.

13. I discontinued a diet.

14. I started an exercise program.

15. I ended an exercise program.

16. Usually, by this time of year I've already submitted my taxes and am counting the days until I receive my return. This year, my tax return sits half complete on Turbo Tax. I don't know why, but I have no motivation, even though I'm expecting a return.

17. I'll be spending my tax return plus a portion of my savings on a new roof. Maybe that's why I'm in no hurry to file my taxes. It's not as much fun admiring a new roof as it is a new diamond ring, or some other extravagance.

18. Walgreens just opened their first stores in Erie. I was looking forward to it, but after having gone in, I realize it's just a drugstore. I also realize I need to develop a better social life!

19. I traveled to Chicago (more precisely, Mundelein, IL) for a business trip on February 5 & 6. Our group was supposed to leave Chicago at 4 pm and be home in Erie by about 10:30 pm. However, due to concerns about the weather, our hosts rebooked us to an earlier flight that would have us back in Erie by about 6-7 pm. We didn't leave Chicago until after 8 PM. Enough said.

20. I'm reading the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. When I first got the book, I looked up "will pets be in heaven" in the Index. He hedged on this a bit. Then I started the book from the beginning. In the Introduction, he mentioned that perhaps a reader would be tempted to just turn to the parts that answered their questions, but he encouraged readers to read through the entire book. No matter how educated the man is, that statement alone gave him a great amount of credibility with me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

The Friday before Christmas I was involved in a fender-bender. I hit the pickup truck in front of me and it experienced minor damage. My car, though still running, looks like it has a broken nose. The hood is bent, the grill is broken and apparently, according to the insurance adjuster, it may well be totaled (still to be determined - I should know tomorrow).

For the at least the last 6 months, I've been wanting to get a new car, but I couldn't justify it. My car (a '99 Taurus) was still reliable and in good shape. In my 20 years of driving, this is only my third car, so I have a history of driving cars until they cease running.

So, is this God's way of giving me reason to get a new car? After having talked myself out of getting a new car months ago, now I have to readjust.

Maybe I shouldn't have "talked myself into/out of anything" but just prayed and trusted God. Let Him do the justifying. And thus my questions...was I right? Was I wrong? Does it really matter?

Of course, this may all be for naught, as the adjuster might not have to total the car after all.