Monday, October 31, 2005


It has been quite a week in contrasts for me, all the way through yesterday morning when the message title was "The Great Commission In Contrast."

Early last week I was struck by the concept of sin, my own sin in particular. I remember teaching about sin and how the deceiver comes at us, knowing how to lure us into sin. I taught then and still believe that if sin came knocking at our door in all its ugliness, clearly holding forth the consequences, we would run from it like we would run from a grotesque Halloween monster!

When I look at my own life, I would never have imagined that I would have been caught up in what I was. The deceiver was premier at hooking my bent toward arrogance, appealing to my need to be needed, and convincing me that I could walk right up to the edge and not fall off. I knew what the outcome could and probably would be, but The Twister of the Truth shielded the depth of loss from my view and convinced me that I could come through unscathed. Lies. Nothing but lies.

Knowing better and doing less resulted in massive amounts of shame and that was the second thing that I battled with this week. I worked last Sunday and while I was working I dropped a gage I was working with. The guy I was working with (who had really been trained to do the job while I was given a very quick briefing on what I was to do and none of the why or detail) didn’t say anything about it so I kept working with it. Wednesday we were notified that there was a problem with the part. I was asked about dropping the gage. I admitted it. I felt so stupid. Then I did what I’m good at: I beat myself up. I let the shame monster rise up and eat away at all my confidence.

Thursday and Friday we started a new process of stamping parts. I felt horribly inadequate. I was functioning out of fear of failure rather than competence. Finally on Friday I was feeling better when I found out that the gage problem wasn’t my fault. But walking for a couple of days in a shroud of shame became the field of reflection for me. During those dark hours I heard a song by Joy Williams. It’s called "Hide." Here are the words:

To anyone who hides behind a smileTo anyone who hold there pain insideTo anyone who thinks they’re not good enoughTo anyone who feels unworthy of loveTo anyone who ever closed the doorClosed their eyes and locked themselves away
Chorus:You don’t have to hideYou don’t have to hide anymoreYou don’t have to face this on your ownYou don’t have to hide anymore
So come out, come outCome out wherever you are
Anyone who’s trying to cover up their scarsTo anyone who’s ever made a big mistakeWe’ve all been there so don’t be ashamedSo come out, come out and join the rest of usYou’ve been alone for way to long
And if you feel like no one understandsCome to the one with scars on His handsCause He knows where you are and where you’ve beenHis scars will heal you if you let Him
You don’t have to…You don’t have to hideCome out, come out wherever you areYou don’t have to hideCome out, come outCome out wherever you areYou don’t have to hideYou don’t have to…

I sat in my office listening to the words and when she got to that verse about how we’ve "all been there so don’t be ashamed." All the loneliness in my heart that I had been trying to ignore welled up in huge overwhelming waves of sobs and tears. I wish I didn’t have to hide. I wish I didn’t have to wear a mask. I don’t really trust enough that there are enough people who will understand, forgive, and still love. I’m not done with this one…revisit we will.

Saturday Nelson and I decided to go visit the older daughter so I could get a dose of my Penelope. Best choice. We played and laughed and laughed and played. And when it was time to go she cried and latched onto me. Then I cried. This little person owns my heart. I can’t hardly imagine how much fun and love there’s going to be with three!

My cup felt much fuller and a smile had come back to my face. Then Nelson and I went to church and it was tremendous. The service again was quite good. The message was fresh and the music caused my spirit to soar. Nelson and I decided to go to ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship, aka: Sunday School). We were received wonderfully. So many people introduced themselves that my brain was turning to mush trying to keep all the names straight. It was a good kind of overwhelming feeling.

Now it’s back to work. I’m not sure what demons will be lurking there, but I’m going in with a fuller cup and I will seek to keep it full…or fuller than I did last week. We’ll see how that works—I’m sure much better!

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I dwell in possibility.
If I can stop one heart from breaking, I will not live in vain.
We turn not older with years, but newer every day.

The above are quotes attributed to Emily Dickinson. I have the first one on a poster that used to hang beside my desk. I like it a lot. It fits me well.

I was reminded of that poster and sentiment as I was reading through other people’s diaries/blogs. Thinking about it made me curious about Emily Dickinson, so I did some internet reading about her. It sounds like she lived a very sad life. Most of the articles I read described her as a social recluse. To me she sounded depressed, terribly talented and depressed.

I do dwell in possibility. I am an "I can" person. I am able to look at most any situation and see a way to make it better. I love to be given the opportunity of turning around an inefficient or unproductive system.

I attribute this ability to my father. When I was growing up, he worked for Columbia Gas (a natural gas supplier). About the time I entered Junior High he started a new position with the company. He would travel throughout Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and to Delaware, visiting various offices, working with them to turn around their deficits. But he was never satisfied with mere improvement. He would turn fiscal disasters into what the company identified as "orchid" offices. It was a complete turnaround. I never got the details–especially when he would dwell on numbers. I did, however, catch the spirit and the drive–the vision for what could be and the consuming drive to get there.

The second quote caught my attention and initially I was ready to say that it really summed me up. The more I thought about it, though, the more it just didn’t seem to fit.

I was reminded of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Remember when the Wizard was ‘caught’ blowing smoke and then pulls out his bag to give them what they sought? The Wizard offers the Tin Man a heart shaped watch, a testimonial. The Wizard says something about how the heart will never be practical until it can be made to not be broken. There was a time when I might have agreed. But just as I don’t think my purpose is to be about saving everyone from having a broken heart, I don’t think the best heart to have is an unbroken one.

A baseball player wouldn’t walk into the game with a glove that hadn’t been broken in. A marathon runner wouldn’t show up at a race with shoes that had not been broken in. Without understanding pain, loss and sadness can I really appreciate love? If one knows no disappointment, can one really know joy?

Is that too overstated? Perhaps I need to make that more personal, individual. It reminds me of a conversation I was having with Beth recently. We somehow got onto the topic of my family’s dynamics. We were classically dysfunctional, but I didn’t know how much so until I started reading about dysfunction and double bind when I was living in Kansas City and in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). It’s sort of odd. As a family we’re very dysfunctional and in the midst of it all I am the picture of resiliency.

To begin with, I was the anticipated and longed for child–except I had the terrible misfortune of being born a girl. An instant disappointment that lasted until my brother’s birth. So in some ways I have the characteristics of a first born, but many of a second born. Talk about identity confusion.

Then I had the added burden of being born with a defect. Now granted, it wasn’t totally disfiguring or limiting, but it was constantly held up as a burden of finances and time. There was no way I could make my eyes work together. I was wearing classes and patches when I was only two. I cringe when I look at pictures of me as a toddler and throughout school. In the days before lazars, I was a test case and experiment. The science was being perfected. At 48, I still have a horribly ‘lazy’ eye and no hope for improvement. I wish I could describe how frustrating it it at times to be talking directly to someone only to have them look over their shoulder in an attempt to see who I’m really looking at.

Then my parents had another child. Soon, not only was not the golden child, I wasn’t even cute. My little sister was born and she was perfect. Thick curly locks framed her cherub-like face and huge deeply perfect eyes.

The competition in our household was extreme. We competed most for our parents’ attention and the meager displays of affection. The relationships between us as adults continues to be strained. I think our parents meant to encourage us to be better, to do better, so there were often comparison statements made. They may have been effective in their immediate result, but the residual sucks.

Never feeling like I could measure up, I threw myself into perfecting my behavior. If what I was wasn’t good enough then perhaps I could find the approval I so naturally craved through recognition of what I did. I became a human doing. I applied this theory to my spiritual life as well as all other aspects of my person and my relationships. I constantly strived for recognition and approval, but rarely believed what I got.

There have been three key relationships in my life that were focused on proving the ‘love-ability’ of another person. Each one could have "destroyed" my facade of perfection. Each person keyed into my neediness and vulnerability. In each I allowed myself to be victimized, controlled, lost. I nearly killed myself with the last one. Looking back, I believe I did want something to die. And something did. I did.

It was through breaking that I finally was able to be whole. The amazing thing I am learning is that the wholeness has very little to do with the image I thought was so important. It isn’t about winning a competition. It isn’t about the praise and awards. It is about feeling good about me, overweight, crooked eye, popping jaw, thin hair, beat up car, unused degrees and all. It’s about knowing that right now I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and being me–no more, no less.

I felt this other day very clearly when I was talking with the Lieutenant Governor and Mr. R. When Mr. R made comment again about getting me back into teaching. I said out loud (to my own amazement) that even if I could just teach part time, that would be more than I hoped to happen. Right now, I am very content with my job and see it as important work. The value might not be seen by others, but I saw Friday afternoon.

We are going to be starting a new procedure of stamping our parts with an identifying mark and date. The machine we use, if not used properly, could seriously injure a person. I wanted some input from my Team Leaders about who they saw as being the most qualified for the job. So, at the end of the day I pulled them in for a meeting, explained what I envisioned and invited their thoughts. Their eyes were big as saucers–someone wanted, requested and valued, their opinion. I knew the look, I knew the feeling, because not too long ago I felt it when I was told how much I was valued there.

As I sit here typing in my living room with Nelson asleep in the hospital bed across from me, my eyes are full of tears. I had been used to having my opinion sought. But I always assumed it was because of what I knew, what I did, and how I did it. It wasn’t until I lost all position and started over from the heap of brokenness that I began to realize that I don’t have it all looking put together to have value.

So I see my purpose not in keeping hearts from breaking, but in helping others start to see the beauty in the pieces that remain. I’m about rebuilding. I’m about seeing the possibility. It’s like creating mosaics: taking the pieces and making something beautiful.

I like the way the sounds. I like the fit on that. It’s a lot of who I am.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guess Who I Met?

What a day I had!

The morning was spent working on the problem from yesterday morning. Faxes, researches, counting, contacting, talking, walking. Nothing has been determined, but at least I know where the MSDS sheets are stored.

Then right before lunch and for a while after lunch I had to do an extremely detailed inventory to accommodate a change in procedure. It never seems to fail, just when I think I have it all and put it down nice and neat, I remember something else and have to start over. I restarted 4 times, but it finally got done. Part of what took a chuck of time was that I created a new form to use for the process. It’s needed to be redone since I started, today I just bit the bullet and cranked one out.

In between all of that I generated all the labels and work orders for the current day’s packaging and tomorrow’s as well. I just love changing ribbons and rolls of labels. Have I ever mentioned how non-technological or mechanical I am? Machines have always intimidated me, but I am getting better. It’s funny because I’ve sort of convinced folks that I know what I’m doing. In the past this was a problem for me and resulted in my taking on too much. Now, I’m just learning how and getting better. And I am getting better–but I already said that.

Finally, at about 2:30pm I made it out to the floor to actually do some hands on work on the line. About the time that I had closed a couple dozen boxes Mr. R walked up to the line. He asked how long we’d be working. I told him until 3:30 and he smiled. Then he told me that Betty Montgomery was going to be coming by to check out our work program. We worked right up to 3:20. We no sooner started to close down and clean up when around the corner came our state’s Auditor. I spent about 15 minutes talking about the strengths and accomplishments of our program. Ms. Montgomery seemed very interested and was very easy to talk to. I think I did ok–sure helps that speaking and "selling" are strengths of mine.

At one point at the conversation Ms. Montgomery asked what I did three years ago. The question stunned me for a moment. Quick scan. What was she really asking? I stated that 4yrs ago I turned myself in for a crime, but that prior to that I had been a counselor and a pastor. I decided she wasn’t asking so much what had gotten me there, but what equipped me for the current position. By the way that the conversation went, I think I answered appropriately.

At this point, Mr. R told her that I was a “graduate” of the program. He went on to repeat his promise of getting me back to teaching. I was humbled again by his support. That wasn’t the first time this week he did that, though.

Last week when I saw my PO I asked again about the early release. She owned that due to busyness she hadn’t been able to work on it—I wasn’t surprised. She suggested that I get a couple letters of recommendation: someone from R Co. and Dan from T-Net. Mr. R had me read his prior to signing it. I nearly cried. I got Dan’s yesterday and was humbled all over again. I take the PO the letters today. Hopefully they’ll help.

So, as I sit at my computer this morning, I’m aware it’s going to be much colder and probably rainy, but I know nothing else much about the day. Surprisingly, I have a sense of peace. I’m learning the art of rolling with it—whatever “it” might be. Relinquishing control is hard…but I’m starting to enjoy the benefits.

May you know greater peace in your today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Best and Worst

It was the best of times…it was the worst of times.
Of days that is.

Today started out rough. I thought I was going to lose 2 workers. Then just as we were getting things organized and started for the day, I was summoned to the far end of the plant where one of my workers was mixing the solution we use to treat our parts. Only he was using floor cleaning soap instead of a preservative. He’d been doing that for nearly a month. The guy who was supposed to show him what to do just told him to go do it and instead of asking more questions he just tried to figure it out on his own. I was mortified. I thought I was going to lose my job. I immediately wrote a corrective action procedure and will follow it up with training. I still get sick at my stomach thinking about it.

Then, if that wasn’t enough tension and stress, the rep from corporate offices, THE packaging specialist, came to spend the day. This was where the day turned surprisingly pleasant. I suggested to Ed that I take her for lunch. We went to the coolest restaurant in town. Cuisine. Fancy presentation. Amazing food. And someone else picked up the tab—doesn’t get much better than that!

But the food wasn’t the only cool part. I had been given the impression that this person was cold and aloof. We hit it off, shared really personal information, laughed and just plain got real. It was a tremendous lunch!

Then we went back to work and she gave me all kind of insight, pointers, and help. She listened to my questions and wrote down my concerns. I felt heard and helped—that was beyond priceless!

At the end of the day I attended a meeting. Again I felt heard and helped. It was valuable.

Then I went back to my office. I had so much to do. I could see at least an hour or two of work staring back at me. I turned off the light and went home. Nelson and I had Chinese. I went and did grocery shopping. We watched “Commander in Chief”—I’m liking it except for the million commercial interruptions. And now I’m going to bed. Tired but smiling. I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow. Maybe it’s because I haven’t stressed about it all evening.

It may have been a rough day, but it was a really good one too!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Ramblings

Such a lovely weekend I’ve had. Where to start?

On Thursday Beth met with the magistrate and was granted an emergency protection order. I’m so very proud of her. She has a court date next Friday. I plan to take off work and go with her and Nelson. To celebrate (or just enjoy a good meal) the three of us went to Red Lobster for dinner. I love their coconut shrimp–Yum!

I was going to be trained on a new machine/part at work so I went to work at 3am on Friday morning. Yawn! The machine was broken down so I did some other things and will learn later since I’ll be going in at 3am Saturday morning and working for 12 hours! That overtime will be a special blessing!

Since I got off early on Friday it feels like I’ve had a long luxurious weekend. I’ve done dishes, laundry and vacuuming, but outside the minimum workload, I’ve sat and soaked in massive quantities of baseball, football (College and Professional), and racing. It has been glorious! I enjoy it personally, but I treasure the fact that Nelson and I watch it together. Very special time indeed!

We ate out way too much this weekend. It’s bad for the cost and the waistline. But I think there was a smidgen of an ulterior motive on my part. Several of the outs got Nelson out as well. So he was up and getting some walking time in on that ankle. It may not have turned out to be a good thing as yesterday afternoon he started having flu-like symptoms.

Friday afternoon I got two new front tires on my car. I suggested we take it to Walmart, but Nel wanted to get tires to match the rear ones so he said to take it to the place where we got those. Unfortunately, they didn’t have matching tires, so again I recommended Walmart. Nel negated the idea sternly. It ended up costing so much more and he was in a money slump for quite a while on Saturday. Sigh. That may have played into my overeating as well.

While the car was being worked on I stopped at Goodwill—my favorite place to shop. And I got a really nice outfit: burgundy/plum pants and a paisley corduroy over shirt. I wore it to church on Sunday. Service was quite uplifting and I felt pretty. It was a good combo! My hair even turned out nice.

An aside: That was one of the points at which I linked with Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies: her struggle with her hair. My struggles and frustrations are at the total other end of the spectrum, categorized by most under: What hair? It’s bone straight, baby fine, and extremely thin. Right now I am wearing it almost exactly the same way I did when I had my senior pictures taken—some 31years ago! It’s not about nostalgia, it’s just that’s really the way it looks best. Beth called it “old lady hair” because it’s so short. Maybe so, it’s just this way there are more good days than bad…sort of like Anne’s cornrows.

I was thinking a lot about perfection this weekend. Odd, since I was in such a relaxed state. I always wanted to be good at something. I didn’t care what so much. One of my blogging favs described herself as “10ft wide and a ½ in deep.” I can relate to that. I’m spread so thin searching for the one thing I might be good at. Trouble is/was I always wanted to be perfect, not just good. And I wanted it instantly. The one thing I was really told I was good at is public speaking—and I haven’t done that for well over a year. Perhaps this time was to be about maturing. Maybe I’ll get that back—hopefully, and how much better it will—I will be!

But today we will work on packing hubs in boxes, pray that the hubster gets better, and watch the daughter develop as a person and a mother. It’s early, but I think it’s going to be a very, very good day.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Five

I've been reading the RevGalPals...and found this there...

The weather in your location: It’s a wonderful Fall afternoon. Temperature is about 65F (18.3333C). The leaves are in various stages of changing colors, which creates an absolutely tremendous palette.

Where you are typing this: I’m sitting in my favorite swivel rocker in the living room, typing on my new laptop. Hub is sleeping in the hospital bed across the room from me.

Where you might like to be sitting if you could be anywhere: At my older daughter’s house with my most precious granddaughter playing nearby!

A chore you have to do this weekend: moving the younger daughter’s packed up stuff to the attic–we had to make room for the influx of baby things–hard to believe she’s not due until January.

Something delightful you will do or would like to do this weekend: I’m going to church Sunday morning (second Sunday in a row!!!!). And I’m watching sports all day long!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

No Matter What

The scripture prompt was:
(Meditation: Jeremiah 17:7-8)Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. The shall be like a tree planted by water sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The written prayer was:
God, if today brings joy, I will rest in You. If today brings pain, I will rest in You. If today brings accomplishment and success, I will rest in You. If today brings set-back and failure, I will rest in You. If today brings vibrant good health, I will rest in You. If today brings sickness and death, I will rest in You. You are my rock and my salvation. Through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

Where it took me:
This reminded me of the "nevertheless" faith of the three Hebrews as they faced being thrown into the fiery furnace. And of Job who asked: shall we take the good and not the bad? No matter what. Come what may. Deeper, deeper though it cost hard trials.

When I was a counselor with kids, I often played the game Chutes and Ladders with them. Even with the older ones. The game teaches very well the concept of both negative and positive consequences. I used it also to talk with them about pushing on in spite of the negative. I needed the message as much as I shared it.

So today, no matter what! I WILL enjoy the people who cross my path. I WILL look for and expect the blessings of God to be present and for God’s presence to walk with me. And it will be a goodly day. Amen.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lavished with Blessings

Blessed. That’s the only way to describe it. That’s totally how I feel, from the wee hairs on my head to the bottom of my toes!

We just got home from worship. And God being God, well I just got my socks blessed right off!

The music was completely uplifting. And it was so absolutely wonderful to sing out. I’ve embarrassed my children on more than one occasion because I am a loud singer when I get to praising. Fortunately, I am also a pretty good singer. I confess this morning, I just got lost in it!

The church has a ramp and an elevator. We used the ramp for Nelson today, but will try the elevator next Sunday. It just takes a lot of energy to hobble all the way from the car to the pew.

We had barely sat down when an older woman—mid to late 70’s walked over to us in the pew. She handed me a piece of cloth, but it was more than it appeared. She said that she had to use a walker a while back due to a broken leg and she started making these. It was/is a carrier thing to attach to Nelson’s walker. It has a large pouch on one side and a divided pouch on the other. It’s even sort of manly, in that it’s sage green and the ties and piping has mallard ducks on it. Another blessing.

We were greeted by several people that we knew and others who were just friendly. The atmosphere was very inviting and I felt comfortable. This was important to me. It’s very easy for me to slip into discomfort and shame mode. That didn’t happen.

Then Pastor brought the message. (Insert a big grin…you know the kind where you realize once again that God really is aware of your need). The text for the message was Mark 2:1-12. Pastor spoke about getting more than you expect, and more specifically on inner healing. I made a few notes, but mostly I listened…and heard….and was blessed.

I remember learning a Bible verse when I was in third grade. That would be nearly 40 years ago. I have treasured it, but no more so than today…with just a tad of adaptation: I was glad when they said unto me, it’s okay to go to the House of the Lord! Today, it was like coming home—which is absolutely one of my favorite biblical images and most powerful song expressions as well.

I can’t say it any clearer: I’m feeling totally, absolutely, and completely blessed.

And now I’m going to drive an hour and a half to have birthday lunch with my 23yr old (when did that happen?) daughter and nearly two year old granddaughter. Life is very, very good!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Joy Is Like the Rain

I was a Girl Scout. I started in 4th grade as a Junior Scout. I always felt like I missed out on something by not being a Brownie, but that was the way life seemed to go for me.

It was in Girl Scouts where I learned about my changing body and what it was going to be like when my “periods” started. It was in Girl Scouts where I learned to bake. It was in Girl Scouts where I was truly encouraged to sew.

I made some of my best friends in Girl Scouts. The leaders were so nurturing and supportive. The woman who I hold up as my model for life and love was a Girl Scout leader. Her name was Daisy.

I was in Girl Scouts until I was a junior in High School. I made First Class. My mom didn’t come to my First Class Ceremony because she had laundry to do. I believe that was the best demonstration of where I ranked as a child and quite possibly my greatest disappointment in life. (Mom and I have talked at length about how she regrets in those years that she made being a “wife” so much higher a priority than being “mom.” Understanding and forgiveness don’t always remove the sting—they just help us love in spite of it.)

This week I’ve had a song on my brain that I learned my very first year in Scouts. This would have been in 1966—and I still remember the tune and many of the words (though I was mixing the verses around). I went and googled the title and there it was. Here it is:Joy Is Like The Rain D Em A7 DI saw raindrops on my windowG Em A7 DJoy is like the rain.G DLaughter runs across my painA A7 D A7-BmSlips away and comes again.Em Em7 A7 DJoy is like the rain. I saw clouds upon a mountainJoy is like a cloud;Sometimes silver, sometimes gray,Alsways sun not far away.Joy is like a cloud. I saw Christ in wind and thunder,Joy is tried by storm.Christ asleep within my boat,whipped by wind, yet still afloat.Joy is tried by storm. I saw raindrops on my windowJoy is like the rain.Bit by bit the river grows,Till at once it overflows.Joy is like the rain. - From the album "Medical Missionary Sisters"released in the 1960's

As I’m sitting here writing there is a gentle rain falling outside. It seemed so appropriate!

Reading through the words got me to thinking about how it probably wouldn’t be a song that would be sung in Scouting now. It’s not very PC. And yet, for me it was so correct—then and now.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the when I turned myself in. Joy has been tried by storm….yet still afloat. Today is also the 28th anniversary of my first date with Nelson.

I was thinking about our 28 years together. It has had it share of rain. There have been storms. Sometimes the clouds are very, very thick. Sometimes I long for the simple laughter. Other days I couldn’t be more content.

The morning of our wedding (just 18mo after that first date) two guys called to try and talk me out of marrying Nelson. I had doubts and reservations. I was very unsure of this huge commitment I was making. I had no clue what life would hold. It was as if some unseen force was moving me through the whole process. I felt powerless to change the course of events as they were unfolding, and unsure if I really wanted to. One thing that I knew somewhere at the core of my being—it wasn’t a conscious thing, I don’t believe—was that I could count on Nelson no matter what.

And I was right.

Now, I confess, this has been a hard week. I think that I have been grieving my lost identity and career more than I have over the past 4 years. I have felt come out this week in an unsettled discontent. Honestly, it’s made it hard to empty Nelson’s pee bottle, hard to do all the dishes, laundry, and general cleaning.

Sometimes life is just like that. Laughter slips across my pain, slips away and comes again. It has…and it will!

So today I will cozy up. Spend some time remembering the years with my sweetie. And be thankful—for it all!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I finished “Traveling Mercies” last night. That was a good book. It felt sort of like I was reading someone’s blog or diary. It made me want to read more. It made me want to write more. It made me think.

So I went to the little book shelf in my room (where my devotionals and writing books are) and pulled my “The Playful Way to Serious Writing” book (by Roberta Allen) off the shelf and thumbed through its pages. This hasn’t been one of my favorite books, because its push has been toward more fictionalized writing (or that’s my perception).

It was sort of surprising when I landed on the following page: Think of five times in your life when you let fear stop you.

(Background to why this was so interesting to me. A couple days ago, Rev Mommy wrote about what are we afraid to talk about and that started a whole lot of thinking on my part about fear in general. Then tonight at a women’s Bible Study I attended [but probably won’t go back to] one of the questions the leader asked us was whether we were more motivated by love or fear? Then this page. I’m “afraid” that I’m supposed to be addressing my fears.)

…but back to the prompt…

1. (These are in no particular order of time sequence.) The first fear that jumped to my mind was when I was afraid to ask Nelson for the money to get my birth control prescription. Annie was only a few months old and it was time to start thinking about getting back on birth control. Money was so very tight right then. Asking for money has always been an issue for me. I reasoned in my head that it had taken so many years to get pregnant with Annie, surely I could miss a month and not worry. Surely, not. Annie was only 6mo old when I found out I was pregnant with Beth. One of the best mistakes I ever made.

2. I’m a good speaker and a good preacher. I participated in a preaching “contest” the last year of my M.Div program in Kansas City. My fear and lack of confidence caused me to doubt my ability and hold back—after all, why give 100% when it wouldn’t make a difference. Several people commented on how apparent it was that I shut down when I could have shone.

3. Fear of failure is a consistent—or was a consistent theme in my life before October 2001. The only way I knew not to fail was to just keep moving forward, take on more, and prove to everyone I was able to do it all. I lost all semblances of healthy boundaries. I really thought I could be all to everyone. My life was falling apart from the inside out and I was very close to committing suicide because I didn’t know how to stop the insanity. On October 8, 2001 I finally became so afraid of dying that I put an end (stopped) life as I knew and let the pieces fall. It turned out to be the hardest and best thing I ever did.

4. A friend of mine helped me get a job writing. She worked as an editor at a publishing company that was associated with educational materials. I contracted to write a teacher’s manual for a catechism course. I was really excited. I did a lot of research and work around the project, but fear of criticism, rejection, and the editor’s red pen kept from writing the necessary material. They released me from my contract.

5. One of the other questions the leader asked the group tonight (it was just an ice-breaker type game thing) was whether we were rebellious teens? I was quick to answer no. And the reason: fear. I absolutely totally feared disappointing my father. I never knew what it was like to truly sense his approval, so I’m not sure what I was actually working for, but I really, truly didn’t want to disappoint him. That probably wasn’t going to ever be possible since my very presence at birth initiated an endless string of disappointments: I was born a girl.

Now, let me rush in here to say: I’ve really worked hard on this issue. And I’m not nearly as fear-full as I used to be. I’m just very clear that this will be a life issue for me and I work on it day, by day, by day.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

This Week

Today the company we have our contract with came in for a meeting. I knew we were going to get dinged about how we weren’t keeping up with our five day turn around. So I went to the meeting with stats and data to make my point—heck, to make several points about what I needed to be able to do my job better. It showed some forethought. I made my point.

The real packaging specialist from the contract company came back with me to our area and gave me some one on one time—we discussed a lot of things. I was able to persuade her on one boxing issue. It was a huge improvement for us. I really, really appreciated her comments. I learned so much. It felt awesome.

At the end of the day, I was talking to Ed and B when Mr. R walked up. I thought he wanted to talk to them so I turned to go, but he told me to wait. When he was done talking to them he walked me to my office. He said he had heard that I had a college teaching position last year that was lost. I had only told Ed this. Mr. R reiterated his appreciation of my hard work. Then he told me that if I hang in there for a year, he would do whatever it takes to get me a teaching job at our local university or seminary where he’s on the board of trustees. I know that’s not always a given (after all, my therapist was on the board of the other university where I lost the other jobs). Even if nothing comes of it, I was just so absolutely touched that Mr. R would consider going to bat for me like that.

On the way home from work I remembered that I needed to stop and see my PO. Those who have been with me since last Fall may remember that one of the first things that my PO told me was that she would NEVER recommend an early release from probation for me. During our meeting we talked about her kids and my employees that are on probation/parole. Then she asked how long I had left. I reminded her that I was on paper until February 2007. I mentioned that I had thought about applying for an early release, but had heard that it cost a lot of money that I didn’t have. She said it should be no more than $100 or court costs. I asked how to go about it: should I contact the judge? She then said, "No. It just takes a recommendation from me. I’ll contact my supervisor and get things started." You could have knocked me off my chair with a feather. I was so excited I was ready to whoop!

Then when I got home my "new" laptop was here–finally. The screen is huge: I love that!!! The key action is nice too. The last two laptops that I’ve had were Gateways. This one is a Compaq Presario. Could the day get any better?

That’s a dangerous feeling for me...As soon as I realize that I’m feeling that feeling I start to get worried and start looking for the other shoe to drop. It’s not that I’m superstitious, I just don’t ever expect things to go well for very long.

When I turned it on there was a fine line down the right of the screen about two inches in. I was disappointed. Nelson asked how it was that EVERY time I turned on a computer I wrecked it? His words were like a sledge hammer upside my head. Now, I know that he doesn’t mean to be hurtful. I also know that he has no clue how his words affect me. I am also aware of how bored and testy he is from his forced confinement. I tried so hard not to take it on, but I failed miserably. When I went to bed I was sad, hurt, and sure that I wasn’t going to sleep.

Nelson acted as if nothing had been said. In his mind there was no problem. It would do me no good to bring the incident up–it would be like rubbing a dog’s nose in three day old pee: totally ineffective. I tried to make him see how hurt I was, but I was too emotional. I hate that about myself.

I received another affirmation at work that my work was appreciated. It was a real pat on the back.

D’s last day in our area. A couple weeks ago B took a goofy picture of D (she held a box lid over her face to avoid being photographed). For some reason she really liked the pic and wanted me to laminate it so it would be protected and preserved. Instead I bought a frame and had everyone sign it. I also bought a card and made a cake.

There was a real mixed feeling about D leaving. For me it’s hard. She’s been a friend and such an awesome worker. I am so ecstatic that she’s been hired on by the company, but I also felt terribly alone. I’m sure it’ll be ok, it’ll just take some time to adjust.

And now it’s Saturday. We followed up with the pastor twice to see if he called my PO, but haven’t heard back so it looks like church will have to wait another weekend. It would probably be ok, but trust me: I’m not taking any chances or doing anything that I’m not allowed. I may try and call my PO later to see...maybe.

Reflections on it all:
While I was talking with Mr. R, something was said that seemed to tie everything together here. Mr. R said something about how things work together. As soon as he said that I began to examine the cord linking life for me.

One of the things that occurred to me was the amazing way God uses events to get us where he wants us to be. Twenty six years ago, Nelson and I really felt like we should move to Ashland. We didn't understand why, so therefore after a very superficial examination of the situation we decided it probably wasn't the right move to make. And life went on the way it did. But here we are all these later in Ashland.

And I truly believe that God isn't done with me yet...and so now instead fearing the falling shoe, I feel a little more like an eager child just wondering what's coming around the corner--and like the child: trusting that it's going to be...gotta be good---because after all: it's coming from God who only has my best in mind.