Friday, August 20, 2010

Intelligent Life in the Kennel

I awake at 2 am needing to go to the bathroom. The dogs are in a deep sleep around me, evidenced by their loud snoring. I gently extricate myself from the sheets, blankets and dogs, so as not to disturb them. I ease myself up from the mattress, letting sleeping dogs lie. Tiptoeing across the floor, I listen carefully verifying that they remain in their sweet canine slumber uninterrupted.  I continue about my business. I’m gone no more than two minutes, tops. When I return, the dogs, still snoring, have soundlessly moved in to MY recently vacated spot on the bed.

How do they do that?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Electric Slide

I unplug my curling iron and toaster as fire safety precautions.

I unplug my cell phone charger for economic and environmental reasons, to eliminate "phantom power".

I keep my blender and stand mixer unplugged because I have a fear that they'll turn themselves on in the middle of the night.

I've been forever damaged by the horror films of my youth.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Power of Powerlessness

When I was employed, Sundays were the hardest day of the week for me. It was the day when I was most alone, left to my own thoughts. It was the day when my feelings about those thoughts overwhelmed me and my emotions would rage out of control.

Now that I'm unemployed, virtually every day is Sunday, to this regard. Though I try to keep busy, there is still too much down time and my disatisfaction with my life, and my thoughts of failures past and present take over.

Today, on my way to church I was mulling over all my shortcomings, all my mistakes, all my sins and I was overcome by my powerlessness. I can never change the past. I can never make up for bad decisions I made throughout my 49 years. I will never be able to catch up to where I should be. And then God (gently) flicked me on the head (He does that to me sometimes) and said "AHA!" and I said in my most quiet, mouse-like voice "oh" (I do this with Him alot).

I AM powerless. My anguish comes when I think I actually have power. But I was created and adopted by God Almighty, who is NOT powerless. Not only is he NOT powerless, He IS most powerFUL. He is the only one able to actually keep the promises He makes and because of this, I can trust and truly hope in Him.

His promises weren't quitely communicated, either. He put them out there in His Word, for all the world to see and hear. He keeps His word; He doesn't have to worry about someone pointing out some flawed thinking or failure on His part. This is the one, true and perfect God here; not some fly-by-night philospher hawking self-help DVDs on TV.

A few verses come to mind:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil,to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." James 1:17

"For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:6

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2Cor 12:9-10

All I need to do is remember all this tomorrow morning, when faced with the blank page that is my day.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Consider the Lilies of the Field

"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."(Matthew 6:28-29 ESV)

Over my 40+ years I've heard or read this verse hundreds of times. Yet, since I've been hanging out with Seedling #1 it's taken on new meaning. Now, when I think about "lilies of the field" I picture Seedling #1 running, dancing, playing...a big smile on her face; her curls bouncing, eyes flashing. Add in to the equation child-like faith and I've got the perfect picture of how life should be for believers...not a care in the world, with total trust in their Father. Now, when I hear this verse, I always smile. I feel a certain warmth in my soul when this picture enters my mind.

When I was her age and younger, I'm sure I felt this way, but I don't really remember those carefree days. I long for heaven when those days return and I get to live them out for eternity - along with Seedling #1 and all the others.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Question of the Day

Why do I believe the words of discouragement that I tell myself more readily than the words of encouragement? Why do the encouraging words sound so thin, so patronizing, so juvenile?

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words?

It's been said a picture is worth a thousand words, but pictures of me never match the thousand words that I think they should. Pictures of me never seem to portray what I'm thinking or feeling at the time. Pictures of me are never reflect how pretty, or how ugly, or how thin, or how fat I felt at the time the button was pushed. So I guess, like garage sale items, pics of me are worth a lot less than they were when originally procured.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Thoughts on Heaven

2002/2003 was a difficult time for me. The church I attended went through some terrible times and I felt it necessary to leave. My employer of 21 years closed. I had to have my dog put down. I lost much of what I treasured, what gave me purpose in the space of 9 months and I was devastated.

I have since been attending a great church where I have grown spiritually. Though currently unemployed, I had 2 jobs in this time frame, neither of which was as fulfilling as my previous one, but they provided a salary and I didn't lack for anything. I have two dogs (and many visiting ones) that I love. None of the originals have been "replaced"; they never could. There was only one Metro, one Evangelical Free Church, one Coach for that time for the person I was at that time. But...

God has promised that the losses I've experienced are not for nothing and He will replace them with something so much better - in heaven. In heaven I will have pets (yes, plural). I don't know if they will be the pets I had here on earth (Coach, Dusty, Priscilla, Grace, Dora, Lucy...) or if they will be new ones. I'd like the latter, but I'll trust God's judgement. I'll have a job, though not as a hospital purchasing agent. There will be no need for hospitals in heaven! And Best of all, there will be only one church of one mind and spirit; a church that will never have infighting, theological differences or doctrinal debates. This church will worship perfectly the one true Perfect God.

Until then, I bide my time, trusting God with the current and future circumstances of my remaining days on earth.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tending the Garden(ers)

It's no secret that there are a lot of children in my life, though none of them belong to me. I often blog about the Barblings. As explained in a previous post, they are my best friend's daughters. I refer to them as Barblings because it's easier than typing a lengthy explanation of who they are each time. In addition, understanding the possible dangers associated with revealing names (especially those of children) on the internet, I choose to respect their privacy and use a pseudonym.

Now, during my unemployed state, I've been spending more time with a friend/neighbor/sister in Christ and her four children. They've given me some fodder for possible posts, but I needed a name for them. Today the thought struck me - Seedlings. Those of you who know me well and travel in the same circle should understand the name. If you don't, let me know and maybe I'll explain it to you.

Why I'm Single?

I appreciate a hot bath more when I'm cold to the bone. I appreciate a cool shower more when I'm dirty, hot and sweaty from working in the yard. Maybe I'm experiencing the loneliness of being single in order to more greatly appreciate the intimacy with God when I get to heaven????

Sunday, May 30, 2010


life's autumn days
filling time with "to do" list
waiting for the end

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blessed Be the Tie that Binds

Dedicated to the Kriebel Family

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

-John Fawcett

This hymn was on my mind during a recent visit with my friend Emily. We hadn't seen each other in over 10 years, keeping in touch via informal emails, Christmas letters (hers, not mine. I've never written one), and Facebook. But our meeting just picked up where we'd left off. Our conversations were not just filled with anecdotes and current events, but with some intimate revelations, thoughts and spiritual insights. It was such a blessing seeing our Lord at each other's lives and in our relationship.

When I first got to her house, I met her son, Joe (11) who chatted a bit and played piano for me. Later, while she and I sat at the dining room table catching up, her son, David (15?) played guitar while daughter, Christie (16?) sang. Then husband, Wayne (age not revealed) joined the concert. Later, I met James (12/13?) and Will (~22?). Jon (20/21?) and Katie (19) were unavailable. Despite the time lag of our last visit, there was no awkwardness or shyness. And her family welcomed me and went about there home life quite naturally, as if strangers visit and sleep on their couch all the time. I felt at home in a place I'd never been.

I'd refer to Em as a college friend, but during our visit I realized we'd never attended college together. Emily had transferred to PSU's Main Campus by the time I was at Behrend. It was through mutual friends in the Behrend College Christian Association that we met at a fall weekend retreat. Then, those mutual friends might refer to Em or me in conversations. So it just seemed like we'd always been friends all along.

When she graduated, Emily moved to Erie for about 6 months. We hung out a bit during that time. Then I visited her when she moved to North Carolina. I went to her wedding in Virginia and visited she and her husband a time or two again. But thinking back, our real connection, the tie that binds us is Jesus. It's He that allowed us to pick up our conversation as if no time had elapsed. It's He that allowed us to meet again without stumbling and stammering, having to reintroduce ourselves, deciding on how much we could trust each other or how personal our conversation could be.

Heaven will be like this. I will meet people like Rahab, Sarah Edwards and Corrie Ten Boom and not feel inadequate. I will sit down and drink tea with CS Lewis and not be afraid of saying something stupid. Of course, I'll say something stupid but we'll both have a great laugh and he'll tell me about all the stupid things he said, as well.

Thank you, Kriebels for that taste of heaven here on earth.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the LORD

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!"
Ps 150:6
As I was reading this the other day, I thought about those things that have breath. My dogs, plants, even the creek across the street from my home. All have "breath". That is, they all have some sort of oxygen exchange. How do they praise the LORD?
They praise the LORD just by doing that for which they were created. When Grace and Dora bark at the mailman or nap on the couch, they are praising the LORD. When the trees bud, flower, drop their leaves and even when they lay dormant, they are praising the LORD. Four Mile Creek praises the LORD as it runs over the rocks and stones, traveling to Lake Erie.
None of these earn a salary. They don't review day planners trying to eke out every last productive moment in their schedule (although Dora might chew a day planner if the opportunity presents itself). Yet, on a regular basis, they accomplish just what is expected by God.
How many Franklin Planner owners can claim this?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

The calendar may show it's still winter, but according to my dogs, spring has sprung. This is evident by the constant twitching of their noses, taking in all the new scents freed from their icebergs.

Grace & Dora's noses seem to be acting as light switches for their eyes, which brighten with every flutter of their nostrils. The lights are powered by the swishing of their tales, like the cranks on old automobiles.

Canine senses are much more finely tuned than mine, but watching their reactions gives me an appreciation and excitement for God's creation, though I cannot see, hear or smell what they do. Sharing our spiritual experiences- trials as well as triumphs-is like this. One may not understand what I'm feeling, but they can see that God is working and they can rejoice. Just as I rejoice walking with Grace & Dora as they sniff out our Father's world.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where's The Snooze Alarm Button?

My biological clock is ticking loudly. I hear the tick-tock everywhere - at the grocery store when I see a mother pushing a cart with a child in the seat; at work where I see new parents taking there infant to it's first pediatrician's appointment.
It's natural - not because of cultural issues, not for hormonal reasons, not because of TV, and other media pressures. It goes further than that - back to creation. I was created (not just biologically, but put together and planned for childbirth). It was a command of God. And having been made in His Image it's only natural that I would want to have something in my image as well - a baby.
And sin ruined it all. It makes me angry that because of sin, I don't get what I want - what I was made for. Is this righteous anger?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Carol of the Shelves

It's not even noon, yet and so far today I've picked up around the house, shoveled the sidewalk, ran an errand outside the house and hung some shelves in my kitchen window. If I'd done nothing other than hang the shelves; if I do nothing else today with the remaining 12-1/2 hours, I would consider the day a success because of the shelves.

When I moved in to my house in 1996 I thought a few shelves in the kitchen window would be a pretty place to grow a few plants, display some pretty glasses or bottles, etc. And the window has remained barren since that thought first crossed my mind. There isn't even a curtain or a valance in the window. In fact, it's not a window at all but a piece of plexiglass screwed in and duct taped to the wall - it doesn't even have a window frame. (Odd, I know, but I don't care to get explain right now. I have another purpose to this post.)

Today I decided to finally do it. Since I'm unemployed, I have some spare time on my hands. However, since I'm unemployed, I don't have spare cash in my hands. Therefore, I purposed to use various materials (aka "junk") sitting in my basement. I used some scrap pieces of wood, some old rusted screws, etc and hung the shelves.

Since I did not use quality materials and my home repair skills are below basic, the workmanship is not great - in fact, it's laughably shoddy. But I'm proud of the result. And there's the problem - or at least what I think is a problem. (Please comment and let me know if this is or is not a problem.)

The pride in the job is not the issue. I completed a project that I'd wanted done for almost 14 years and I didn't spend a dime. I used my time and my money well - something for which I'm not always noted. But as I was looking at the poor workmanship I thought it would have been a lot better if only I'd asked someone who knew what they were doing to help me. Why didn't I? Is there another kind of pride at work here?

I think I didn't ask because, since I'm single, I feel I'm supposed to be self-sufficient. I'm supposed to be able to do these things on my own or at the very least hire someone to do them. I don't want to impose on anyone - especially for something as trivial as shelves. Those around me have spouses and children to care for. They have their own homes to maintain. And if by chance they do have some free time, they should spend quality time with their families, not hanging shelves in my kitchen window.

As I think this through, I see-saw back and forth. There is truth on both sides. And there are lies, on both sides as well. Where's the balance? What am I missing?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

30 Steps to A Perfect Life and Other Lies

I am drawn to books and articles that offer solutions to life's problems in "x" number of steps. Clear and concise instructions with checklists appeal to my linear, methodical way of thinking. Just like various fad diets, they all work if you only can stick to them. But really, how many times can one perfectly repeat a mantra? How many bowls of cabbage soup can one stand?

These articles are nothing more than stylized, heavily marketed versions of the Law and they're lies. They don't work because we're human, we fail, we make mistakes, we become lazy or distracted by other more pressing obligations. The sense of failure when we slip up is devastating and damages our spirits, as well as our bodies.

But there is something/someone that does work - Jesus. "For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh..." Romans 8:3

Deep breathing has it's place in managing stress. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a healthy practice. Counting to ten before hitting "Send" on a scathing email is a really good idea. But to look to these practices to solve life's problems is futile and leads to even further frustration and disappointment. Pursuing the various programs presented at newsstands and websites have no long-term success because they are not pursued by faith. Correction, they are not pursued by faith in the Sovereign God. Putting one's faith in the program is destined for failure; putting one's faith in God (and we can, only because of Jesus) will always succeed.

Even frustration, though, has it's purpose. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from it's bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." Rom 8:20-21. Success is not defined by how many pounds one loses or accomplishing a debt free life. Success is freedom from bondage to sin and Law. Success is freedom from the disappointment experienced from mistakes and failures and injustices. Success is leaning on God's grace and mercy.