Monday, March 28, 2011

To Do the Will of God

I would like to share some spiritual thoughts.  To throw out some ideas for you to ponder or to chew on and to do with as you will.

For this exercise to work properly you should know where I stand, what I believe.  I believe in personal revelation from God.  I believe that He speaks to each of us.  In our hearts.  In our minds.  Through a feeling of peace when we hear truth spoken by others.  I believe that He speaks to each of us differently, knowing us as He does, in a way we will understand.

And I believe that many of us choose not to listen.

We turn to Him when we have a question or concern.  Sometimes we even remember to turn to Him in gratitude, just because we feel blessed.  I wonder how often we turn to Him as a servant, a disciple.

We ask what we should do at this particular time, within the framework of our current life and situation.  We ask what direction we should go or path we should take to meet our goals.  We read His words in the holy scriptures or hear it from His servants and look at our life.  We interpret what He would have us do and ask how we should do that.

These are good things.  These are honorable questions and choices.

But I wonder how often we lay it all on the table.  How often we say "Thy will be done" and mean it with our whole heart and life.  We mean it in this instance.  With this situation.  Do we mean it with all that we have and all that we are?

And so I would ask (rhetorically) what are you willing to sacrifice to do the will of God?  Do you ask what He would choose to make of your life if you offered it freely to Him?  And if you ask, do you sincerely listen to the answer and follow through on your offer?

Imagine you are young, say 25, and you ask this of God.  And He communicates to you that He has a very important work for you, but that in order to do this work you will have to be blind.  If you accept this assignment your eyesight will begin to fail and you will be blind before you are 30.  Then you will be ready to do His work.  Would you accept?

Or you are newly married and eager to begin your family.  You ask God how He would use your life and your talents.  He tells you that you will be a leader among women and touch many hearts.  But to qualify you for this role you will be asked to do hard things.  You will get pregnant many times but will not carry a child to term.  You will never hold your living child in your arms.  Would you be willing to carry this burden to serve Him?

What if you are well established in your profession, a giant in your community, and He asks you to give away everything you have and start a new life of simplicity?  Having little materially and working hard to serve others?  Could you let all that go if you knew it was what He wanted?

I ask these questions and put forth these possibilities because I think this is what prevents us from asking.  I believe most of us do not ask, do not offer our whole lives, because we are afraid of the answer.  We have a plan for our life.  Our goals are righteous.  Our hearts are pure.  We will ask His direction as we work toward our goals, but we know what we want to do with our life.

Do we know what He wants to do with it?

Smartly Essay -- Spring Tease

I have an essay up today over at Smartly about how spring teases us, how she toys with our emotions.  Even still, she's always worth the wait.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Beautiful Neighborhood

Tonight, as I let the dog in, I took the opportunity to admire my neighborhood.  I stood on my porch and looked at the homes within my immediate view and was overwhelmed with love and gratitude.

I am incredibly fortunate to live in my neighborhood.  I love the location.  I love the view from my porch.  But most of all, I love my neighbors.

There are some younger than us, some older than us, and a few of the wise and wonderful generation.  And each of them has touched my life in some way.

Our immediate neighbors have been incredibly understanding and forgiving during times when the volume between my husband and me was intense.  And again when my children held a picnic on their porch and didn't clean it up.  They have been kind and helpful.  They have watched over us.  They have been an emergency contact for my children when we were away; I felt comforted knowing they were there for my kids.

The ones on the other side I don't know as well.  The parents only speak Spanish and I don't.  We haven't really connected verbally.  But they have been polite and friendly.  We wave at each other with a big smile.  Even without many words, there is a tenderness there.  An understanding that we are neighbors.

Across the street is my neighbor who is 95 (give or take a year).  He frequently walks across the street and visits with me and my kids when we're in the yard.  He brings us produce from his garden.  He talks to my kids about the activities they are involved with.  He tells me about his family and all that they are up to.  And he loves us.  In the way he talks to us and smiles at us, I know that he does.

And all along the street I can see people who are kind to me.  People who have helped me.  People who look out for me and my kids.  People who see when I'm having a bad day and give me a hug.  People who look past the irritating things we do and are still our friends.  People who've had hard times and learned lessons and shared them.  People who speak with love from their heart.  People who are open to connecting and aren't afraid of being loved.

I hear of people who don't get along with their neighbors or who live in unsafe neighborhoods and I am sad.  I wish everyone had a neighborhood like I do.

Each of these people has touched my heart.  Each of them has served me at one time or another.  And if asked each of them would probably say that they didn't do much.  But isn't that the point of a neighborhood?  If we all do a little to take care of each other, everything important will get done.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Smartly Essay -- Yes, Dear

I have a new essay up over at Smartly today.  Just a few more tales about my husband.  Seriously, it's amazing that he's still alive.  You'll like these stories.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Diary

I often see bloggers begin a post with an apology for having been absent for a while.  When I see this it reminds me of how like a diary a blog can be.  I remember as a teen that most of my diary entries started the same way.

I've never been a good journal keeper.  I have friends and family who are so good at taking note of what's happening in their lives, who write in a journal religiously.  My entries were sporadic, but I tried.  I have a few recorded memories of those difficult years when everything is wrong and the world just doesn't understand you.

Today I have chosen to share one.  I do this mostly for my daughter who is just leaving that time of her life.  So that she can know that I struggled with similar things.  And so she can laugh at my drama.

This entry would have been during my junior year in high school, shortly before I turned 17.  I typed it exactly as it appeared, including punctuation mistakes and lost focus.

November 29, 1986
I think I'm going to go insane.  I'm still waiting for a letter from Kevin and my "dad" and I just had another fight.

He probably doesn't even know we've had a fight.  He just told me another flaw he doesn't like about me is that I'm getting sarcastic.  I wish he'd notice something good in me for a change.  It seems like he's only pleased with me once a year.  Last year it was my "Outstanding Sophomore Award" and this year it's my stupid grades.

While once a year he notices a good thing he points out hundreds of mistakes, I already know about, the rest of the year.  It'll be so good when Ryan comes home because I'm going to stay with my Grandma Conover so that Kay can have my room.

It'll be great to get away from my dad & Chris for two weeks, off & on.  They drive me totally insane on a day to day basis.

I think I'm going to die if I don't get a letter from Kevin soon.  I've been living the past week just waiting for the mail so that I could see if it had come yet.

I seem to be getting depressed more and more lately.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's all the pressure I'm getting from my parents.  My mom doesn't even realize that she pressures me, too.

I mean they're so happy when I get good grades that I'm scared to let them know if I really start having problems.

I've been thinking about Kevin all the time lately and I don't know what I'm going to do.  I'm in an awful situation.  I don't know how he feels and I don't know how I feel.  Our relationship is going to be almost frozen for the next two years.  Oh, that sounds like such a long time.  I'm gonna die!

Love Always,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When Disaster Strikes

It's been two days since the world turned upside down for thousands of people in Japan.  Two days of the rest of the world watching, with so many hoping and praying.  So many people wondering if their loved ones were okay.  Waiting for news.  Hoping for the best.

I only know one person in Japan.  A man I knew shortly after college.  A man I had a flirtation with.  A very sweet, tender-hearted man.  And through the magic of facebook we have been able to reconnect.  We exchange very little, but I am able to get small glimpses into his life every so often.  I feel like he is still my friend.

Today I found out that he and his wife are safe.  And I exhaled.  Because in a very real way I had been holding my breath for the last two days.  Checking facebook more often than usual just to see if he's posted.  Offering many prayers and thinking of him.

Because that was all I could do. 

And when disaster strikes that is often all any of us can do.  Wait.  Hope.  Think.  Pray.  And amid all the horror that has been happening (and will for some time to come) there has been beauty.  Beauty in seeing the rescue efforts under way.  Beauty in nations offering help to other nations.  An unknown brotherhood discovered as earthquake and rescue experts from California travel to Japan to help their family in need.  And the incredible outpouring of love and concern.

There are people who are oblivious, I suppose.  Who don't know what's going on or take time to care.  There may even be those who think it's a good thing because of some prejudice they have or a hard-heartedness about human life.  But I don't have time for those people.

The ones I see are those whose hearts are breaking open full of love and concern.

And while the word disaster generally makes us think of massive things, disasters can also be tiny in scale.  It can be a disaster even if it only affects a few people.  The loss of a child.  Receiving a diagnosis of a terrible disease.  Watching Alzheimer's transform someone you love into someone who doesn't know you.  So many things.

I hope we remember to allow our hearts to be broken open for those disasters, too.  Because while we can't save the world, we can touch lives. 

I can't fix the buildings that fell down.  I can't give everyone clean drinking water.  I can't bring back the people who were lost. 

So I offer what I can.  I offer my prayers because I never run out -- I have enough for everyone.  And I offer my heart.  Because no matter how full it is, no matter how many people I hold in my heart, there is always room for one more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Power Songs

I can admit it.  When I started therapy a few years ago I was lost.  My life was a mess, everything from my past was catching up with me and holding me hostage, and I had no idea who I was.  It was an ugly time.

While I think we all routinely redefine ourselves, some of us have more trouble with it.  If you've ever been in an abusive situation, where you had to be the person your abuser wanted you to be in order to be safe, it is so much more difficult.

As I worked through some things I began to discover who I was.  I began to choose who I would be.  Part of this process for me was putting together some power songs.  I put together three cds of music that help me center myself.  Connect with my soul.  Find my power core again.

Each song was chosen for a reason.  I wanted to accept and represent the many facets of who I am.  It would take too long to explain them all, so instead I broke them down into basic categories. 

I provided links so you could check out the song if you wanted to.  Please remember to be wise in your time management.  I am not responsible if you start clicking and find yourself wasting an hour (or more). 

Also, I'd love to hear about any power songs you might have.

I am strong all by myself:
   *I Will Survive
   *Independent Woman
I am in charge of my life - I set my rules - I deserve respect:
   *Boss of Me
   *We're Not Gonna Take It
   *It's My Life
   *Any Man of Mine
I am powerful - I can change the world:
   *Wonder Woman Theme
   *Man in the Mirror
I am a sexual being - I can be bad if I want to
   *Need You Tonight
   *Hot Blooded
   *Hurts So Good
   *It's Raining Men
   *Like a Virgin
   *Hungry Like the Wolf
   *Devil Inside
Self-definition - PMS songs:
   *Cold as Ice
   *Witchy Woman
   *You Gotta Be
Gallows humor - Irreverent - I want to inflict pain
   *Dirty Deeds
   *Dirty Laundry
   *Little Black Backpack
   *Bark at the Moon
I hate men - men suck - daddy issues:
   *Where Have All the Cowboys Gone
   *Voices Carry
   *When Doves Cry
   *No Scrubs
   *I Kicked a Boy
   *There You Go
Just love the song - fun to sing:
   *Major Tom
   *Lady Marmalade
   *I Like it Like That
   *This is Halloween
   *Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
   *I'm Like a Bird
   *What I Am
   *Scar Tissue
   *Ugly Girl
   *Bad Moon Rising
   *Try Again
   *Juke Box Hero
   *Zombie (dance mix)
   *El Tango de Roxanne
   *Whip It

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Smartly Essay -- Hollywood

I have a new essay up over at Smartly.  It's all about how Hollywood Has Messed Me Up for Life.  I mean, seriously, why can't my life be like the movies?

You'll understand after you read it.  So go.  Now.  Read it.