Friday, October 30, 2009

A Season of Change

Red-gold beauties; a tree on fire.
God speaks as though to Moses: "See me, I am."
I stand in dumb silence;
Tears watering my cheeks I kick off my clogs,
For here is sacred ground.

"I will change you like this tree"
He whispers in my soul's ear.
"For as there is a season to grow,
So there is one to prune,
And reap, and harvest, and lie fallow."

"Now is the season to grow,"
Said the Spirit-Voice inside my head.
"Yet the old leaf must fall to make room for the new.
And some of your leaves, while beauties,
Do not have eternal value."

I cast doubting eyes to the ground;
Resting on a leaf of beauty,
Perfect in size and colour, yet left to rot.
"You would prefer it rot on the branch?" asks the Voice.
"No," I reply. "Make way for the new leaf."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

... A Bowl Full of Cherries

Life really is like a bowl full of cherries. Or was that a box full of chocolates? Well, to me life is like a bowl full of cherries. Think about a cherry: It's meaty, substantative, firm yet yielding, has a hard center, and can be tart if it hasn't had time to ripen. It takes work to take off the stem and spit out the seed, but when you get a cherry that's perfectly ripe it's like heaven.

I think that's a little bit how I am, you know? I require effort, and I've got a hardness that has to be gotten around, but in general I am sweet and pliable to the person who allows me to reach my potential.

So yeah, cherries.

And if you're wondering about the strawberries, they're just in the picture. But I bet you could come up with something. Why don't you? I do love to get comments. :)

Wit & Wisdom Wednesday

Time for Wit & Wisdom Wednesday, where I post a quote from a well-known (or not so well-known) person. Please feel free to comment with quotes that have touched your soul.


"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."

~Author Unknown~

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So Why Do You Believe (or not)?

I need your help! Please read below for a survey I'm doing for a class.

Full disclosure: I am a Christian. I love Jesus and he's absolutely gone on me, which is evidenced by the fact that he died to save me from an eternity of separation from God on account of my own sin. But because I accepted that, I'm guaranteed a spot in Heaven, no matter how well or poorly I finish out this life. (Of course, I hope to do well.)

More Full Disclosure: I am taking a 2-year post-graduate level leadership course through my church, and I'm supposed to be talking about Jesus to some people this quarter. Problem is, most of the people I've "met" lately are online.

So here's my plan. I'm going to put a few questions below, and I'd simply love it if you commented, honestly, with your answers. Christian, Buddist, Athiest, Whatever you call yourself, I would be honored if you would take a few minutes to answer this survey. I will answer all comments via email so please make sure you've got your email set up, especially if you have any interest in engaging me in discussion, asking your own questions, giving me feedback on this survey, whatever. If you would like to send your answers directly to me you may email me at

Thank you in advance!
  1. Do you identify with a specific religious type (Christian, Hindu, etc) and if so, which?
  2. What is the very first thing you think when you see the word "Christian?"
  3. Please list both a positive and a negative effect that you believe Christianity has had on the world.
  4. What does it mean to "be a Christian?"
  5. If you are not a Christian, is there a reason why (grew up in another faith, had a bad experience, etc.)?
  6. If you are a Christian, why are you (it's just what you do, you had a personal experience of God, etc)?
  7. How do you know that someone is a Christian?
  8. Have you ever verbally, out loud, accepted Christ into your heart, admitting that you were a sinner, that He died to save you from the consequences of your sin, and embracing Him as your hope for a new life?
  9. If not, would you like to?

Thank you!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's the Same Old Thing... And It's New Every Time

When's the last time that you read the Bible? Do you have a favorite verse? Have you ever done the Bible-in-a-year reading program?

I'm taking VLI (Vineyard Leadership Institute) and since it's a church-based leadership program, we do a LOT of talking about the Bible. Like, a lot. I just finished reading Matthew, Mark and Luke (in one night, I'm pretty impressed with myself).

But what I find the most amazing is that no matter how many times you read something in the Bible, there's always something new. Really there is. Think about it this way--have you ever watched a movie at the theater and you love it so as soon as it's out on DVD you buy it and watch it over and over? And maybe the second time you realize that the kid really IS wearing red in all of the important scenes, and the third time you catch a line that didn't make sense the first two times and you just laughed because everyone else did, and the fourth time it suddenly dawns on you that yes, that is the girl from Braveheart.

OK, so think about it like that, only Biblical.

Really honestly, you can read the same book, chapter, and even verse over and over and over again and get something new out of it each time. Of course you do have to want to.

But just last week I was starting Matthew for this VLI project, and I figured it would be a fast read, right? Yeah... until verse 5. Yeah, not book 5. Book one, verse 5. The geneology that everyone skips over. Where it says that Rahab is the mother of Boaz.

Wait, Rahab the prostitute?

So now suddenly I'm thumbing through the Old Testament, trying to find that one book where Rahab hangs a red scarf outside her window so her family will be saved because she was promised her life in thanks for hiding Joshua's men. And of course it doesn't say who she marries. But two books later is Ruth, the one about Ruth and Boaz (right, the son of this "Rahab" woman). Hmmmm...

So what on earth did I get out of this, you might ask. Well it came to me that God doesn't look at "who" we are, but rather He looks at our hearts and our willingness to do His will, no matter how hard or scary or unpopular it may be. And I realized that His rewards for doing His will are way cooler than the world's rewards. I mean, come on, Rahab is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Savior of us all.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wit & Wisdom Wednesday

Time for Wit & Wisdom Wednesday, where I post a quote from a well-known (or not so well-known) person. Please feel free to comment with quotes that have touched your soul.
"I'd rather change my mind and succeed than have my own way and fail."

~Felix Lugo~
"There Is No Rest for Success"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Picture Perfect

Where do you live? A city? On a mountain? In a suburb? Do you know that you live in God's good creation? That He designed the very earth on which you walk and created the seasons which sustain your life and the very air that you breathe?

I admit, it's harder to think about it that way when you live in a city and the only true green you see is the astroturf field in front of the grade school down the block.

But it's true. God, the maker of Heaven and Earth--He created earth for us, for you, to live on, to sustain your life, and on which to live out His will.

Maybe it's hard to believe that this planet was created by a Creator, that it didn't just "happen" to be in exactly the right spot around a sun exactly the right temperature, with exactly the right size moon giving us exactly the right tilt which created the exact right seasons... no, maybe you do believe it's all chance.

Well there's not a lot I can say to that. Which is why a picture is worth a thousand words, because when we are silent, even the very rocks will cry out His name.

And no matter where we live, we can remember that God, our Father, created it just for us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Man I Come Home To

We've been living together for 8 years, and I still love him just as much as I did the first time I saw him. Our relationship can be rocky at times, but the end of the day he's the one who sleeps in my bed with me every night.

I'm talking, of course, about my cat, Mau-be.

I feel that it's time I fully introduce you to the love of my life. I am single, and I have a cat. I am not the cat lady. Despite the fact that I call him (and sometimes hold him like) my baby, he is not a substitute for a child. I will tell stories involving him when others are talking about their kids, but that's because I can only talk about what I know, and that would be life with him.

(Ok, I'm sure you're thinking "the lady doth protest too much," but I want to make it perfectly clear. This is not a "look at my kitty he's the best kitty in the world" post. This is an introduction to a character who will pop up from time to time in my posts. He's totally not my child-subsitute. I didn't even like it when they gave him my last name at the vet. Too weird.)

So, I got Mau-be from a friend at work who had taken in a pregnant cat. The interesting thing is I was supposed to get a different kitten, but his girlfriend offered it to a friend of hers the same day that he offered it to me. Mau-be, formerly "GT," was supposed to be the one kitten they kept, until he was informed by his landlord that he couldn't have more than one cat. So it turned out I was to get a kitten after all.

The funny thing is, I was allergic to cats at the time.

But I had hope, because while I was allergic to the furry devils guinea pigs my sisters kept taking home at the end of the year in grade school, I would only have about 3 days of itchy, sneezy agony before it suddenly clicked and I was ok. It was the weirdest thing.

I used to think I was allergic to cats because when I was young and I would go to the farm that our family friends' parents owned, I would run after all the kittens and squeeze the poor little things much too tightly (I was like 4, what did I know?) and the allergy was my payback. I think God decided to set that record straight, however, because after about a week of itchy, sneezy agony of having a cat, something just clicked and I was ok. Like, I can rub my face in his belly and not sneeze ok. Like, clearly no major allergies ok.

When I got Mau-be I was told I could rename him to anything I wanted, as long as it wasn't Shadow or Blackie or Midnight. I had just, coincidentally, finished reading a book about the Vietnam War, and it happened to include some Vietnemese words. "Mau," onomatopoetically enough, means "cat." "Mau-be," then, means "big cat," or tiger. I spent a few days trying it out but in the end those golden eyes got me and I knew he was my tiger.

He was also the most leggy cat the vet had ever seen. Do you see that in the picture up there? Pretty amazing. I think it's good though, 'cause he tries so very hard to get fat and the long legs help him look thinner. (Yes I like to give my cat issues. Deal with it. I also feed him people food.)

The day after I got Mau-be I had an evening Bible study, so I wasn't home for about 14 hours. The poor little guy had to fend for himself away from his mom, in a brand new place all alone. I felt wretched the whole time. And then when I got home he was sitting right in front of the door, ever so relieved that I had returned through the magic hole in the wall. So now that I've also given him separation anxiety, he meets me at the door every night. Well, sometimes he tends to saunter past it as though he just happened to be in the vicinity, but I know he's been waiting for me. But if I leave him alone for a weekend (I sooo love how you can do that) he gets especially clingy the day I come home.

One of the big downsides to my new life of never being at home, besides not ever doing the dishes, is that the poor guy really doesn't get a lot of attention any more. Since I have been coming home and sitting down at the computer, he's decided that his new favorite place is my desk. Conspicuously so. I call this one "Cat and Mouse."

And even when I'm actively using the computer:

It's just so cute I can't hardly kick him off. He also has mastered the fine art of sleeping balanced between my chest and the desk. I really don't know how or why he does it, but if it keeps him from sitting in the hallway and mewling piteously until I throw things at him, then have at it. (I would have shown you a picture, but do you know how hard it is to take a photo of yourself with a cat draped over your torso whilst sitting at the computer and you can only use your cell phone because you can't actually reach the camera because of the kitty? Yeah, that didn't really happen.)

Ironially now that I'm writing all about him, he's stretched out on the couch, ignoring me completely. Oh well, he wouldn't be a cat if he didn't. And I still love him. He is, after all, the only man who waits eagerly at my door for me to come home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dear You, I Love You. -- Me.

Dear one,

Beloved, Beautiful, Sweet, Passionate, Extravagant, Elegant and Wise. These are the words that come to my mind when I think on your name, your countenance, your grace, and your smile.

Know this: There isn't a single moment when I am not with you. When you look in the mirror, at your bank account, and on the missed call log on your phone I am there with you, and I know your worries, your fears, your guilt and your pain.

I read your email with you, I watch your status change on Facebook, and I listen in to your conversations at work. I know your thoughts, your desires, and the things you imagine when you are lying in your bed at night.

I weep when you cry. I smile when you laugh. I abide in you, and others see me through your eyes, your voice, your actions, your lovingkindness.

Fear not, for you are never alone. Your cries do not fall on deaf ears, for I comfort and sustain you. You ask When, and Where, and How, and I answer in my Good Timing, which is never wrong.

I am Love. I am the source of all that is Good and True and Beautiful and Kind and Just. And you are made in my likeness, and I have bestowed upon you Gifts of my choosing, Gifts that are for you and no one else. You did not receive anyone's leftovers and you have not been passed by. Look to your heart for its wisdom and your soul for its understanding, and wield your talents with the pride wrought of self-assuredness. For you are the Daughter of the King, a Daughter of Zion, a warrior-princess, and a bride brought into my presence clean and pure.

You were created by Love and bought by Blood. Let no man, no being in Heaven or on the Earth below wrest from you your inheritance, your birthright. For I have claimed you, and I do not willingly give up that on which I have placed my Name.

So rest, beloved, in my tender mercies. For no one loves you like I love you. And my love, cherished daughter, is eternal.



Wit & Wisdom Wednesday

Time for Wit & Wisdom Wednesday, where I post a quote from a well-known (or not so well-known) person. Please feel free to comment with quotes that have touched your soul.


"The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one."

~John Maxwell~

Monday, October 12, 2009

What's Love Scot-ta Do With It?

How do you receive love? Does your heart just melt when your special someone whispers those three little words... "I'll clean up?" Would you be filled with joy to get a new necklace from your sweetie, or would you prefer he spend the money on a sitter so you could go out to dinner and spend a couple of hours just the two of you? Or would you rather he just give you a nice, long, foot massage?
Have you read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? I waited forEVER to read it because often times when the whole world goes crazy for the new "it" book, I stay away from it for about two years. I didn't get into Harry Potter until book 3 came out, for example.**For my fellow single people, you can start with the original book, but be aware that it talks about the Marrieds like all the time. You may want to take The Five Love Languages for Singles as a starter.**

So I'm not trying to make this post an advert for the book, but I just thought since I recently shared some grammar guidelines, that maybe today I'd share some love vocabulary. Chapman isn't the be-all-and-end-all in writing about Love (see the Bible if you want an epic love story) but what his book does is give you a vocabulary.

How do we receive and give love? According to Chapman, in five ways (in no particular order): 
  1. Words of Affirmation - This can be just the words "I love you" or someone saying "Wow, you look great today" or "Thank you for making the sign for the play, you have the best penmanship." In this way, the words affirm [lift up, validate] who you are as a person.
  2. Physical Touch - No, you dirty person you, this isn't just about sex. That's part of it, but ask yourself if you're one of those "huggy" people. If you are, that could be one of the ways you give love to the people around you. It can also be as simple as touching someone on the arm during a conversation, expressing in a physical way the closeness that exists between the two of you.
  3. Acts of Service - Some people don't find it natural to say "I love you" to their spouse/parent/friend. But what they will do is wash their car, mow the lawn, do the laundry, any of a number of things that make life that much easier for the other person. They do it not just because "Tuesday is Laundry Day" but "because I love my family and I want them to be able to look their best without having to worry about washing or ironing their clothing."
  4. Giving Gifts - The people who receive love through gifts are not greedy people. As one of my friends once told me, I could buy her a 50-cent bouncy ball at the store and she would love it because it means I thought about her when she wasn't standing next to me, and I brought her back the thing that made me think of her. And yes, I did buy her a bouncy ball. And she loved it. :)
  5. Quality Time - Yes, watching TV can actually show you care. The person who values quality time may prefer to have face-to-face conversations, but sometimes simply being in the same room is enough. My mom realized that my step-dad enjoyed it when she stayed in the living room after dinner while he watched TV. Did she have to sit next to him and engage in conversation? No, she merely had to be nearby. So she would sit in her chair and do Sudoku instead of doing it in another room, and he would be content.
So, how do you give and receive love? Sometimes we are conditioned into giving love the way we saw our parents do it (in all the positive and negative ways) and so we are not in tune with what really touches our hearts. But try it this way--where do you feel the most lacking in your relationships? How do you finish the sentence: "If only my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend/sister would ________, then I would know that they loved me." Or finish this one "If only my [person] would stop __________, then I would know they loved me."

The really fun part with all of this is that if you suddenly realize that your husband never says "I love you," and you need that to affirm your relationship, the solution is NOT to tell him how he needs to change. The first step is to figure out HIS love language, and make sure you're actively speaking it. He will then know that you love him, and be more receptive to a request from you of a way he can reciprocate.

So what are my love languages, you ask? I took the quiz at the back of the book and we're supposed to have 2 top ones, so of course I had one top one and two that tied for second. So my primary love language is Words of Affirmation, which is somewhat obvious when you see all the emails I have posted in my office of people who have replied to me saying "thanks, you rock." My secondary love languages are Quality Time and Physical Touch. I may not be great at keeping in touch with people who don't live near me (sorry!) but if you're accessible and I like you, I will want to spend a LOT of time with you. Because just being with you makes me happy. And yes, I am a huggy person. In fact if I don't hug you or even come near you, you might pick up on how I feel about you even if I don't say a word.

In conclusion (I love being able to say that now that I'm not writing school papers), if you want to show me that you love me, all you have to do is cuddle with me for about 4 hours and tell me how wonderful I am the whole time. :)

So how do YOU give and receive love?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Affect/Effect Disorder

I was just reading a delightful post by Call Me Cate about people with whom she works who use... let's just call it "creative grammar."

I began to write a comment, then immediately opened a new window so I could type this, because let me tell you, grammar is soooo one of my buttons, and I thought you'd appreciate my shoving this tripe down your throat sharing my thoughts with you. I'll be the first to say that I don't always get the laid/lays/lying thing right (just ask my mom) but I've grown up around proper grammar. My mother is an editor, two of my aunts are English teachers, my favorite teacher in high school was my English teacher, and in college I minored in... wait for it... English.

So yeah a lot of writing, and proper sentence structure. More full disclosure: when my Mom was up at 4:30am writing the conclusion while I slept on a nearby chair helping me finish my English papers, she wasn't exactly taking the time to explain to me what a gerund was. I still couldn't tell you. But, short of a phrase subtlely using laid/lays/lying improperly, I can spot a badly written sentence at 50 paces and have it fixed before you can figure out the whole laid/lays/lying problem anyway.

Now, proper grammar does not a millionaire make (unless you sell a lot of how-to-write books). It does not make you more good looking, and doesn't give you funny stories to tell at parties unless you hobnob with other word geeks literati. But proper grammar can often be the cherry on top when you're at a job interview, trying to get a book published, or just trying to avoid making your literate friends' heads explode. So here is a very short list of some of my favorites, in no particular order:
  • Homonyms: Those are two words that are spelled and pronounced exactly the same but are different words. Plane and Plane... one is a flat and level surface, and one is a verb that means to glide or soar.
  • Homophones: These are words that sound alike but are not spelled alike. Plane and Plain.One is a flat surface, and the other is fairly uninteresting-looking.
  • Homographs: These are words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently. Try this one: "Yesterday I read the book you told me to read." Go ahead, say it out loud. You'll get it.
  • The Affect/Effect Disorder: Beware of words that are really really close in both spelling and pronunciation but are different words, like affect and effect. The first causes the second. The weather affected my sinuses, the effect of which was a headcold.
  • You/Your/You're Outta Here!: Three different words, people. "You're so sweet, I can't believe you gave me your favorite purse."
  • Laid/Lays/Lying down on the job: Yes this is my achilles heel, but if I think hard enough, I can figure it out. You lay something down, you yourself lie down. If you are laying yourself down to sleep (praying the Lord your soul to keep) then your body is actually the object in the sentence that you are laying down. But if you say "I'm gonna go lay down," a superior grammatically-enhanced person will ask you what you are going to lay down, and possibly where.
I could go on. My favoritest English teacher Mr. Lester gave us a list of close to 200 rules for writing proper papers. I may not follow them all the time, but believe me, it helps me be a better person. Or something. :)

Wit & Wisdom Wednesday

Time for Wit & Wisdom Wednesday, where I post a quote from a well-known (or not so well-known) person. Please feel free to comment with quotes that have touched your soul.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
~Albert Einstein~

PS. I am a strong, independent woman. I also understand that these quotes come in context. I refuse to replace "man" with "person" and "he" with "he/she" if it would end up becoming a distraction. If the quote applies to you, take it. Figure out your own pronouns. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Squozen n. Skwo-zen. The effect of squeezing too many (or close to too many) activities into one's schedule. "My life is squozen into days that are just too short."

I am not a joiner. I am not good at networking (yet) and I am comfortably slothful.

Yet, suddenly that's changed.

I will start this by saying yes I'm single. No I don't have to balance this all with children and a husband and two dogs that need to be walked, but you know, we're each on our own path.

So yeah, I'm suddenly a very very busy person. I helped plan and organize a women's retreat for my church last weekend, during which I sang backup for the very very first time in both of our worship sessions. This coming Saturday is a wine and truffle-tasting event to raise money for PEO, a group that sets up and gives out funds to women to further their education, and somehow I'm the one who offered to get my friend who makes amazing truffles to add to what was originally just a wine tasting. And I'm in DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) which meets once a month but I'm also an admin for our Facebook group pages, so I try to keep up with that regularly. I'm in charge of our A/V team at church for worship and other than being "on" for the rest of the month, I am trying to organize training times for two people who are thinking about joining (hooray). And I just started taking VLI (Vineyard Leadership Institute) which is a two-year, post-graduate-level Biblically-based leadership training program that meets once a week for 4 hours. Oh, and I'm the site coordinator, which besides giving me a discount also increases the amount of time I have to spend doing stuff for it. Oh, and I have a job.

So here's my schedule:
Monday: Work 9-6pm | Zumba 7-8pm | 45-60 minutes to get home
Tuesday: Work 9-6pm | Housegroup 7:30-9:30pm | 45-60 minutes to get home
Wednesday: Work 9-6pm | 1st Wed of month PEO 7:30-9:30pm | 30-60 minutes to get home
Thursday: Work 9-6pm | Zumba 7-8pm | 45-60 minutes to get home
Friday: Work 9-6pm | 3rd Friday of month prayer group at church 7-11pm | 45-60 minutes to get home
Saturday: 9:30-12:30 worship practice (when I'm on) | sleeeeeep when I'm not on
Sunday: 8am-1pm church if I'm on worship, 10:30-1 if not | Most likely will nap at church | VLI 6-10pm | 30 minutes to get home.

Squozen indeed.