Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Are you watching this?

I made the phone call to my mom telling her I wasn't to use my arm awhile. Among the many things she said is that I may be doing all this just so "someone" could see me go through this.

So I ask you.... Are you watching?

For those that are only watching me on this blog, let me tell you what you're missing sight-wise today.

Today and yesterday I practiced my left-handed penmanship. "A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." So far my left hands writing ability is about the same range as a 7yr old.
I've scheduled my fire inspection for the foster care program, and somehow even successfully passed a class requiring me to perform the heimlich maneuver.

I've spent hours literally staring at my hand trying to will it to be better or at least different.

I played typer shark a typing game and discovered that my left hand types 34wpm with 97% accuracy. Yes, I'm boasting, feel free to boast about your own times in comments if you want. :)

I've researched as much as I can and found that stress can cause the incessant twitching to get worse so that may be why my general twitchiness has increased since I finally started thinking the was far beyond just being a little quirky. The bible promises perfect peace if my mind is stayed on God. My hand wasn't perfect, but I didn't lose my peace until I gave the problem more attention.

So, if you're watching this, this is me, trying to put my mind back on God.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sometimes He calms the storm

All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong
Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn't mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we're shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ
No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place

-penned by Tony Woods and Kevin Stokes

What wouldn't I give?

We had a guest speaker last night at church.

Towards the end of the service he asked anyone that had a problem and knew God was going to fix it, to raise their hand. I could have raised my hand, but I didn't.

Some of the only things I know about God is that I don't understand Him, His decisions sometimes hurt, and my opinion on the matters doesn't mean didly-squat. For the most part, I'm ok with all that. I trust implicitly that He's working all - emphasis on all- things for my good. No one likes growing pains, but they are necessary.

I'm hesitant to blame the devil for certain problems, because I know God tests us, tries us, and refines us. I'm hesitant to inform God that I want Him to fix such-n-such, or that I know He will fix such-n-such, because there's always the possibility that He's just watching me to see how I'm going to react if He doesn't fix it the way I expected.

I might have failed or passed the test in one swift move yesterday.

My hand doesn't work right. The doctor said don't use it for ten days, if it's carpel tunnel then the hopefully swelling will have gone down and life will return to normal. I play the piano for my church, my church family. I called my pastor and told him I was out of commission. A call that I will never make again. The only other person that can play has become the song leader and so we just sang acapella. I have never felt more selfish and derelict in my life. I left the church that morning informing the pastor that I'd be back to playing that night. (note to my family that reads this blog...don't tell mom about me playing) :)

The main thing I've learned through all this is that music is my easy "in" with God. If I need peace, comfort, calm, patience, or hope - those all come when I sit down to play. Some of my best prayers, most loving prayers for people that I might generally have a hard time loving, comes through my playing.

I'm typing this with one hand, cleaning, working, reading, everything happens with one hand. And I don't even care, I can take these limitations in stride. But just the thoughts of my not playing has me...I can't even begin to describe the swell of emotions.

I asked last week in post "What would you give?" it's almost as if God turned right back around asking me what I wouldn't give.

James says "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience". I haven't made it even close to joyfulness. I haven't gotten past sadness yet.


For all my grief and fear I truly am grateful that He's still working on me.

Sunday morning in the middle of some of my strongest pain tears of grief and fear that I simply could not hold back rolling down my face. And let me tell you that's hard to explain to others during Sunday school lessons on easy topics like Jonah. Both my pastor and Sunday school teacher throughout the morning kept mentioning Gods hand and it was after about the third such mention that I felt a huge hand that reached from my shoulders almost to the top of my head. I quite literally leaned my head back against the support.

It's in me to demand health, healing, and my way. But it was in those simple moments with God's hand that I knew all I would truly plead for in this life is God. Everything else is a blessing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What would you give?

To save one soul from hell

Would you forsake your pride?
Would you forsake you parents?
Would you forsake your job?
Would you open your house to the homeless?
Would you give all your money, all your goods, to an organization?
Would you give up your free time?
Would you give up your favorite sport?
Would you give up one paycheck?
Would you a stranger one meal every day for a year?
Would you give up a friend?
Would you give up a child?
Would you give up your physical life?
Would you spend 2 hours a day praying for that person?
Would you allow that person to harm you?
Would you give up your cell phone?
Would you give up tv?
Would you give up your car?
Would you give up....anything that actually cost you something?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Come on,


Money Money Money Money Money

I love money.

Not necessarily the abundance of it, but fiddling with it.
I love bouncing around money, finding the safest place for it to land whether that be with the highest amount of interest, or the lowest amount of interest.
My debt charges me 2.99% interest for the life of the loan, and my bank pays me 4.99% interest for the pleasure of holding my checking account. I like that equation. With a few crazy maneuvers my phone bill actually shrank by 15 dollars when I added caller id, call waiting and call waiting id. It's amazing.

If you're spending too much, I can find ways to cut your bills, and increase or decrease your interest rate. Some things take time, but considering it's your money people are messing with (hard earned money I might add) it is more than well worth it. Financial stewardship might make some cringe, but for me you might as well be discussing Christmas eve. It's a joy, a thrill.

I cannot say this to brag because the fact of the matter is that I learned these things because of some costly stupid mistakes. I made a forty dollar mistake that cost me $9,000. No kidding. Among other mistakes that have left me saddled with debt, at this point I wouldn't trade a penny of it. I've learned so much, that helps me so often, I wouldn't trade what I've learned from debt for freedom from debt.

What that teaches me, what I know now better than ever before, is that every pain, every frustration I've ever been through has been for a reason. We all say it, and we all may think we believe it, but I wonder how many of us can actually point out the plus side to every struggle? Who says to their family "that car wreck was the biggest blessing!" or "I'm so glad I got fired!". It's just rare.

I know as a parent you have to make some amazingly hard choices. But rarely do those choices involve physical harm or peril to your child. Or getting your child fired from a job. At least I hope not. I can't imagine Gods life. Gods mindset as He does whatever it takes to get you to follow His will - a place you've supposedly prayed He would keep you. I can't imagine watching the pain and confusion on your childs face as they struggle with the lessons they have no idea are actually all that is keeping them on the right path.

I can't imagine how hard it is to love a child that much.

Today, I do something unusual and I leave you with a story. In this story one of the pots is cracked. In our wisdom we would never crack a pot in order to accomplish a task. In our wisdom we would do everything in our power to fix the crack so the pot would accomplish a task. But true healing comes when we use the crack to it's fullest potential, to accomplish something no "whole" pot could never accomplish. The bible states God won't put more on us than we can bear. Some pots, if you tried to crack them, would shatter. God knows which pots to crack. If I had to be cracked for the glory of God, then I can only thank God for loving me enough to bring the right people and circumstances in my life that would inflict those painful blows.

A water bearer in India had two large pots
each hung on each end of a pole which he carried
across his neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other
pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion
of water at the end of the long walk from the stream
to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily,
with the bearer delivering only one and a
half pots full of water in his master's house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its
accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection,
and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half
of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a
bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer
one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years,
to deliver only half my load because this crack
in my side causes water to leak out all the way
back to your master's house. Because of my flaws,
you have to do all of this work, and you don't get
full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot,
and in his compassion he said,
"As we return to the master's house, I want you to
notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked
pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild
flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad
because it had leaked out half its load, and so again
it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that
there were flowers only on your side of your path,
but not on the other pot's side? That's because I
have always known about your flaw,
and I took advantage of it.
I planted flower seeds on your side of the path,
and every day while we walk back from the stream,
you've watered them. For two years I have been
able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate
my master's table. Without you being just the way you are,
he would not have this beauty to grace his house.

"Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws.
We're all cracked pots.
But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our
lives together so very interesting and rewarding.
You've just got to take each person for what they are,
and look for the good in them.
There is a lot of good out there.
There is a lot of good in us!
Blessed are the flexible,
for they shall not be bent out of shape.

*****For a quick and serious side note, the government might actually be holding onto money that failed to make it to you. You'll think it goes to everyone else BUT you, but you may very well be surprised. To do a search for your name in Texas go to
Window On State Government For those that don't live in Texas you can also go to www.missingmoney.com and search your state. For those Texans that all this has confused... just call 1-800-654-3463 and they'll help you out. Or if you know my number call me. The idea of unclaimed money just floating around out there has been like Christmas morning every day since I've discovered it. I'll be more than happy to look up your relatives, friends, old bosses, any random name you can give me. ;) If I know your last name though, chances are I've already checked. This is too much fun!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

4 minutes of hope

Foster care training is close to being over.

I've sat in a chair and endured hour after hour of what I can only describe as an mental and emotional beating.

Story after story after story of what happened to this kid, that kid, the kid that had kids. 12 yr olds giving birth. Stories of the vics vapor rub cps workers kept in their car that would help them not gag when they went in to a house to investigate an allegation or an outcry and then the description of the homes and why vics was a staple for cps workers.

A hundred horrible scenarios for you to try to imagine, or maybe come up with "what do you do". Your child just said they hate you and are going to hurt you, what do you do? You just overheard your child say they were going to have sex, what do you do?

Don't touch the child, but remember your child needs to be hugged and loved, but not if they don't want to be, but even if they don't want to be you need to make sure they know they are loved and could be hugged. All their baggage is your baggage, but you can't have any baggage because you need to be able to cope with whatever this child needs you to cope with. You must abide by these rules and not let them stay at someone elses house, unless not allowing them to stay at someones house makes them feel abnormal or different, then you should let them.

It's a crazy world where every statement is absolutely true and you just have to find the teeny tiny balance to all of them that makes what you're doing 'right'.

I've attended classes, installed smoke detectors, am currently looking at my fire extinguisher wondering where to stick it (lest they deem it inaccessible), I've got a first aid kid and a lock box, my cleaning supplies have been moved, I've made appointments to get my fingerprints electronically made, provided references and arranged TB testing. I've done these things and so much more (don't even get me started on daycare requirements and education).

I've done all this, and in return I've received approximately 4 minute of hope.

In a short 4 minutes our instructor last night gave me enough hope to keep going. She talked about the different situations in the bible where children were not raised by their natural parents. Best examples they had, Moses and Esther, with a couple of references to Joseph. She said we have the power to make a difference. She said God had a plan for these kids lives. That God had a future planned for these kids lives. She said we don't know who the person we're raising will become. Only she said that last one in a good way, rather than the scary way we've heard it all month long.

I haven't been blogging as much because there's so much going on and so much information in my head that it's hard for me to think of a topic much less think ON the topic. I'm hoping in a couple of weeks that things will go back to normal. So please be patient, keep checking the blog, and I'll blog more regularly as I am able.

Encourage someone. If just a 4 minute quickie of hope can get me through 1800 + minutes of discouragement, just imagine what power you have during a lunch break or your 20 minute hospital visit. You have power. Go to it.

The one person I didn't ask...

I've lived in this house for nearly 5 years now, and for those 5 years, my next door neighbor has continuously done small, kind things. From taking my trash to the curb to telling me someone used my water hose while I was at work.
One thing I discovered recently was that he not only takes my trash to the curb sometimes, but he takes out my discarded food items from the trash. He's not all there mentally, and he's easily confused if things aren't as they should be. He has no telephone and needs to call a cab every day to take him to work. So I let him in to use the phone.
It started slowly, he was just using the phone, and then I was giving him something to drink because apparently his water is turned off. Now he makes extra trips over just to visit with me.
I happened to mention this to my dad, and I was immediately advised to stop. It wasn't safe, and it wasn't "appropriate" for me to have a man in my home.
I stopped.
I could have cried when he would come by and ring the doorbell and I ignored it. When I'd see him outside the next day he'd tell me he came by but that I'd been sleeping. Everything about locking this man out felt deep down, gut-wrenching painfully wrong.
I know that everything I'd like to do, might not be appropriate for me to do. I understand this. That's why I wanted a guideline to follow, a simple principal that I can place my actions up to and go "there, this is right/wrong". I began asking WWJDAASF (What would Jesus Do As A Single Female) OR WWJAASF (What Would Jesus Advise A Single Female). I came up with nothing. The few people I asked told me to follow the Holy Spirits leading. But honestly, if the Holy Spirit had been leading me to not let the man in my home, I wouldn't have done it in the first place.
So, I was stuck.
Wednesday night, my answer came from the best person to ask, that I had failed to ask; my pastor.
Knowing nothing of my situation the pastor began to teach.
Acts 9: 1 - 5
1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Then he went on to read Matthew 25:31-46
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The pastors point (referring back to Saul) is that the rude/bad things we've done to others, we've done to God as well. And immediately I knew exactly what Jesus would advise a single female.

At some point, whether others think it's appropriate or safe, I have to remember that when I'm doing something for the least I've done it unto God. Whether that be giving out the glass of water to my neighbor or leaving my neighbor outside. There are changes I can make in what I'm doing, primarily telling my neighbor he can't come visiting after dark. But other than that, my decision is made.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

So much to do so little time

From being at work 9 hrs a day to training classes to driving back and forth for those training classes, to picking up anything extra necessary at my 2nd job life is busy.

My title makes sense now right?

But that's not what I'm talking about.

One of the reasons I'm looking forward to foster care is that my busyness will finally be geared towards God. Not money, not stuff, not friendships, not family, but God. There is so much God needs done in this world, and so little time to do it. Especially if you're hoping to pick up the slack for all those that aren't doing anything.

I was talking to a lady the other day that informed me she was fed up and was going to leave her husband. In my responses to her I asked her to choose. Choose who she was going to serve, whether it was going to be God or herself. Unfortunately though, my admonitions came back to bite me. As I thought about what I was saying, I knew my words weren't just about staying with her husband, but about every aspect of my life.

When I wake up I am allowed to choose. Is today about me or God? I can easily tell everyone that God comes first, but when I'm hitting the snooze alarm desiring 9 more minutes of sleep rather than getting up and spending the time necessary in prayer and reading the bible then who I'm placing first is very clear.

It's a daily choice, actually an minute by minute choice it seems, to put God first in everything and in every way. I can't put off my study of His word till tomorrow. I don't have time for procrastination, there's just too much to do and far too little time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A testimony

Sunday night, after church was over and everyone had gone I sat quietly in the dark of the church just telling God over and over that I wanted to be able to speak in tongues. Finally I went home, and I spent Monday fasting. I don’t know that I’ve ever fasted because I wanted something so specific from God but I did that day. I spent all day long, again, just telling God over and over what I wanted.

When Tuesday arrived I wasn’t much better off. But late that night as I made the hour and a half drive home from a training class I'm taking I started thinking more about something that had occurred to me Monday. I have a very deep respect for spiritual things and I cannot imagine opening my mouth and spouting gobbledegook and hoping that it’s the Holy Ghost. I just knew I couldn’t. God might understand why I was doing what I was doing, but there was no way I’d allow myself to do that, no matter how much I wanted to be able to speak in tongues.

I didn’t know what to do about that, or how to fix that kind of an issue. Almost anyone can tell you the Holy Spirit won’t make you speak in tongues. The miracle of it all is that you’re speaking in tongues, not that you’re speaking. So you actually have to, well, speak.

Amidst the confusion of my thoughts God spoke and I obeyed. I turned down the radio and sang. Driving down the road I was singing in a language that was absolutely foreign to me. It was as simple as singing as I normally would, but drastically different in its effect on me.

It isn’t what I wanted. I wanted to be able to pray for others, and I got a song of worship. My gift seems useless to anyone that isn’t ME, and I was hoping for a gift that primarily helped others besides me. God knows what I “need” though, and provided His gift based on that. I've been seeking the gift of tongues for two years and it could be that if I had ever tried to sing I might have had this gift long long ago. I’ll never know.

I don’t know what all stops us from being able to speak in tongues (or sing in them), but it is well worth trying. For me that didn’t mean going to the altar every time someone said to come be prayed over for the Holy Spirit. But a constant desire to have the Holy Spirit and the ability to pray in a gift far superior to my own words.

I write this today to document a change in my life, but also simply to share it with you. I have no authority or words of wisdom to provide for you if you're seeking something yourself. Stepping into something deeper with God is such a personal struggle that everything I could tell you might not apply at all to your situation and your struggle. So I'll only tell you the one thing that applies no matter who you are, and what you're dealing with:

God is so good.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

No really, what would Jesus do?

It's become so well known, so advertised, it's on t-shirts, bumper stickers, jewelery, toys, books and music. It's become a symbol.

And I wonder if that's why Christians hide from it now.

Not all Christians, but some. It's as though to prove you are spiritually deep you can't connect yourself with the huge broadcast message that is so widely known to the secular world.

I'm not that deep.

I need to know, every day, in so many situations, what would Jesus do? Would Jesus screen His calls? Would Jesus not answer the door if He weren't feeling well? Would Jesus insist on His own way in non-spiritual issues?

I need to be asked, and reminded that my immediate actions aren't necessarily the very same response that God would have in situations. If Christ were on earth would He use words like heck, hell, god, darn, gee, or gosh? Would He care if others used those words? Or would He only care if Christians used those words? Or would He just not care at all? I know what my reaction is to those words, but what would His be?

There isn't a lazy thought in God, so I know He would keep His house cleaner than I do. His yard would be mowed more often probably, and some of the chores I've put off for another week, He would have done them as they came to Him to accomplish.

He'd be more concerned with the real people dying, lost, around me than the fake lives lived out on tv, whether or not my favorite get kicked off the island, or which dog wins the ugliest dog contest.

His very lifestyle would attract attention that would allow Him to minister to people. He wouldn't get by from paycheck to paycheck because He spent so much money eating out. He'd find himself spending more money because so many people would be visiting Him and He'd feed them.

I can spend my paycheck now. I can pay bills that will sustain me for another month, or I can blow it on eating out, seeing movies and playing games and the very next day I'll have nothing to show for it.
I'm spending my life right now. One day the very last drop of life will be spent and dear God, I ache to have something to show you that moth and rust can't corrupt. Something that will outlast this earth and make it to You so You can see what I did the with the life and talents You have given me. Help me live my life, as You would live my life.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I am blessed

I'm working on a post about love. I'm not even close to having the thoughts in my heart ready for posting, but I'm so preoccupied with what I really want to be saying that it's hard for me to post on anything else. So maybe this whole week is just going to be about love. We'll just have to see how it goes.

I was thinking today about how blessed I am. A little over 10 years ago I met an amazing couple from New York. I didn't meet them in person, but I met them online. I was 15 yrs old then and I'm 25 yrs old now and I am still in regular contact with these friends.

6 yrs ago through a website of mine a young man from Houston (now moved to Tulsa) came across my website. He e-mailed me and we're still in touch and have visited each other on several occasions. He memorizes scripture for Bible Quiz as a participant and a coach. His most recent challenge so far has been memorizing the book of Romans and two other books which he had to recite for a judge in 45 minutes I believe.

Right now, thanks to my blog I've met someone else that is slowly becoming a friend. I'm looking forward to meet him and his wife *hopefully* sometime soon.

I've made friends with convienience store clerks, mentally challenged neighbors, my brothers co-workers, and a scattering of people all over that I could have just dismissed as irrelavant to my life. One of the small ties I especially cherish is a friendship with my sister-in-laws family.

If the world is suppose to know I'm a Christian by my love, my list proves I haven't even made a dent. I come in contact with so many people each and every day. It's so easy to dismiss people. So very easy. God didn't choose me for His Kingdom because I'm a better person than those around me. I'm not more important, I'm just willing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Poll

I just wanted to draw your attention to a new poll. It's a tough question, and you probably want to pick "I don't know" but I'm not giving you that option. What would you do?