The Nutcracker

>> Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I haven't really been able to sit and write for long lately.  I think the Christmas season has just worn me down a bit - it usually does.  This time of the year tends to be more stressful at work for some strange reason, so I normally come home and zone out completely.  It's good to let the brain rest every now and then.
My gorgeous daughter Isabel got to see the Nutcracker today on a school field trip.  Of course, a trip to the ballet means having to dress up and take beautiful pictures, so I thought I'd share some.  I can't believe she is 7 years old, but she has maturity well beyond her years (and my years too), a heart of gold and always knows what to say at just the right time.





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Some Lessons are Learned the Hard Way

>> Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Kristin
November 13, 1979 - November 18, 2011
Those who mourn Kristin's sudden passing include her daughters, parents, brother, and other loving family and friends. Despite her emotional and mental pain, she found much happiness and pride in her dear daughters whose love was her most precious gift. Her study and gifted expression of ballet had been a source of joy to her for many years. Now the chains of suffering no longer bind her. That beautiful, compassionate and graceful spirit is free to dance among us and into the loving arms of the One who always claimed her as child. Those of us who knew her, love her and grieve are assured by faith of her peace at last and joy forever. A worship service in her memory and to the glory of God will be held on Thursday, December 1st at 4:00 at First Presbyterian Church...
Raleigh News & Observer, obituary, (edited for privacy)

I found out that someone from my past had died of a drug overdose the Friday before Thanksgiving.  This wasn't someone I considered a friend but it still seems to be bothering me more than I had expected.  She was a mother of two beautiful girls, a daughter to two loving parents, and a sister to a brother - all of whom are trying to understand how this could happen to them. 
Kristin's story is a sad story.  She became a mother and a drug addict at a very young age.  I met her through a friend of mine that would babysit her daughter.  I heard the stories from my friend about how Kristin would try to do good, to get a job and get off drugs, but she would always revert back to her bad habits.  I knew of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her boyfriend.  She had come into where I was working  one day with her mother and recognized me and asked if I would hire her.  She seemed healthy and like she was getting her life together, and after talking with my friend, I hired her.  She was a great person to work with, never complaining and always working hard, but it didn't last long.  After a few weeks, I noticed changes in her.  She was coming in late, or not at all.  There was a smell on her that was familiar to me - the smell of heroin.  I tried talking to her but eventually had to let her go and that was the last time I saw her.  That was about 10-15 years ago. 
I feel an overwhelming sadness for her daughters.  My father was a drug addict and was abusive, all things that her daughters have had to see.  It sets two paths before you - one following in your parent's footsteps, the other down a long journey with many forks.  Forks that turn you into a bitter, cold person and forks that make you compassionate and understanding.  I hope that her daughters take the longer journey and learn to be stronger women, women that can learn to understand their mother and her mistakes and learn from them so those mistakes don't happen again.

"I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me."
Robert Browning Hamilton

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Casting Demons - UPDATE

Can I tell you how happy I am right now?
It's been maybe 3 weeks since I wrote about the possibility of having my financial situation change due to my ex-husband's job not going so well (see Casting My Worries Aside).  Long story short, he was feeling like the entire company would possibly be shutting down for good by the end of the year.
I have been working on letting go of all those voices and demons that tell me that things will be difficult, that I can't handle things on my own, but didn't know how well I was really succeeding at that.  I was confused about my own feels since I didn't seem to be worried about it.  I didn't know if it was a true faith in God or if I was just in total denial.  Well, after several weeks, I began to realize that I was not in denial and I did have faith that God would see me through this - and boy did He.  Not only is my ex husband's company not closing down, but his hours are not getting cut (again) and they will have steady work for at least 6 months if not a year.  Great news in this economy, especially for a company in the construction industry.
But, I think I am mostly just really happy that I didn't allow myself to stress about it.  I told God that I had faith in His plan and would do my best to abide by His wishes.  Easy to say when things go how you would like, I know, but still I am happy.

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Angel Tree, Grumbling Givers

>> Monday, December 12, 2011

"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear."
Buddy the Elf (Elf movie 2003)


I am upset.  I may even be mad.
I don't know why I do this to myself, but I was reading a question/comment that someone had posted onto a website that I frequent. The question that was posed to the reader was about needy kids asking for expensive presents.  The writer had asked the reader how they felt about needy kids on Angel Trees asking for gifts like Xbox games and Ipods.  The writer felt that if the kids had an Xbox, then obviously their parents could afford to get them a gift themselves.  I read the first 10 comments before deciding I needed to fire one off of my own.

"I can't believe how many people are chastising the kids for asking for a "want" at Christmas. How would you feel, being poor, to only get socks or shoes for Christmas? How would you feel having to go back to school after Winter Break and listen to everyone talk about the cool things they got and you have nothing to talk about? Who are we to judge what these kids have? Maybe they got an xbox as a hand me down from a friend that upgraded, so what is so wrong with asking for a game? I try my hardest to teach my kids that Christmas is not about getting tons of toys and gadgets, but who are we kidding? That is what it has become, unfortunately. Me, I don't mind buying the xbox game for the kid that ask for it, even though I don't have one, because it is not for me to question how he got it. We should give out of a desire to bring joy to a child who otherwise wouldn't get much. People - have a heart, these are kids who the majority of the time probably have to be little adults at home to help out. And for those of you who said your churches leave "those" kinds of tags on the tree - shame on you."

Ok, I know - I didn't need to be so harsh, but I was mad.  I look at the Angel Tree at my local coffee shop everyday and feel like crying.  I cry because I know that these kids go without for most of the year.  I get upset because even if these kids have cool toys, gadgets, a big TV, many of these kids only have one part time parent.  I say "part time parent" not to say single parents don't do a good job of raising their kids (I'm a single mother of two), but because it is extremely difficult to be a parent the way most of us would want to be when you are just physically and mentally exhausted from a long day at work and just want to rest for 5 minutes before you have to get the kids fed, homework done and the kids bathed.  Before you know it, it's time for bed and you've barely spoken two words to your kids.  I don't grumble about being a single parent but I know that what I just wrote describes a typical day for me.  I am luckier than many, though.  I have a job that pays well and an ex-husband that loves his kids and understands he needs to support them - but even with that, it's hard to be a great parent because really all our kids normally want is our attention which can be so hard to give at the end of the day.
Maybe I was a bit harsh and let my anger get the best of me, but I can't help it when I think my kids could be one of those kids.  I just want us all to remember what it was like to be a kids at Christmas.  Though Christmas is about Jesus' birth, I have always felt that it was about His "gift" to us as well.  It''s a gift that we can never repay or duplicate. God does not command us to give when we don't want to or have the means (2Corinthians 9:7), so we should not question those who feel they have a need.  Whether you have good memories or bad ones, at the end of the day, we should want to bring joy to a kid who otherwise might not have a great Christmas.  Great list of bible scripture referencing giving.

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Casting My Worries Aside

>> Tuesday, November 22, 2011

25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 
Matthew 6:25-34 

 I feel okay right now.

I think I'm confident in God's plan, 
but I just don't really know.
I don't know if I really have faith in myself, in what I am feeling.
I got some news Friday that normally would've sent me into panic mode - 
My ex-husband is being cut down to part time pay again,
less than two months after being bumped back up to full time.
The company he works for is not doing well financially,
he's worried he might not have a job much longer.
All this means he will not be able to afford to provide the same support he has,
the support I need to pay for
childcare, 
mortgage,
clothes and food...
But I'm okay and I don't know why.
Is it really because I have complete faith in God's plan for me or am I just in denial?
I'm not use to putting my future, my security into someone else's hands, even God's.
I'm used to being in total control - 
This doesn't feel like me, like who I am.  
Have I really grown that much in Christ that I can surrender all my worries to Him?
I asked my preacher during our "coffee shop Sunday" session, How do we know when what we are feeling is based on our faith in God's plan or just the situation not having "sunk in"yet?
His answer, "Do you want to give God thanks for the situation you've been put in?" 
I don't know if I am there.
I don't know if I am giving thanks for my situation, but I am okay.
As is the season, I will give thanks for what I have and learn to carry that thankfulness throughout the year, when I feel worry, in need, and unhappy with what I have.
I will lay my prayers at His feet and give God my confidence.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7




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Blog Party

>> Friday, November 18, 2011


I think I left my brain on vacation as I just can't seem to get out of this funk that I have gotten into the last couple of days.  So, to motivate myself, I've joined a "blog party".  Guess it'll be nice to share a little more of me.  Feel free to join, the link is at the bottom of the post.
Here I go:

1} What's the nerdiest/geekiest/weirdest thing about you? 
I have a thing for geeks, I'll admit it.  In school I was popular and a social butterfly, but I always preferred my guys to be a bit nerdy.  So, I think because of that, I developed a love for SciFi movies and TV shows.  And, can I admit, I used to be a "gamer".  Now, people who don't game will not understand what that means, so I'll let you in on it.  I used to play role playing games where we would pretend we were elves or halflings and mages and such...boy, the arguments that would ensue sometimes when a character would get killed.  We put a lot of heart and soul into them.  Yup, a role of the dice would determine our fate sometimes.  I think I actually still have my character sheet.

2} If you could live in a fictional universe from any book, movie, or television show, what would it be? 
This one is so hard for me because I tend to like dramas and dark movies/books - who would want to live in those universes??  I am fascinated with the Bronte sisters.  I know their books tend to have a dark atmosphere to them, but there is something that seems peaceful to me about how they describe the "moors" in their books.  So, I guess that would be the English countryside for me.  I also thought that the movie "What Dreams May Come" had a beautiful heaven.  I know, a dark movie, but the effects were awesome.

3} Little or big, practical or frivolous, what is one of your favorite items in your house?
My china cabinet is my favorite thing.  It holds all of my art supplies...well, at least the supplies that I don't have spread all over the table, floor, countertops...

4} Do you like animated movies? If so, what is your favorite?
Beauty and the Beast.  I actually saw that in the theater my senior year of high school.  Did I just give my age away?

5} What is your favorite household chore?
Really?  I didn't know people had favorite chores.

6} What's your favorite thing to get at Starbucks (or your favorite coffee shop)?
Well, my favorite coffee shop in the whole world, Aversboro Cafe, makes a chaider that is awesome.  It is only available around this time of the year and it is an apple cider and chai mixture and it rocks!

7} What is your favorite pizza topping?
I like it simple - my favorite is a Margerita pizza which has tomato and basil and cheese.

8} Waffles or pancakes?
I could live off of pancakes.  They are the reason I could never do a low carb diet for long.

9} Do you like to play games? If so, what is your favorite?
I love playing games but no one likes to play with me...I'm too competitive.

10} Have you ever let anyone win a game?
Never!  Well, maybe just my kids

11} Have you ever dyed your hair?
On a regular basis since I was in high school.  You name the color, I've probably dyed it that color.  Currently a dark red.

12} Do you make your bed every morning?
Nope.

13} Picasso or Norman Rockwell?
If I have to pick one of those two, it'd be Picasso.  Rockwell is too depressing - all those perfect people with their perfect simple lives.

14} Do you like carpet, tile, or hardwood floors?
I have hardwood floors and I hate them.  I don't wear shoes or socks in the house and you can feel every piece of dirty on your feet.  I would love carpet if my asthma and allergies weren't so bad.  It's just not as nice to lay on the floor when it isn't soft like carpet.

15} What's your favorite condiment?
Hmm...that white sauce that you get at Japanese hibachi restaurants that no one seems to know what it's really called.  That and cucumber sauce you get with gyros.

16} Have you ever thrown up on someone (excluding when you were a child)?
I don't think so, but I remember my ex husband, before he was my ex or my husband, holding my hair back for me while I was puking from food poisoning.  That was the most miserable I've ever been.

17} What was the last thing that made you laugh?


Need I say more.  My little Noah is a nut!

18} Think fast...what's the first song that pops into your head?
Chop Suey by System of a Down.  I have no idea why.





 

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From the Inside Out

>> Thursday, November 17, 2011

A thousand times I failed, still your mercy remains ♥

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Autumn Vacation

>> Monday, November 14, 2011

I love it when I accidently take a pic and it turns out this cool

I finally managed to take some time off work, 3 workdays off, today being my last day off.  My job tends to be a bit stressful, as anyone in construction can tell you.  I feel like people rely on me a bit too much sometimes and it can get overwhelming pretty quickly.  So, major plans were made to try to relax and do whatever I wanted, all while not worrying about work.  Needless to say, it was a total failure.  Thursday and Friday, I spent the day answering my cell phone trying to take care of issues and help out co-workers as much as possible.  I understand most of what I do comes with experience, knowing who to call and how to get what I need done, so I don't fault anyone that called me.  Today though, was a different story.  For the most part, I was finally able to take a day off.  Only a few phone calls from the office, but nothing major or that I couldn't take care of easily.  I had intended to take the day to straighten my house and get rid of/organize junk in my bedroom.  Instead, I dropped off my baby boy at daycare (sorry Noah) and spent the day with my daughter.
We went to a local "walking" park looking for fairy homes, lunch and talking.  I love it when Isabel wants to have adult conversations, her being 7 and all it can be pretty funny.  
No fairies were found, but we had fun looking.  We had a very nice lunch outside by a small pond.  The weather was too nice not to eat outside.  74 degrees in November is always nice, especially after a cold week before.  Then we came home, and before picking up Noah, and raked up MORE leaves.  Some days I wonder why bother.  By the time we were done, it looked like we needed to rake again.  Here are some wonderful shots I thoght I'd share:

Isabel


No fairies here

Fairy must've been out for the day

Beautiful lunch outside

Isabel "helping" with the raking





So, the house is a mess, my bedroom is the same as before, but I am so thankful to have spent such a beautiful day with my wonderful daughter.  These moments are so rare and it's always nice to get one on one time with one of my babies.




















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Fear Not

>> Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why is it that I let fear hold me back so much.
I am so afraid of failure that I do not allow myself do pursue my passions
I love to bake.  It is my peaceful moment, my joy.  I would love to have a bakery but I am scared of not having a stready income while establishing a business, I'm scared that no one will come, I'm scare of being to overwhelmed with the pressure of running a busness and raising two kids.
I love to paint.  It is where I express my emotions onto a canvas.I would love to display in a gallery but I am scared that they will be critized, that they will be rejected as art.  I'm scared that I will be laughed at.
I never finished college.  I would drop a class the second I got anything less than a top score.  I was afraid to pick the wrong major and waste my time in a career I wouldn't like.  I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find a job in my field - so I quit.
Now - I want to date (kinda) but I am scared. 
Yes, me scared.
The same girl that pursued her husband
The same girl who, whenever she goes anywhere, will start a conversation with anyone, man or woman, as if we've been friends forever. 
I am very scared.
I'm scared that I will meet Mr. Wrong and not see it.
I am scare that my children won't like him, or the other way around.
I'm scared that he will turn out to be abusive or otherwise destroy the person I've become.
I'm scared he won't be what I want in a man - someone who wants to foster their Christianity without being "stuffy".
I'm scared he will begin to hate my flaws, my personality, my humor...
So I avoid it all.
I don't let myself get close to a man.
I won't go out on a date no matter how many times I'm asked.
I guess it's for the best for now,
I'm obviously not ready
But when I am ready, they better watch out!
Because when I am ready, I want to give every part of me that I have ever held back
I want to give purely and selflessly -
I am going to be fearless in love.

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Following My Sinful Heart

>> Monday, November 7, 2011

"There are two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace.  You have to choose the one that you will follow."
The Tree of Life


This blog isn't what I really intended it to be.  I never meant for it to be a Christian blog.
I mean, who am I to write about faith?
I am not educated in religion or Christianity - no university studies or degrees.
I have failed at retaining my faith in God, on more than one occasion.
I am a constant backslider (as we like to call ourselves here in the South).
I use bad words, have tattoos and a temper.
My friends would laugh or be in shocked to see how my heart has changed,
but for whatever reason this is where I have been lead,
Back to where I've been before - believing wholeheartedly that this is the truth.
Maybe I was never really here before.
When I read the Bible now or go to church, it all seems so very new.
New for a girl who has gone to church since before I was going to school,
Who always had this desire to know God.
I have a clearer understanding of it all.
How strange that after years of church and fellowship, a few years of rejecting it all, that it would all seem so foreign.
I'm scared of this path my blog has taken, in a way.
I'm scared that I will fail you as I have been failed by others. 
I worry that you will see my mistakes and judge me dishonest, not a true believer.
I hope to not disappoint you,
I hope that you will see a little of me in you,
Not perfect,
Sometimes wrong,
A sinner.
But I also hope that you are able to see that despite all that - you are
Loved
Worthy
Forgiven,
Just like me.



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Be Thanksful

>> Sunday, November 6, 2011

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown

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Thankfulness

>> Thursday, November 3, 2011

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” 
— Thornton Wilder




I always find it difficult to jot down the things I am thankful for. It always ends up feeling so obvious and phony. I mean, of course I am going to say that I am grateful for my kids, my home, health, job... but what does it really mean to me? Why am I grateful for these things? Am I really grateful for them? Let's be real - it's difficult raising 2 children on your own, taking care of a home can be financially burdensome on one income, and it's disheartening feeling stuck in a job that does not fulfill me.
I've always been one to be complacent with my circumstances because I always thought, "well, it could be worse. I could be homeless, unemployed or alone", but how honest am I being? Life is not always easy, in fact, I'd say it's rarely easy.  My circumstances are not what I expected.  I promised myself that I would never be a single mother, I thought for sure that I would make the right decision when I got married, but somethings are just out of our control.  And now, my life has gotten off of the path I thought I had it on, the one that I thought I was in control of. That is just fine with me because I am truly thankful for those things I said.

I am thankful for my children -
they make me smile when I am angry
they remind me that it's OK to be silly, irresponsible, and immature sometimes
their simple way of thinking helps me to slow down and enjoy the moment

My home -
It's my place to make memories
It's my security blanket
It's my place to relax and be completely me

My job -
allows me to provide for my family
allows me to take care of my necessities and have extra for that other pair of shoes
Provides enough income that I only have to work one job
Gives me flexible hours to allow me to take care of my family

Lately though, I am mostly thankful for:
My eyes being opened and my soul reawakened
For the resurgence I feel in my faith
For the hope this all has given me.



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My Plan vs. God's Plan

>> Monday, October 31, 2011

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)



It took me a long time to let go of my pain, my shame about my past. I could convince myself that nothing was my fault and I was the innocent person in all that happened in my life, but deep down inside I felt rejected by God. I was being punished for something that I did or will do, for how else could this be my life?

I think that is why it has been so hard to begin this blog and to make it public. Secretly, I felt that I would be judged by people as someone who must have done something wrong. I felt God had deemed me unworthy of a good life.  Why else would God punish me with the difficulties in life I have had? I know none of this is true, but I am a woman and we all know that we are masters at blaming ourselves for everything. We feel guilty over things that we have no control over and had nothing to do with.  But, I've had a change of mindset the last few years.  I'm still working on making it complete and true to myself, but there are a few things that I feel certain of now.


- I am not responsible for other people's actions or sins
- I am not a bad person, despite the mistakes I've made
- I am not being punished for every imagined wrong I've committed

I feel certain that had I not had the life I've had, I would not be a good person. I have my faults (don't we all) but I feel like I'm a good person - I care for people around me, I'm kind, loyal. Had I been given a "normal" life, I know that I would've been a wild child, undisciplined and selfish, or at least more so than now.  I would've been irresponsible and lost.  I know this because I have felt it in me - that wild streak, that feeling of wanting to run away and say to hell with it all!  But, when I think of poisoning my body with drugs or alcohol to escape, I think of my father and remember how it destroyed him.  When I think of running away and starting all over, I remember how hard it was for my mother with 3 kids to have to start all over.  When I get stressed and overwhelmed now, I think of how stressful life used to be and know that it could be worse.  Even when I get frustrated at how "small" my 1600sqft. home is, I remember living with 5 people in a two bedroom trailer, the kind that you would hitch to the back of a truck, not even half the size of my current home.
Life is not always easy, but God has a purpose in gifting you with the life He gives you.  And it truly is a gift, no matter how hard and no matter how difficult it is to see.  I am so grateful for the hard life that I have had.  It has made me the person I am and I think I like her.  I still have to strive to stay in grace during current trying moments but I know God has a purpose.  His plans are bigger than anything I can ever imagine.






 
 

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The Importance of Being and Seeing

>> Friday, October 28, 2011

Perfection is not about succeeding but trying and never quitting

Sign I saw on one of my many meandering drives through Raleigh

Obedience is important
Every moment has beauty
Beautiful sunset at the lake

Relinquishing control is freedom
Contentment and joy follow with surrender
Moonflower beginning to unfurrow - from my garden

Clean up can wait, enjoying the moment is more important

Kids playing karate and the house is a mess!

Some rules are meant to be broken (or somewhat adjusted)

Isabel playing in the water fountains at the art museum

Family matters

Isabel and Noah - sweet siblings


Friends Matter
Cheryl and Sandra - great friends
Church Matters





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Autumn's Golden Glory

>> Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Autumn is a second Spring where every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

I love this time of year.

The temperatures are much more mild,
The changing leaves paint the landscape,
The world prepares to sleep, for just a bit.

As much as I love this time of year, it is also a bit depressing...
No more vibrant colors from the Summer flowers,
We begin to bundle up for the season and lock ourselves indoors,
Darkness comes earlier and quiets the air.

Soon the tall trees in my yard will lay a blanket onto the grass.
The war between the rake, blower and leaves will begin (usually the leaves win).
Once the leaves have dropped from the trees, the sun will burst through my windows,
keeping me from feeling swallowed by the grey skies.
This is why I love my home -
Even in the dead of Winter,
The light still shines brightly inside my home.












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Shake it Out

You've got the love I need to see my through.
When food is gone, you are my daily need,
When friends are gone, I know my savior's love is real
You're love is real.
Florence + the Machine, You've Got the Love




Have I mentioned how much I love Florence + the Machine? I love her voice and her music always reaches me on a deeper level. You've Got The Love can bring me to tears, reminding me that however lost I feel, I am never alone. This is her newest song, Shake it Out. I could listen to this all day long. Another reminder of how we just need to "shake the devil" off our backs.

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Who is your neighbor?

>> Wednesday, October 19, 2011

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:25-29 (NIV)



As a Christian, I am often confused by what I see happen around the world. I don't always understand how my all powerful God can "allow" bad things to happen to people. It is somewhat of a question that has been posed at our morning "coffee shop worship", how can God allow so much bad in the world? My preacher, Gordon, had a great way of explaining it, but my brain can't seem to find those words - he's much more eloquent than me. But the basis of what I got out of what he was trying to explain is that the "bad" things that happen help us to grow in our grace. I spend way too much time reading the news on the internet and have been left in tears and disgusted at society, just completely unable to comprehend what some people do, so it's still been extremely difficult to accept or understand.

On Monday I was reading an article on cnn.com about a toddler in China and was reminded about the story of the good Samaritan. The little girl was hit by two cars and had over a dozen people walk right by her without stopping to help, all of which was caught on camera. The person that came to this little girls rescue wasn't a special person, a doctor, policeman, or anyone that mattered to society. It was someone that was clearly referred to as a "scavenger" in the article. If you're like me, a not so pretty image instantly come to mind - a dirty lady, in torn clothing collecting discarded trash. Someone who you either ignore as you walk by her or look at and scowl, thinking she's responsible for her current place in society. Yes, this was the lady that saw the child on the ground bleeding and in pain that stopped to help, like the Samaritan in the bible who saw the man in the valley beaten and robbed and stopped to help as others walked by. She has become a reluctant hero to the people of China - and hopefully an example to follow.
This tragedy seems to have started a dialog within China about the deterioration of morality in their society, being a major trending conversation on their version of Twitter. China, the Communist nation, is having a morality check and this is wonderful. This discussion needs to spread as this lack of morality is not isolated to China. How often do we sit back and do nothing because it isn't affecting us directly? We might not pass by a dying child, but how often have you sat with your lips closed as a friend abused a loved one or themselves with drugs? How many people have we watched self destruct because we didn't want to be meddlesome? Not only am I reminded of the story of the good Samaritan, but I go back to my coffee shop Sunday. You know the one at the beginning of this post, the one that had me doubting God's plan and it suddenly makes sense. How? Because the people of China are talking and hopefully looking into their hearts, to grow as better people. And, maybe this will spread here and people will look into the mirror and take a look at their souls and see the similarity between themselves and all the people that passed the little girl by.
This is it.
This is God is using bad things for a greater good. Too often we get mad when things like this happen. We get mad at God for allowing it to happen. We blame it on Satan. We don't see how we are the same as the passerbys.
So, I guess there are two lessons here:
- Be the good Samaritan. make a difference in someone's life.
- God knows why things happen and He has a purpose. Instead of questioning His intentions, we need to look at how these kinds of situations can work out positive in our lives, helping us to grow into better people.

Who is your neighbor?

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Born Again Nut

>> Saturday, October 1, 2011

"...I used to pray that God would give me something--strength, wisdom, patience, the solution to a problem. I was forever telling God what was wrong with my life and what God needed to do to fix it. Today, I talk things over with God to decide what I can do, not what God should do. This is the key to spiritual power, to finding God in so many wonderful places both ordinary and extraordinary." ~Father Leo Booth

I am a proud Christian.
Did I actually just write that? Me?? The cynical, sarcastic girl who is scared of people who loudly profess their Christianity? Yup, I wrote it - proudly. Lisa last year would've never said those words. She never would want to associate herself with those narrow minded, conservative, right wing, Fox News watching Republicans who want to take away all our rights and our money and...should I go on?


Ask me what I think a good Christian is and I will begin by telling you what I think a good Christian is not. I don't think a good Christian is:
- judgemental
- apart from society
- only ultra conservative
- one to constantly quote scripture, bragging about their bible knowledge as if they are somehow better than most
- or perfect

You do not know a good Christian when you first set your eyes on them as their dress is not what identifies them as a good Christian. You see them when you see how they interact with society. They present themselves, not as better than you, but as humble, kind, loving and understanding that no one is perfect. Christ is reflected in their way of life not in the scripture they quote. You see Christ in them when you see how they attempt to obey what the bible instructs. Not always succeeding but knowing that their attempts are pleasing to God and knowing that God understands that they are not perfect but loves them anyway. You see them transforming, naturally growing into a reflection of what is asked of us in the bible. So, this is me. I am happily becoming a strong Christian. I do not feel that I am having to set aside my own desires, because my desires are becoming what God wants them to be. I don't feel like I have to give up the people I've had in my life during my "rebellious" years as those are probably the people that need to see my growth most. I don't attempt to appear holier than most, completely losing my personality. I am still me and that's makes me happy.

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Relenting

>> Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.
~Michel de Montaigne



After a year of attempts to return and many recent invites, I'm finally doing it - I'm going to a church. When I was a kid, church was extremely important to me. I would say it was my place to escape, but I don't think that's what it was for me. I has always been a natural desire in me to be close to God. If it is possible to lose my salvation, mine was definitely lost. Actually, it wasn't lost, it was thrown away, something unwanted.

You see, my most vivid memories of strong Christians were definitely the worst examples. The father who raised me seemed like a strong Christian in most of his actions but he was an alcoholic drug addict, my "real" father was very respected in our church and he was even worse than my first father. In so many years, I have been surrounded by people who wore the Christian mask well in public, but were all reflections of the worst parts of society. So, for several years, I rejected what my heart knew. I fought God tooth and nail - arguing with him on a regular basis. Telling him that I didn't believe in Him, didn't think he was a savior for me. It took several years for me to realize that I was mad at the wrong person. I blamed God for the people who were claiming to be His followers. It was a revelation that just suddenly came to me in my usual place of speaking to God - my car. Even so, after asking God to forgive me, begging Him to take me back, I was still scared of calling myself a Christian, scared of going back to church. I didn't want to associate myself with "those" people - the ones in mask. I didn't think I needed fellowship, I would just be the Christian I thought God wanted me to be. More time goes by and I finally decide to go to church. I wanted to make sure the church wasn't full of close minded people, hypocrites and sycophants, so I chose the wrong church - definitely not a true Christian church. After my husband left and a year of spending most of my free time at my local coffee shop (beats a bar), I finally decided to visit a local church that I was invited to. It was my 4th invite to a church, so I figured that God was trying to tell me that I needed to go. Hesitant to go to a denominational church, as those must be full of the mask wearers, I chose to go to Sovereign King Church. I had met Gordon in the coffee shop and he seemed very kind, relaxed and non-traditional. He runs everyday and still listens to heavy metal, so his church must be ultra cool and radical. So, after my first visit, I was left confused. Not only was this sermon what I would consider conservative or traditional, pretty much feeling like a bible class and not like Joel Osteen, but it was not non-denominational. I felt tricked - not that Gordon every said it was non-denominational. It was Presbyterian - not only Presbyterian, but PCA, which is more conservative than the PCUSA. So, what can I really say other than after going for six months or so, I love it. It's a church that from day one I felt welcomed and loved. I don't know if I would call myself a Presbyterian yet, but for now I am happily sucked in.

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Nightmares

>> Monday, April 18, 2011

"All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why."
~James Thurber




I'm a bit overwhelmed by my feelings today, just not quite able to understand how I feel today really. I took a trip yesterday and felt anxiety overtake me as I traveled down roads I haven't seen in over 20 years. I've blocked out so much of those years and had hoped it would come back to me, but it did not. Not that I really wanted it to, but sometimes I wonder what it is I've blocked out and how much it is damaging who I am and who I want to be. I was amazed at how familiar it all still seemed and I think that is what took me by surprise, knowing which way to turn and the names of the roads before I approached them.

As I got closer to my endpoint, I felt a knot form in the back of my throat. I had driven by the site a few weeks before and knew that there was nothing but a road there, yet still, as I turned onto that road, I had a fear come over me, as if I was going to be transported back in time - back to my nightmares. I drove down the road until it came to the end. Slowly, I walked out of my car and just looked around like I was waiting for someone to come through the tall weeds that had overgrown in the area. As I looked around, I noticed images from nightmares. I thought they would be familiar, but they did not take me back to my childhood, only to my dreams. Dreams of running and trying to get away from someone that kept dragging me back to that place. But, I did not feel fear once I got there. I did not feel like crying or running or hiding. I did not feel like a child. I just felt numb... and that is what is bothering me. Shouldn't I feel something?

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