Thursday, March 31, 2005


Last night I pulled up to the house and when I got out of the car I was greeted to an olfactory treat! Nelson had the grill fired up and hamburger patties prepared. He stopped and bought potato salad and onion rings. We shared our meal with a friend from T-Net. And the almost best part of the meal is that the leftovers packed up to make a wonderful lunch for me today. Mmmmmmmmmm!

When I got home today Nelson wasn’t here, which was surprising since I knew he had the day off. I called him on his cell and he said he was on his way home. He had a headache all day and decided he didn’t want to cook tonight and obviously he had Arby’s on his mind…and Taco Bell, and Burger King…giggles.

Tomorrow at work we’re having a cookout inside. The plant supplies the hotdogs and burgers and grills them---makes the factory smell so good! We’re supposed to bring everything else. I’m going to make a dessert. When I was a kid we called them ting-a-lings. I’ve also heard them called haystacks. I melt butterscotch chips and stir in chow mein noodles. I drop them into cookie size piles on a cookie sheet and let them set up. Well, not all of them set up. (insert big smile and finger licking)

I got paid today. Wow. I feel so blessed. Last year I only made $105. Today my check had 72 hrs of regular pay and 8hrs of overtime. I put in for automatic deposit, but that hasn’t come through yet so I got to hold the real check. That was a really nice feeling. It was good to bring it home and have Nelson be impressed, too.

Well, the ting-a-lings are setting up. Such a yummy snack.

Something interesting happened this morning. The alarm woke me up. Now, that probably sounds normal to most everyone else, but not for me. I almost always wake up before the alarm by at least 20 minutes to a half hour. When the alarm went off this morning, I kept thinking it must be a dream. I did not want to get out of bed.

Now this worries me. Sunday we change our clocks. It’s time to “spring forward.” Most people will be excited about the extra hour to sleep. My body never seems to adjust. It’s so much harder for me to get up in the mornings—sort of like today. Then when we switch back in the fall I’m back to being my happy early rising self. I guess I’m just a little weird.

(giggles inserted…because she’s always laughing at herself) I felt good today. Last night Nelson and I went to Walmart. I bought new sports bras and underwear. I like sports bras (especially for work) because the straps don’t fall down. These are so comfortable. It felt like such a frivolous splurge but I haven’t had new since Feb 2002. I think I was due. I also pulled out a new pair of socks. I was so spiffy in my new unders and my new uniform. I think my whole body was smiling.

Well, right now my body is yawning so I think I toddle it off to bed. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wide Eyed

Do you know how much time it saves in the morning when you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear?

For me it’s about 15 minutes, or so it seems. Yesterday my uniforms came in. So this morning I’m all spiffed out in my blue dickie style pants and my gray shirt with the company name over the left front pocket and my name over the right front pocket. I can’t find my belt, but fortunately, my pants are not going to fall off. (Like that would ever be the problem!)

I was told Monday night that I was going to be packaging parts by myself on Tuesday. These parts are referred to as “heavy duty.” I don’t know about the duty part, but I can definitely attest to the heavy! I was pacing myself appropriately to get the job done when up saunters one of my co-workers: a big, strong manly man. His line kept breaking down so the plant manager told him to come over and help me. It was great. He brought his strong arms and music. A welcomed combination for sure!

After lunch I headed back out, thinking I would be working alone, when lo and behold I not only had manly man, but another guy as well. We knocked out the balance of the order in a half hour at which point they disappeared into the bowels of the factory and I went back to work in another area.

Monday I had been putting the tiniest little O ring on a one inch piston. A challenge to say the least! I finished that job and then for the last half hour of the day I learned a new task. It was such a nice afternoon they opened the bay doors at the back of the building. We could feel a bit of the fresh air and see the sunshine whenever we walked by. It was nice. It was still nice when we left at 5:30. I sat out on the porch and read the paper until dinner. And oh was dinner good!

I got home to find Nelson already home and busy about the house. He had done dishes, straightened, and was fixing supper. Monday night he did some grocery shopping on his way home from work (I could make money cloning this guy!). He had stopped at Aldi’s and was surprised to find coconut shrimp in the freezer section. Knowing that this is my most favorite food, he bought two boxes. So for dinner he fried up one box, baked potatoes, prepared a tossed salad (opened the bag), and topped it off with a piece of Texas toast. I was in heaven. I may never go back to Red Lobster again…well, maybe!

After my luscious dinner I watched some TV, played some online scrabble, read journals/blogs and as soon as American Idol was over I toddled off to bed. I was sound asleep before 9:05!!! Maybe that’s why I feel so refreshed this morning. I’ll have to keep that in mind!

It’s supposed to get to 70 degrees here today! Ah spring. Enjoy your day! I’m out the door! (I wrote this this morning, but blogger wouldn't let me here it is quite a bit later...)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Resurrection Bubbles

Easter 2002 was a very special day for me. I had just spent 56 days in jail. I had served as a trustee, working in the kitchen during my incarceration, so my 60 day sentence had been reduced. There was some uncertainty as to when I would in fact be released. Two different CO’s (correction officers) had two different opinions.

It began to look like I was going to have to wait to be released on Monday. I was okay with that. One more day wasn’t going to make that big of a difference. I was working in the kitchen, preparing for lunch, when the CO came into the kitchen and asked my supervisor what I was still doing there.

The staff had finally come to an agreement that I should be released on Sunday. Easter Sunday. I started to cry tears of relief. Then I began to cry tears of frustration. It was after 10:00am when the finally told me. Everyone I knew would be in church. I was processed out but couldn’t leave. So I called home and left the message for my husband to come get me when he got home, and I went back to the kitchen to work the lunch.

No one could believe that I would willingly go back to work. Their bafflement baffled me. I couldn’t do anything less. There, in the most potentially depressing and defeating time of my life, I had found so many blessings. Working lunch was one way to say thanks. In fact, I was so grateful that for several weeks following my release, I was granted permission to return to the jail and volunteer my time in the kitchen.

I thought about that time more this week than I thought I would. The last few days at work when I was testing those regulators I was looking for bubbles as an indicator that there was leakage. I “played” with bubbles when I was in jail, too.

There were two of us women who were trustees most of the time I was in jail. We worked well together. It got to the place where we finished each other’s thoughts and anticipated the other’s needs. Lisa had been in jail several times, was familiar with the system and the CO’s. She watched out for me, was a friend to me. Until I started playing with bubbles.

When we cleaned up after a meal, I scraped and washed while she rinsed and dried. Sometimes there were so many things to wash that I would have to refill the sink several times. When I would put more detergent in the water and try to get the bottle to squirt bubbles. Lisa hated bubbles…or at least she said she did. I got pretty adept at making a large stream of bubbles and sometimes I could even aim them at Lisa. When I did she would threaten me with the sprayer. And we would giggle and laugh right there in the jail kitchen. People told us we were having too much fun.

That’s just how I am, though. I look for the positive. I dig out the good. I find a reason to smile, to laugh. And I will find it! Sometimes it’s a challenge, but if it can be found I will find it. I take joy in bringing smiles to others. I laugh at myself—a lot. Somewhere at the beginning of my faith journey someone gave me James 1:2 as a verse to live by. So I look for ways to count it all joy. That’s probably why those sad days like I wrote about a couple weeks ago hit me so hard. Like a tsunami, they hit out of nowhere and hit hard.

So this Easter I celebrate resurrection. I celebrate freedom. I celebrate hope, bubbles, and the power of God that takes brokenness and restores it to usefulness. I celebrate life!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter Week

FRIDAY NIGHT:Well, I did it. I completed my first week at work. I worked overtime every day except today. I was told that they NEVER work overtime on Fridays. They may call for workers on Saturday and Sunday, but not extra on Friday. It was okay by me today. When 3:30 came around, I was ready to head for the door! And not just because I was tired….Ann, Travis, and Penelope were at our house for a visit!!!

It has been such a delightful evening. I found energy that I didn’t know I’d have. I’m sure I’m a typical grammy: everything she does is just adorable. I’ve been taking picture after picture. She figured out how to ride the little rocking horse. She was able to make the sit and spin spin!!!! My living room looks like a cyclone hit it and I don’t even care!!!

We’re going to an Easter egg hunt and an auction at the fairgrounds tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll find some more of the energy reserves. Another highlight for the weekend is that Beth doesn’t work on Sunday, so she and Nelson are going to attend the contemporary worship service at a nearby church on Easter. I can’t remember the last time she was willing to go to church.

Work was a little stressful. The last two days I’ve been giving regulators a bath test, looking for leaks: that can be repaired before we send them out, or that indicate they need to be junked. My team had worked a lot on these, but not everyone was as careful as necessary and consequently there were way to many that needed to be repaired.

Yesterday morning I started the day working on the Stud Press again. (Like on Wednesday) As I stood there, eyes glued to the slowly dropping press, I realized the absolute imperativeness to being present in the moment. I’ve not always been very good at this.

SATURDAY MORNING:Well, we just got back from breakfast at Denny’s. It was fun. In a little while we’re going to an Easter Egg hunt. That should be a blast. Great opportunity for lots of pictures.

(Back from the egg hunt)Well…that was interesting. They had two age groups: 0-5 and 5-12. Needless to say Penelope only picked up 5 eggs before the much faster moving 5yr olds had snatched everything away. Many of the parents were nabbing eggs for the little ones too. Oh well…it will be better next year.

After the hunt we went to Friendly’s for ice cream. Penelope mastered the art of drinking through a straw. Thanks to Grammy’s coaching! It was fun. I should have just ordered her a dish of whipped cream. She just loves the stuff. At breakfast she ate all the whipped cream off Annie’s hot chocolate and then had me spoon fed her the hot chocolate. At one point Annie tried to take it back and Penelope smacked her hand! Annie ordered herself another hot chocolate.

They’ve packed up and left for home. It’s quiet in the house now and all the toys are tucked away. I took lots of pics. I got a couple of her outside by my Pooh Easter yard signs. Her hair is so blonde and curly…she’s just adorable!

ABOUT THURSDAY NIGHT: I wanted to report about the Maundy Thursday service. It was a little awkward. The pastor recognized my face, but didn’t remember who I was. Transformation Network had been asked to read the scripture for the service because the offering that was being taken was being given to T-Net. The pastor asked why I was there and I said I was with T-Net. He assumed I was “working” with the ministry and while I am, it’s not the way he thought. Before I could straighten him out on that someone needed him somewhere else.

It was a nice service. During the service we sang the hymn “I Will Praise Him.” One phrase hit me hard and moved me to silence and tears: “My ambitions, plans, and wishes at my feet in ashes lay.” Words I could really relate to.

The pastor’s style really hindered my ability to hear what he was saying. He was so intense he was yelling. I wasn’t alone in my discomfort. One of the others from T-Net, a 50ish woman with considerable mental health issues, had to leave until he was done. She was able to return for communion, but was visibly shaken.

His loud delivery reminded me of a time when I took Annie to a revival service when she was about 4. The evangelist was very loud. She looked very puzzled and then asked me: Mommy, why is the preacher so angry? I clearly don’t miss being yelled at.

So, it was a mixed bag of things. But I definitely decided that being in a church building with many people truly didn’t make the experience feel more “spiritual” than my time with the small group at T-Net.

Well, I have some laundry to finish and beds to make. So I should probably pry my fingers from this keyboard for a bit.

Have a blessed Easter. Know hope, peace, and restoration. Alleluia!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Day Three Power

Wednesday. Hump day. Half way through the work week. It’s been a rough one. It’s been physically taxing and today was emotionally difficult as well. Yesterday I had some serious issues with one of the employees: the 21 year old. Taken separately they were troubling, but considering them all together, I had very little choice but to confront. And I don’t like to confront.

I wrote up my concerns and I requested back up. I asked Dan (director of T-Net) to be present. I wanted another set of ears there because I knew the 21 yr old had difficulty remembering things in their proper perspective, as they were said. I wanted to be able to deal with the distortions later…when the need arises.

Rather than face the issues the 21yr old used several different methods to deflect. She was defensive, claimed everything was an accident (as if accidents shouldn’t have consequences), blamed everyone else, pointed out the mistakes of others, and then finally just down emotionally blaming all the chaos in her life. Reality is that there is a ton of chaos in her life: she had a car accident on Friday, her 17yr old sister has cancer (and is undergoing some very serious treatments) thus making her parents pretty unavailable to her, her brother’s marriage is in the crapper and he’s trying to mooch off her, and then just the everyday stuff.

I felt myself getting sucked in to rescue her. I was able to maintain some internal distancing (aka healthy boundaries) while offering support. Afterward Dan admonished me to be careful. I heard him on a superficial level, but it wasn’t until later that his concern really grabbed my spirit. This is one of my weaknesses. So I thought it was very much like God to get through with his message.

I have a copy of “My Utmost for His Highest” in the bathroom. I figure it’s one place I visit on a daily basis so it’s also a good time to fill with good thoughts. Anyway, I grabbed it this morning during my pit stop. The message was one of not giving into rescuing or removing another person’s struggle from them. The struggle is a gift to them to make them dependent upon God. Then the last line: You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34 ). Wow! Now there’s something for me to meditate on today.

On a funner note…I was entrusted with power!!!! I started small with a heavy duty power stapler. (Insert Tim the Toolman noise here) Then I was trained on the stud press. Oh my. Big machine. Lots of power. Lots of sensors to keep you from smashing your hands or arms. That’s a little scary.

Another thing that felt really good today was that several of the factory employees included me in their jokes and conversations. This really seems to be a neat group of people.

So while I was working the stud press I was thinking. Good thing really. I’ve talked to several people about this career. The general response is one of not being able to handle the boredom or the repetition. I don’t mind it. In fact I enjoy it. I find the time refreshing. I don’t mind working alone. And while it’s noisy in the factory it has an odd sort of quiet feeling, too. Maybe that comes from the solitariness of the work. Whatever it is I like it. I like the opportunity to pray and praise.

(Finishing this up on Thursday morning)

Yesterday Dan asked if I wanted to go with him to a Maundy Thursday service. A local pastor had called Transformation Network to ask if some of the folks would come and represent T-Net and read scripture for the service. This church financially supports the ministry. Dan accepted the invite. He asked if I would be willing to read. My first response was to remind him that I wasn’t allowed in church. He assured me he had checked with probation and got it approved. I’m in! I haven’t been in a church service since August. This one should be interesting since I went to college with the pastor and know some people in the congregation. Hopefully God will smooth over some of the potential akwardness.

Well, this is droning on so I better post and get myself ready for work. Blessed day to one and all.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Wonderful Weariness

I’m spent. I was up at 5:30am. I was surprised at how well I slept—especially since when I went to bed I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve.

I got to work a little early. Not too much of a surprise there. I spent from 7-8:30 setting up for the work that was going to be done by the T-Net team. We had to tear apart some regulators and other pieces due to a leak. This wasn’t our fault—the parts came to us defective. It was physically challenging getting the parts apart. I ended up using a vise and an allen wrench to get the part to dislodge.

Early in the day Ed (plant manager) asked if I would be interested in getting some overtime this week. I jumped on that! I will be working 10 hours M-Thurs and 8 hrs on Friday. It’s been a LONG time since I got overtime pay!!! I will be one tired pup come the weekend, but it will be worth it!

I came home and did dishes and have looked twice at the laundry basket. Nelson took me out for dinner to a Chinese buffet. The gesture and love was ten times better than the food—but I didn’t care. He’s just so sweet!

Well, I’m going to watch “24” and then I’m going to toddle off to bed. Oh darn (she said with her tongue deeply lodged in her cheek) Nelson decided to take a shower…guess I can’t do the laundry….(giggles right out loud). Take care!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Retreat Notes

Home again, home again, tra la la la.

We are home from the retreat. It was so good. The lodge we stayed in was in a valley surrounded by a beautiful hillside, two creeks, and several waterfalls. It rained most of yesterday afternoon so I didn’t get to go exploring. I chose health over hike…not that I wanted to necessarily, but it was truly the wisest thing to do.

Our prayer times were quite blessed and the music turned out to be quite a blessing to me. I played one song and then we switched over to using CD’s. I put a lot of work into preparing and normally that kind of switch would have been very discouraging to me, but this group really responds better to the CD. I think in part that is because easier to join the group singing on the recording, and while singing live our voices make a very small group and so they sing small. It will be something I can work on or just go with what works. But for this experience, it was nice to just sing and not worry about leading. I was truly able to worship more freely.

On Saturday late afternoon we took a couple hours for personal quiet time. This was when a lot of people went off exploring the campgrounds. I took some time to play my guitar, read, and write. Good stuff came out of that time as well as other discussions from the weekend…Like:

Psalm 131:2 But I have stilled and quieted myself. Just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me.

Getting still is my job. And when I do I find contentment, satisfaction, connection, closeness, sustenance, protection, rest, security, and assurance. At least those are things I would imagine hat a breast fed child would receive. But getting still and quiet don’t come easily or naturally to me as an adult. I wasn’t taught to nurture this in myself.

Why would I not rush to quiet and stillness? Not valuing it. Not understanding it. Fear, and lack of trust that comes from never truly being based on God. Instead it is based on a foundation from earthly relationships. To combat that I need a transformation or reprogramming of my mind. As easily as I have accepted the lie—God, I need to help to stand as strongly for the truth about you.


When I was actively leading music in churches one of the hymns I avoided using was “There Will Be Showers of Blessing.” My reasoning against the hymn was that it was horribly ungrateful. Even though there would be daily and multiple blessings falling around us in the form of mercy drops, we selfishly plead for showers of blessing. I didn’t like that.

One of the songs we sang this weekend was Michael W. Smith’s “Let it Rain.” In it MWS pleads, as do many of the biblical writers: open the floodgates of heaven. Would we even know what that would look like? Do we really want that? When I got to the point, I began to pray: Lord, help us not to complain when we get wet!


At one point we were thinking about being silent. I was reminded of the scripture where Solomon admonished his readers (of Proverbs) to be slow to speak but quick to listen. I really felt checked here. I am so quick to jump quickly to words. Is that why God virtually shut my mouth? Had I forgotten how to listen?

I have recently described my passion for speaking and how heart-breaking it has been to lose that. I began praying that God would give me a passion for listening and the gift of hearing with the heart, for what is and isn’t said.

During my quiet time I was reminded of my times of driving down the road and singing this week. Several of the songs were written in a style or pattern that really frustrated the people in church. It was so hard to teach them songs that had a rest on the first beat. I sometimes found it to be challenging when I was leading singing to remember that silent beat and I would talk to the accompanist about being sure that (s)he would hit that down beat strongly.

As I reflected further on that, I sensed how much dependence was an issue here. The question was: how will I (we) know when to come in? Trust is so key here. This drove me to pray about trusting God in those quiet moments.

Later I’m going to write about my experience at the bank, but right now, I need to get to bed. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. Nothing new is really going to happen tomorrow, except I’ll be going to work much earlier and possibly staying later. I know there’s much more. I’m just trying to talk myself out of my nerves. It’s not working very well.

Sweet dreams.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Out the Door

I’ll be heading out here soon for the prayer retreat with the worship group from T-Net. I have been asked to lead some music. I prepared some. I’m taking my guitar. But I honestly don’t know if I’ll have any voice.

Last night when I got home from work I was miserable. I could barely breathe. Everyone was either making fun of the way I was talking (nasally clogged to the nth degree tank you berry mutch). It was so bad that I broke down and took some Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine. That stuff about makes me gag. But by the time I wanted to sleep, I could breathe a little through my nose. I slept in a chair in the living room with my feet propped up on another chair. I wasn’t sure I’d sleep well or much, but it really worked well. I knew if I laid down I would just drown or cough myself to death.

This morning I’ve been pulling things together to take for the retreat. It looks ridiculous. We have to take our own bedding. We’re cooking our own food. And I have the music and my guitar. Then there’s the suitcase that Nelson and I are sharing, his breathing machine, and various odds and ends. I just stook amidst the collection and laughed. We’re only going to be gone until tomorrow around lunch time!

I received good news yesterday: my drug screen came back clean. (Giggles) Me. Who’s never smoked a cigarette let alone anything “illegal”. Me. Who’s only been drunk once and decided never to do that again…ever! Me. Who feels guilty if I take over the recommended dosage of Advil. Tho’ I must confess I’ve been downing a considerable amount of cough syrup lately…but trust me: I hate it! So anyay: I get to start work on Monday!

At work on Friday I received my thing to get me into the building. It’s like a fob thing that I swipe across a padd at the door to gain access. I have it on my key ring. I got my time card and then went through some initial orientation stuff. They’re talking about giving me my own office, a computer, and three different printers.

Well, it’s time to go. Have a great day and know I’ll be praying for you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Big Smiles

I was going to come in here with some solid spiritual thoughts...aint gonna happen.

Annie called a little bit ago and informed us that there truly was a reason for her feeling nauseous recently. We're going to be grandparents again!!!! They are quite excited about this...and so are we.

Today Dan told the team that I've been hired on full-time at Reineke. No one had any problems with that. I spent time talking to the HR person, getting the paperwork started. Then I had to surrender some of my hair for a drug test. I would have rather kept my hair. I don't and have never done drugs, but I am losing my hair. No compromising on this one.

The insurance is pretty good. I'll be able to get perscription safety glasses and for practically nothing. The insurance kicks in after 90 days when I will also have my first review and be considered for pay increase. The uniforms are free. It's all sounding pretty good.

My cough is better. I've found some of my voice which is good since I need it for singing this weekend at the prayer retreat. Tomorrow is my last therapy session. I feel really good about that.

There are just some really big smiles coming from Ohio. Hope the light isn't too blinding.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Red Sea Rules

So the other day someone donated a box of books to the T-Net the other day. I couldn’t resist nosing through them. I found several that I was interested in and asked if I could borrow them. Permission granted. Oh, what joy…new books!

The book that really grabbed my attention was a thin work by Robert J. Morgan, entitled “The Red Sea Rules.” The pre-title is “10 God-Given Strategies For Difficult Times.” The post-title is “The Same God Who Led You In Will Lead You Out.” I was hooked and intrigued. The one thing I didn’t want to find was another trivialization of difficulty and of scripture. So far, I’ve been impressed…and blessed.

Basically the author is saying that the 10 rules (strategies) can be found in Exodus 14, the passage describing the children of Israel facing the Red Sea as they were leaving Egypt.

He begins by supporting the thought that God works in ways that we cannot see and that He always will make a way of escape for His “weary, but waiting, children.”

“I [the Lord] will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isa. 43:19, KJV)

“When you pray, keep alert and be thankful. Be sure to pray that God will make a way.” (Col. 4:2-3, CEV)

“The Lord will utterly…make a way to cross on foot.” (Isa. 11:15, NRSV)

“You can trust God. He will not let you be tested more than you can stand. But when you are tested, He will also make a way out so that you can bear it.” (1Cor. 10:13, Beck)

The first rule is: Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

The first chapters discuss difficulties that we face, including things like illnesses, financial reversals, disasters--things that happen to us, not because of anything that we have necessarily done. Great. I thought to myself. And then I quickly followed that up with, but what about me?

Then as I was reading in the quiet, sunshine this morning I stumbled into his chapter: What If It’s My Fault? I fell into the pages like Alice tumbling into the looking glass. Morgan made these points:
-(He spends a paragraph discussing confession and repentance and then he says) He (God) weaves everything together to advance His purposes.
-He then moves on to discuss self-forgiveness--always easier said than done. Here’s the quote: “Self-forgiveness comes when we realize that if God has forgiven us, we needn’t remain angry with ourselves, needn’t hate ourselves any longer. God will use it all for good.” (p. 15)
-Quoting Sidlow Baxter: There is a compassionate adaptability about God’s will for us,. Because we have not been in God’s special will for us from the beginning, there is no reason why we should not get into it now. He can take up from where we get right.”

Even if we end up at the Red Sea because of something foolish we have done: He can still make a way!

I’m ready for Rule #2…I think.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sunday Blessings

Shhhhhh. Don't tell, but I slept last night. Really slept. I know I woke up a couple time as I stiffly rolled over. But I didn't cough myself awake. I don't think I coughed at all, not once. I had no drainage that left me feeling like I was drowning either. And I slept until nearly 6am. That's after going to bed shortly after 10pm. Wow.

Nelson bought a store brand cough syrup. It has a decongestant in it. The down side is that while I slept really well...I have no voice. Antihistimes do that to me. I avoid taking them as long as I can, but then when the cough gets intolerable (due to the drainage and the bronchial gunk) I surrender. I have surrendered. I'd rather not cough. A really bad coughing fit can send me straight to the bathroom or my closet for clean clothes and undies. Sigh.

So I'm not sure about the music for worship today. I can play the guitar fine. I guess I'll start each song and then let them sing. That should work. I picked some really familiar songs. Afterwards we'll meet up with Nelson's boss and another couple for lunch. We going to Golden Corral today.

After lunch I'm heading to Ann's. Penelope is still not feeling well. So it's Grammy to the rescue! There's no work for us at the factory tomorrow so I'll watch Penelope so Annie can go to work. Nelson will going over later in the week to go with Annie and Penelope to an Orthopedic appointment. Have I mentioned that there has been concern since Penelope started walking about the bowing of her legs? Well, let me mention it now: her legs bow considerably. Annie asked about it when she had Penelope at the doctor last week. He expressed concern and immediately made an appointment--for this week. Annie is quite happy to have her Daddy with her for the appointment.

I had a special blessing yesterday afternoon. Beth was getting ready to head back to work and she noticed that someone had pulled into the drive/ally behind her truck and was parking. I went to the door and found that our visitors were our former pastors (married couple) from our church in Springfield (the last church we were at before moving here). Jeff and Joyce had been at a conference meeting nearby and decided to stop in before driving home. We had a lovely visit. Nelson wasn't feeling well and was taking a nap so he missed it. It was good to share news and blessings. And get real hugs. That right there probably fed my soul more than anything! Wow!

Well, it's time to start waking people up and getting ready for worship (physically, the spiritual has already been worked on!)


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Passing the Book Stick

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
I think I would like to be a copy of Fahrenheit 451. That way if I was found on a midnight run for my destruction, perhaps I would pique someone’s curiosity and maybe same myself from the fire.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Yes, Laurie of Little Women. I think when I was little I dreamt of finding a man as sensitive and loving, patient and forgiving as Laurie. I think I did.

3. The last book you bought was...?
“Care of The Soul” Thomas Moore and a copy of “Your God is Too Safe” by Mark Buchanan (to replace the copy I “took” from my friend Steve).

4. The last book you read was...?
“Brokenness” by Nancy Leigh-Demoss
“Your God is Too Safe” by Mark Buchanan

5. What are you currently reading?
“Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
“Page by Page”
“Centering Prayer” by M. Basil Pennington
“The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom
“The Red Sea Rules” by Robert J. Morgan

6. Five books you would take to a desert island?
My study Bible (the one I had in jail with me…which WAS sort of like a desert island)
“Seeds of Hope” (It’s a collection quotes and anticdotes by Henri Nouwen.)
A Hymnal…not sure which one, might have to think on that for a bit.
A book that would teach me sign language. Entertaining learning.
A book on surviving on a desert island. Probably a Reader’s Digest book: with lots of pictures and how to’s.

What three people are you passing this stick on to and why?
Biscotti Brain
Rev Mommy
(and anyone else interested…coz I love reading about what others are reading!)

Thanks Saija. This was a lot of fun!

Snowy Saturday Thoughts

I'm frustrated. For the last couple days I had lots of trouble getting in to read blogs. Then when I could, I couldn't leave notes. Today I was able to pull up screens to leave notes, but now the notes aren't showing up. What's up with that?

And another thing. Not all records need to be broken. I'm referring here to snow. Day before yesterday, the news around here was that we were on our way to breaking the all time season snow record. It's something like 102.3 inches and we were at 93.8 inches. And it's snowed the last two days. Last night we got about 4 inches of the white stuff. And it's still coming down!!!!!!!!

I'm tired of snow. And cold. And my cold.

There isn't any work for us at the factory on Monday. I'm thinking that would be a wonderful day to go visit Penelope. Tuesday morning I have an appointment in Bucyrus to visit the plant we do all the packaging for. I could drive to Annie's on Sunday and stay through Tuesday morning and just stop at the plant on the way home in the morning.

But only if it stops snowing. I'm such a weather weenie. Have a blessed Saturday!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Happy Dance Day

It was so hard to keep a straight face this afternoon. All I wanted to do was whoop and giggle. After spending a couple hours working with Ed on a corrective action plan for a problem that occurred while shipping out the last order for T-company yesterday, he looked at me and asked if I was ready to go full-time. I said, “Yes sir!”

I spent some more time with Ed later going over some initial paperwork. He will be in Tennessee on company business next week and then late in the week we’ll finish the paperwork and I’ll start full-time on 3/21. I will have uniforms so I don’t have to keep ruining my own clothes. And I will have INSURANCE!!! I will be making $8 an hour. That may not sound like much, but when I only made $105 total all last year—it’s a fortune and a blessing.

I was able to contain my excitement until I got home and then I started doing the happy dance. I called Nelson right away, because I had to tell someone. He was really excited for me and appropriately supportive. He was very happy to hear that there would be insurance!

After I talked to Nelson I called my PO. I needed to check on permission to go with Nelson’s boss and wife to a Seder meal. I also wanted to talk to her about therapy. When we moved here my therapist wanted to close my case, but the PO’s thought that I should maintain therapy while I transitioned. Now that I’m working full-time I can’t afford to take off a day every two weeks for therapy. I was extremely pleased when I talked to her. She granted permission for the Seder meal and told me that she felt that I was sufficiently transitioned so I could close the therapy! YAY!

So it’s a happy dance kind of night—and the daughter is bringing us home Long John Silver’s for dinner. Oooo, and CSI is on later. I’ll probably make another cup of Chai and just settle in to enjoy the good feeling.

Hope you can happy dance about something in your life too!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A MUCH Better Day

Thank you. And I'm sorry. I was horribly sucked into that pity party. Whew. The pain was real and I just struggled to get out.

Later in the evening I talked to Beth (our 21 yr old daughter) about the frustration I had had all day with the 21 yr old. I was able to paint the picture in a totally humerous way. I'm guessing it was humerous since she was laughing so hard that she had to keep wiping her eyes. Finally, she just looked at me and told me I probably ought to pray about my attitude. This from the child who hasn't demonstrated any spiritual inklings for a couple years.

So I did. And I realized that I need to really change how I was dealing with the 21yr old. In addition to this challenging person, I also work with a 26yr old guy who at age 15 was hit by a car while riding his bike and his brains were splattered on the pavement. The way it's been described to me, not all his brains went back in. So Mikey has some serious mental challenges. Unfortunately, he also has some serious legal issues. Mikey is a registered sexual preditor. Mike also had another accident this January and I think he lost a little more brain power.
Anyway, the last couple of days I started using some of the teaching techniqes I learned while working with MRDD clients. The suggestion is to give at least 4 positive comments for every instruction or "negative" comment. It really worked for Mikey. He was lapping up the praise. He worked really, really hard.

As I was praying and considering how I had been reacting to the 21yr old, I realized my praise to negative comments were terribly skewed and I needed to rectify that. So today I did. And I am happy to report that it was a MUCH better day. We were short a person and still completed a big order (that wasn't due until Friday and no one was really sure we'd get it done by then) and were able to set up for tomorrow. My feet may have been heavy as I walked out of the building, but my heart was much, MUCH lighter!

At one point today the plant manager, Ed, came and thanked us for our hard work and effort on finishing the order. He also asked if I had any computer experience. Maybe just a little. Ya think? He also told me that he wants to take me over to the T-company plant in B-town (about an hour away) to meet with the people there. T-company has decided to do all their hub work with R-company so I need to know the people I'll be working with. The computer question came because I'll be doing all the purchase ordering and making all the shipping tags. Made me feel good. Still haven't met with the owner, Ed, and Dan to talk about the hiring process. Hopefully that will happen soon.

I came home, started laundry, made homemade soup for dinner, and put my feet up! I think I'll have a cup of Chai and spend a quiet evening reading about the lives and interests of some very interesting people!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Not Happy At All

I have had a couple of rough days at work. I know I've mentioned that I am a workaholic and a perfectionist. Another problem for me is that I can see what needs to get done and I know that it would be so much easier for me to just do the job rather than depend on others. I mean, afterall, they just don't have the level of commitment that I do to getting the job done (pardon me while I excise my tongue from my cheek).

But seriously...I have always done more than my fair share just to make sure that the job gets done. And dangnabit I'm falling right back into that pattern. No one else keeps the entire job in view and so I do this and that for others in addition to getting my job done. I anticipate the needs around me and I step in to fill them. I'm like that plate spinner at the circus...It is my responsibility to keep not only my plates but everybody elses' plates spinning.

The up side to this is lots of work gets done. The down side is that occasionally I notice when someone isn't carrying even their fair share. Today the 21yr old gal on our team had one responsibility: place one square of bubble wrap on the top of the part in the box and slide it to the next person. One step. One piece. And she wasn't taking any care with what she was doing. So I asked her to please make sure that the bubble wrap was in the box before she slid it on so that the next guy didn't have to finish her one step and do his job too.

Now here's where I almost lost it. When your supervisor tells you, in a nice way, to please do something do you give them lip? Do you start making up a hundred excuses? Or do you just say, "Ok." Period. And then do it. Not the 21yr old. I finally got her to stop talking and just told her again to please just make sure it was in the box. That worked for about 5 boxes.

Later we were running out of boxes and I had been anchoring the line. I asked the guy between me and the 21yr old if he could handle his position and mine. He could have, but he suggested that the 21yr old make boxes. I thought right. This will go over well. So I asked. And she started the commentary response again. I told her to never mind and went and did it myself.

Later I was helping out at the end of the line, making boxes, and trying to work ahead a little on some other things. There was a lull in production so I told the 21yr old to make boxes. She got huffy and said she could only do it for a few miniutes. I said fine, just do it. She got huffier, accusing me of yelling at her. I may have raised my voice--to be heard! I know that my tone was terse and that's probably what she responded to.

This all came on the heels of a pretty serious act of insubordination by the 21yr old yesterday. I'm not happy.

Towards the end of the day she did apologize for her attitude. I accepted the apology and we talked about her style of response. I will try harder to anticipate it and work with it. I'm still not real happy, but I'll get over it.

This afternoon while I was making boxes I started to feel a real emotional heaviness. At first I attributed it to anticipating a negative response from my PO regarding a question I need to ask. On March 19 and 20 our worship group is having a prayer retreat at a nearby camp. It's an overnight thing and she has the final say over any overnights for me. I was most afraid that she was going to stick her nose into my attendance and participation with the worship group and worst case: tell me I had to quit attending. I was extremely pleased when she not only approved the prayer retreat, but also encouraged me regarding playing my guitar. Then we sat there for about another half hour while she talked about her kids and her boss. One of the last things she said was very affirming. She said, "You're doing really well." That did make me happy.

But it didn't complete drive away the emotional heaviness. While I was making boxes I realized what the issue was and I stood there and cried. I'm crying now. The saddness arose as I contemplated some stuff we've been reading in "Purpose Driven Life." We're in the section on SHAPE. Today's theme was about using our abilities for God.

He went on and on about how God made us uniquely and there's no one else who can do what God has gifted us to do and assigned to us. If we don't do it, it doesn't get done. We need to be using our gifts, our abilities, and our passions.

But what if we're not allowed? What if we've screwed up and we can't do what gives us joy? I love to preach and teach. I'm talented. I'm gifted. I feel most alive when I'm in front of a crowd speaking, teaching, preaching. I can't describe the ache I feel. I miss singing. Really singing. Not just sitting in a room and strumming a little. Sometimes I miss it so bad I just feel like I could burst...but instead I just cry and cry and cry.

I have to believe that it's no mistake that I'm where I am, but I'm not using my gifts or abilities--I'm not allowed. And I'm not happy. Not happy at all.

Friday, March 04, 2005

My Protector

It’s 6:15pm and it’s still light outside. I love the way the days get longer. The darkness of winter is passing and my soul is happier each day.

This reminds me of summer nights. I love how it stays light until nearly 10pm. I love when the fireflies come out and dance over the yards and fields. We would play and play and play until the streetlights came on. I’m not sure if we would turn into gremlins or not, but we were never allowed out after the streetlights came on. I can still hear my mom hollering, “Do you see those streetlights? Get your butts in this house right now!”

We always had to be within yelling distance. We never wanted to hear, “Didn’t you hear me calling for you?” A statement like that was always followed by a swat on the behind. Sometimes I would be playing at my friend’s house. Her mom didn’t yell she would either whistle or ring the bell. We could play way down in the woods and still hear the bell. But even if we didn’t she wouldn’t swat us.

This week we were reading in “Purpose Driven Life” and he was talking about meditating on scripture. Warren was saying that one of the benefits of meditating on scripture is that it keeps you within the sound of God’s voice. Here’s the exact quote: “Daily Bible reading will keep you in the range of God’s voice.” (p. 188) Now that’s one voice I never want to be out of range to hear.

Speaking of quotes, (nice segue, huh?) here’s the one on Centering Prayer that I got from Jim, the worship study leader, on Sunday:

“I think it will be easy to bring you to the heart of true prayer…If you carefully keep this formula before you, and learn to recollect it at all times, it will help you to mount to contemplation of high truth. Everyone who seeks for continual recollection of God uses this formula for meditation, intent upon driving every other sort of thought from his heart.

The formula was given us by a few of the oldest fathers…to only a very few who were athirst for the true way. To maintain an unceasing recollection of God, this formula must be ever before you. The formula is this: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.”

Rightly has this verse been selected from the whole bible (Ps 70:1) to serve this purpose. It suits every mood and temper of human nature, every temptation, every circumstance. It contains an invocation of God, a humble confession of faith, a reverent watchfulness, a meditation on human frailty, an act of confidence in God’s response, an assurance of His ever-present support. The man who continually invokes God as his protector is aware that God is ever at hand.”
(Abba Isaac, 4th or 5th c from “Second Conference of Abba Isaac On Prayer” quoted by M. Basil Pennington in “Centering Prayer” pg. 27-28)

I love that explanation. When I feel I’m going under and cry out “Help me, God!” all those things described above play a role in the prayer. It’s all good and good to know that my protector is ever at hand.

And speaking of hands, here’s a couple of my thoughts on Peter walking on the water. Let me start by saying I think that Peter was incredibly arrogant for getting out of the boat. In Matthew’s account (!4:25-33) it’s night and Jesus is walking out to them. They thought it was a ghost. Jesus assures them by identifying himself and telling them to not be afraid. Period. Oddly, in Mark’s gospel (which is Peter’s story) in Mark 6:45-52, the story ends there. Peter doesn’t boast about getting out of the boat. I don’t believe he felt very good about what happened.

Verse 28 seems to me to be the epitome of arrogance. Jesus doesn’t come strolling out on the water and then present the challenge to them to trying do the same. He didn’t say if they didn’t get out of the boat they’d never know the thrill of trusting God. It was Peter’s idea to get out of the boat. Peter wanted to walk on water like Jesus.

Now, why would Jesus invite Peter out of the boat? I can only surmise, but I think it had a whole more to do with teaching Peter about his limitations and his need to depend upon Jesus than upon challenging Peter with achieving the impossible. This was a teachable moment. The wind and waves rose and caught Peter’s attention and down he went. He wasn’t made to walk on water, but he was made to reach out to Jesus.

So there you have it. I think Peter was arrogant. I don’t think he should have asked to walk on the water. But I’m thankful that Jesus used the moment teach Peter. I’m glad the story of Peter’s arrogance, failure and falling are recorded in scripture because they give me hope. You see, I too was arrogant. I tried to take on more than I was made to take on. I failed and I fell. But just when I needed to, I was able to look up, cry out for help, and find Jesus reaching his hand out to me.

I guess that’s why the formula prayer means so much to me. It’s good to know my protector is ever near.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Thoughts on Maturing

I didn’t have to work today. The factory didn’t order boxes in time for us and since there none until tomorrow, I got the day off. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. As I was leaving the factory, the plant manager told me that he could two of our 6 team members to work in the Pressure Guard area. He suggested me and one of two other guys. Hmmmm. A dilemma. Fortunately, he suggested that I talk it over with Dan and let him know.

Earlier in the day, Ed (the plant manager) had spoken to me about going full time and working between the factory and supervising the T-Net portion. (That was the original offer.) I told him that I was definitely interested. He seemed pleased and said that we would get together with the factory owner and Dan (director of T-Net) next week and hammer out the details. I about flew out of the office. I felt hopeful and happy. It felt good!

When I got back to T-Net at the end of the day, I talked to Dan about the day, the offer, and the dilemma. I suggested that since I was already looking at being hired on that he consider sending both the other guys out to the factory to work. These guys are really hard workers, and both of them need the opportunity to work full-time. Dan thought it was a good idea. He told them that I was willing to step aside for them. They seemed really appreciative. I didn’t do it for that…but it felt good.

So, I got to sleep in this morning until 7am. Now that really felt good!!! And I’m at T-Net working on grants. Can’t you tell I’m working on grants? I have done some reading and pulled up a couple sights to check, but I wanted to come here and write about something that we went over in devotions this morning.

We’re on day 28 in Purpose Driven Life: Growth Takes Time. He opens the chapter by talking about how tomatoes are picked green for shipping and then before they’re put out for sale, they’re given a shot of CO2 that “forces” them to ripen. He invites the reader then to consider the difference between the quality (and deliciousness) of vine ripened tomatoes verses the forced ripened ones we usually find in the market. We were all salivating thinking of the juicy fresh tomatoes of summer.

As I was thinking of the process of maturing, I was quickly reminded of a time when I took my then three year old daughter to the library. She insisted that she wanted to learn to read. I assured her that she would. That was not good enough. She wanted to learn right then! I tried to explain the process, but my words fell on angry and disappointed ears.

Kids want to grow up so fast. That led me to think about the whole “gotta get my license NOW” thinking. It scares me that some states allow children to drive when they are only 14. No 14 year old is mature enough to manage the decisions it takes to control the mass weapon of destruction we call the automobile. I thought it was interesting that I caught a passing blurb while surfing the net where some states are considering raising the age for acquiring one’s driving license.

What is with the obsession with growing up so fast? I can remember wistfully wishing I was older and on my own, old enough to make my own decisions, just older! I remember both of my girls verbalizing similar wishes; usually when they were receiving a consequence for their misbehavior—as if being older would absolve them of the consequences. And, isn’t that immature thinking at its worst?

I wish I would have been raised by people with healthier boundaries. I wish I would have been around more people that understood the importance of rhythm and pace, of the process of ripening. My life was consumed with competition (between my siblings and me, and between my friends and me). Life was about achieving and accumulating: knowledge and possessions. It wasn’t until the last four years that I have begun to value process, journey, balance, and peace.

If there is any gift I can give to my children now, and to my grandchildren (optimistically thinking in the plural!), it would be the lessons I have been learning. I want them to relish the moment, the living in the now so that when they get to where I am there will be fewer “I wish I hads” and “if only.”

Mmmmm. Smells like lunch just arrived I’ll have to finish thinking about this later!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Work Ethic

What is your work ethic?

I’m some crazy combination of Puritan work ethic, perfectionism, and workaholic. I find that it is really easy for me to get annoyed or irritated with people when it seems that they are goofing off.

I was thinking about this today. I don’t remember feeling this way when I was on salary. But today while I was working I was very hard I was aware that one of my co-workers wasn’t putting forth the same effort. My hard work was building our quantity of piecework. Our pay is based on piece production. She was/is going to earn based on the total—the total I worked hard to increased while she slogged through the day.

As I contemplated this I was reminded of the story that Jesus told about the landowner who hired workers. (See Matthew 20: 1-16)When I hired on I knew that the wage was $5.50. I knew that if we had high production days there was the possibility of bonuses. But I didn’t sign on for this job because of the money. Well, maybe a little.

I didn’t like feeling the way the scripture described the grumbly workers. Their theme song was “it’s not fair.” I hate that. I don’t want to sound like that.

So I stopped. It’s my choice, how I feel. I decided to choose to be happy that others were hired to work—whether they had the same work ethic as me or not.

I noticed another thing this afternoon. I was off to the side where I could watch the regular factory workers work. At times it almost seemed as if they were moving in slow motion. I felt an irritation rising within me. It was like, wait. I am working my butt off and only making a pittance compared to your wage that is at least twice as much as mine. It seemed that they justified their slower work pace this way: hey, I get $X whether I make 800 parts or 500 parts so why bust my butt? Excuse me?

Excuse me? That’s right. That’s the danger. I am blessed, totally blessed to be able to work. Drat that over-active work ethic. It impinges on my joy way too often. It pushes me to work harder, harder than I worked before, and harder than everyone around me.

To be very honest, going back to work has been a scary proposition for me. Prior to my crash and burn, I had worked myself to death. I was working two full-time jobs, being a mom, a wife, a housekeeper (of sorts), and a friend. I created a situation where I was working myself into a position of indispensability at my one job (the counseling one). My skills as a counselor and pastor/preacher or speaker were respected and requested. I had horrible boundaries. I had quit taking care of myself. I was all out for everybody else. It was the perfect set up for moral failure.

I put myself into counseling. I had a super therapist to start with. I worked hard on my issues. I needed to be sure that I knew how I got to there so that I would never go there again. One of the clear answers was to establish healthy boundaries. Easier said than done, especially for someone who is so prone to over indulging in the area of work.
So now I’m back to work full time. Last week I skipped lunch to be sure that we got a job done. When the day was over and I was able to reflect I saw how incredibly unhealthy that was! No more.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I write about work so much. I want to be sure to examine my motives and my actions. I want to be accountable. It means challenging a lot of the old messages, old habits. But in the end…it will be a good thing. I will still work hard, because that’s who and how I am. But I will do it in healthy, balanced, and responsible ways…by God’s grace and with his help!


Today was rough. My hands hurt and I was really fighting a heavy heart. It's sort of hard to describe. I don't feel sad personally. I'm just sensing a lot of sadness around me. It's sort of like how the scriptures describe how Jesus looked at the crowds and felt compassion for them. He looked around at the crowd and reached out to them because they were weary and weak. Now, I know I'm no Jesus, but sometimes I feel just a piece of his heart...and it's a heavy thing!
I just felt on the edge of tears all day.

I've still been thinking about the whole concept of accepting the good and not the bad. So often we don't get what we want. I've had numerous conversations with people who are confused and on the verge of walking away from following God because they feel that the promises aren't being kept.

One of the biggies for many people is the promise of Psalms that God will give us our heart's desire. There are many disappointed people because they wish for something, sometimes for a very long time and they never see it come to pass. Is God a liar?

I don't think so and here's why. I think we misinterpret the verse. I think my "take" on this verse came out of many disappointments and much confusion. Like a child I would run to tell my heavenly Father my latest heart's desire and then I would wait--expecting and hoping. And nothing. For a long time, I quit hoping.

Then something happened. When I experienced my great breaking, I began to consider a different meaning to this verse. It was as if it was whispered into my aching heart. What if we chose to read the verse that instead of us telling God what we want, what if God told us what our heart's desire is? He will give us our heart's desire.

The most satisfying times in my life I believe have been the result of God forming that desire in me and my falling in love with what God really wants for me. There's no wrestling here, no disappointment, only life, and life more abundant.

That sounds good to me. He knows the plans He has for me...I need to let him dream them in me.

Wait till you hear my take on Peter getting out of the boat...I'm just a little hairy tick.