Saturday, December 31, 2005

Getting Ready for the New

Nelson is napping.
Beth is getting herself around.
I’m sitting here at the computer, listening to the Top 20 Meltdown of Christian Songs from 2005.

I just browsed through my entries from this year. What a year it’s been. I started out with a trip to Mom’s in January. January should always include a trip to Arizona. It’s just the right thing to do. February included a visit to Annie’s and wonderful time with Penelope. March chronicled the start of my new position at R Company. April held late snows and my birthday. May was Nelson’s birthday and the start of the house construction—finally! June was when Nelson broke his ankle and so July was a time for surgeries and recovery. August held my own falling and wounding of my foot. September we began the pregnancy journey with Beth. October we started attending church again. Sweet Caden was born in November. December I shared some of my story at church and had a reflection piece published on the church website.

It was definitely a years of highs and lows, but one thing seemed to weave throughout the entries and thoughts and that was the grace of God expressed in multiple blessings and right on time mercies. Disappointments and discouragements flared, but were quickly replaced by peace and sometimes even joys.

I don’t know everything that 2006 will hold. I do know that we will have another new baby. Soon hopefully. I know that Nelson will have to figure out how to walk all over again and may have to face changing the way he does “work.” I know that I am going to start attending a meeting geared at helping aspiring writers. Nelson and I are going to hit the intentionally healthy eating plan again (notice what word I am NOT using to describe this) with the hope of losing some weight.

I’m going to write something every day. This means I am going to be reading more and observing more. I’m going to face the coming days with my eyes open to see, explore, and reflect. Having the Traveldrive will help in this commitment.

And I’m going to ride my bike this year. I don’t know how much. I’d love to get to the place where I was riding to work…we’ll have to see about that. I just know that I loved riding bike and I miss it.

Well, that’s all for now. I have some things to do around the house. I already did laundry, made breakfast, and vacuumed downstairs this morning. We’re going to drive down to where we used to live and spend the evening with some very dear friends of ours. We used to spend every New Year’s Eve with them. It will be sweet to be with them again. Besides Karen and I always whoop the boys at cards and I could use a dose of winning right about now.

Be safe and smart tonight and may the new year become for you a year of discoveries, mysteries, and beauty!

Friday, December 30, 2005


Wherever I go.
Whatever I write.
Wait that’s not how the song goes…but it is how my writing is going. I can take my thoughts and creativity wherever there’s a computer. Another excuse removed by my amazing little Traveldrive that I got for Christmas. I’m pretty excited about this.

I wrote some things here at work. Then I wrote some more at home. I made corrections and deletions and now I’m back at work typing in the same files I was typing at while I was home. This technology is so cool.

Wednesday after work Beth and I were supposed to go to M-town to pick up her bed and then go get a mattress set. Well, the guy with the mattresses needed to cancel. Beth was disappointed. She still went to get the bed. While she did that Nelson and I went for pizza at Pizza Hut’s buffet. He showed off a bit, walking in the parking lot without his crutch. He only took about 20 steps and was warn out and had to go back to the crutch. After dinner Beth was back with the bed so I manhandled the monstrosity and got it up to her bedroom.

Thursday after work Beth and I planned to go to get the mattress set. When we got to the place we were disappointed beyond belief. The set that we were told about on the phone was trash—but they would sell us this better version for only $350. That was more than we wanted to spend and I was so irritated that we just left. We went over to Big Lots. They had a set that was still more than we wanted to spend, but Beth liked it so we called Nelson to make sure we had enough on the card. I went back in and wrote a Capital One check against the balance on the card. The clerk had to call for approval and the check approving company denied the check. So we came home empty handed again. I was so bummed. Beth is so uncomfortable sleeping on the futon and it’s becoming more and more difficult for her to get out of bed.

Nelson had his last therapy session Wednesday evening. He needs more. He’s at the doctor right now.

I wrote my therapist a letter. I haven’t seen her since March. It was a good way to think back over the year and examine some of the ways I’ve grown, held ground, and used the things I learned about myself through the course of therapy. It was a good exercise and a good letter.

That said, I must confess that I have nearly fretted about something to the point that I have made myself physically ill. I’m beginning to think maybe I’m not cut out for this job. Ed came to me right before lunch and told me he was shutting down the production line right after they finished the next order. It won’t start up again until Tuesday. That means there won’t be enough work for the team. I need to tell them that they won’t need to come in until next Wednesday. My head assures me that I did everything I could. I know that fiscally it’s the responsible thing—but they just were off two weeks because there wasn’t any work and now at least two more days off next week (we’re closed on Monday).

This level of disappointment has to be the manifestation of all the disappointments of this week—including anticipating bad news from Nelson’s doctor visit. All my perkiness is buried under a thick scratchy wool blanket—like the one I had in jail: very little warmth and no comfort whatsoever.

I just got off the phone with Nelson. He got frustrated with me and hung up. The doctor has told him to stop wearing the walking boot, gave him some smaller ankle support and told him to wear a shoe. I am beginning to think that his man may work well with bones but he is not a healing specialist. A surgeon, yes—but he is so blatantly clueless. Well, he did one thing. He moved me out of disappointment to full blown anger.

He’s still concerned with the swelling, but his solution was to write some note to the therapist that he needs to squeeze the fluid out. Having worn a compression hose for 6 weeks after three months of ace wraps didn’t “squeeze” the fluid out. But what do I know?

The only good I can see that is coming out of this is that he wrote a script for 6 more weeks of therapy, Nelson doesn’t have to go back to work before his next appointment (Feb. 2), and supposedly he’s healing nicely.

And now I have to push away from my desk, go back out on the floor and make boxes and act like nothing is wrong. I don’t think I’m that good an actress. I’ll let you know how I did.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

News from Our Corner

I got another present yesterday. It didn’t come from friends or family. It was a gift from work. Since I started working in the factory I have had to wear my vision correcting glasses and then put a pair of safety glasses over them. This was awkward at times and downright painful at others. Two sets of ear pieces digging into the sides of my head. Two pairs of glasses steaming up on hot sweaty summer days.

When I got my new prescription glasses I turned in the paperwork for a pair of prescription safety glasses. My employer provides these. All it cost me was the visit to the optometrist which I was doing anyway.

So yesterday, at the end of the work day, Joy from the front office paged me to let me know that they were in. I was—am so excited. Granted they’re not as attractive as my other glasses, or as lightweight. They have side shields on them and a lined bifocal instead of nifty progressives. But I so don’t care! I don’t have to wear TWO pairs of glasses. And I don’t have to wear my cool prescription glasses—so they won’t get any scratches or other damage as they sit protected in their little snap case during the work day.

It’s going to rain today. I didn’t wash my car to make it rain. I didn’t kill a spider (old wives tale/superstition of my mother) to make it rain. No, what I did was make plans with the daughter to go pick up her new bed and mattress set after work today. I knew it was going to rain because I am becoming a weather vane. My aching toe (from the injury this summer) and draining (more like a deluge) sinuses informed before I ever got out of bed this morning that a rainy day was in store. Lovely.

Getting this bed is important, but it also looks like we should be hurrying to get a crib. Poor Beth has been swelling something awful. At the end of a work day for her, her little toes look like little sausages they’re so swollen. Yesterday at her now weekly check ups the doctor did another ultrasound and has decided that the baby weighs about 6 and a ½ pounds. Things generally pointed to her being in her 35th week, until he measured her belly and it read out at 41 weeks. He also told her she is losing amniotic fluid. Beth has been saying for days that the little guy is wanting to sleep in a crib. We thought it might be wishful thinking, but it looks like he’ll be here much sooner than originally expected. And I for one will not be disappointed!

And one last thing…I thought I had a hot flash last night. Nope. Yesterday the guys the landlord hired to put in the new furnace worked their magic and we have heat. And let me tell you: it works well. I think we can safely turn it down a couple notches…at least at night!

Have a truly wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Goodies

Well, here it is two days after Christmas. As days with family go, Christmas came with its inherent stressors. Too many schedule changes to suit Nelson. He’s really lost his ability to go with the flow—it must go with loss of range of motion like with his ankle. But in the end, it was nice. My sis and her two boys joined Nelson, Beth, Annie, Travis, Penelope, Caden and me for the day. There was way too much good stuff to eat and grazing was the opted manner for eating.

Beth bought Nelson a football game for the Game Cube and that was a hit with my nephews and Travis. They ended up taking up to our room and hooking it up to my TV so the rest of us could watch football on TV…now that made a lot of sense? In the end I was thankful to have all that young energy off in another space…I sound so old.

Santa was very good to me. I got a jump drive so I can take my writing with me wherever I go. Beth bought me Scent Stories and a pay as you go cell phone. I love them both! Annie got me a basket full of yummy smelly things and the movie “Must Love Dogs”—my favorite kind of movie: Romantic Comedy. Nelson also got me a new coat. It’s a denim barn coat that has the Pooh characters on the back and also the front pocket. I absolutely love it!!!

The surprise gift of the day was also from Nelson. Since he couldn’t get out he did almost all the Christmas shopping from his bed in the living room—gotta love eBay! Well, something he ordered for me hadn’t come. But Sunday morning, Christmas morning, there was a knock at the door. It was a postal carrier driving a US Postal truck wearing a Santa hat. He was out delivering presents/packages on Christmas morning and he brought me my new Pooh umbrella. It’s so cool and I was so tickled to get it that way on Christmas!

Annie, Travis and the kids stayed over Sunday night and Monday we watched a couple movies. Annie, Travis, and Nelson watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith while I watched Mulan with Penelope. Later we watched Must Love Dogs—Nelson napped through that one. It was a quiet lazy sort of day—my favorite kind! For lunch we went to Applebees so that Beth could show off her niece and nephew.

Today it’s back to work. That alarm went off so dreadfully early, but that’s probably because I went to bed so late. I have a crew and we’re working away---in fact I need to get out there and make sure they’re on task.

May the Spirit of Christmas: love, giving, family, peace and joy continue to invade and bless your days.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Spirit

I’m not a Scrooge, I promise. And I know that in my circle of journal friends there are some (one in particular) that truly love the snow. But Friday after work and then again yesterday I felt my mood improve as the snow disappeared under the warmth of a December thaw. In fact yesterday it was so nice out that I just wore a jacket while I went out to finish shopping.

I was going to clean house and wrap presents, but instead I shopped, decorated the tree and watched football. The way things went was much more fun!

In the morning I went to the upscale grocery (that we had gotten a very generous gift card to) to buy fixings for dinner tonight. Ann, Travis, Penelope and Caden are coming today; as are my sis and her two boys. So with Nelson, Beth, and I we’ll have a small army to feed. We were given a spiral cut ham from work so we decided to have ham sandwiches and a bunch of yummy things to go with.

After lunch, I went back out again because I had forgotten a few things—big surprise there. While I was out I also stopped at Goodwill and found a pair of Carhartt bib overalls—for $5! I was pretty excited about that since they’re normally $50. These are practically new. They’re a bit baggy on me so that should make them way comfortable. I also got my haircut while I was out and stopped at Walmart one last time to buy a gift for a friend at work.

When I came home I started watching football with Nelson. He made a comment that I should probably take down the tree or get ready to face the ribbing of family since it was still undecorated. So descended once again into the bowels of this old house to retrieve decorations for the tree. I now am quite pleased with my “theme” tree.

I have no where to hang stockings here so the tree became a stocking tree. There are two strands of colorful lights, some garland and one ornament representing Nelson, Beth, and me—and the rest are stockings. Over the archway between our living and dining rooms I hung other ornaments, and the final decoration I put up was a sleigh bell wreath on the front door.

There are so many wrapped presents that there is barely room for people in the living room right now. It feels quite festive and really makes me smile. I just have a few more things to wrap for Nelson and then we’ll be ready!

Last night was also very special as Nelson, Beth, and I attended the early Christmas Eve service together at church. We opened the service by singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. That felt really good! I went back for the 10 o’clock service to again sing with the choir. Standing in the glow of candlelight singing Silent Night is such a special moment. For a brief spanse of time there truly feels like peace. It’s as if God throws that cashmere blanket over us and shares the depth of his love for us and His deep desire to bring us peace—individual as well as worldwide. Maybe someday we’ll trust Him enough to receive those gifts for more than just the moment.

Well, there are presents to wrap, dishes to finish up, and a yummy Christmas morning breakfast to make…so I better scoot. Merriest of merry Christmases. Make sure you hug someone…and smile!!! Look for the blessings and tell me what you find.

Warm hugs and Hershey kisses for you all!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Just a Note

I wore a Christmas Tree on my head yesterday.
I wonder if people had a hard time taking me seriously? So what else is new?

The shipping clerk made me some yummy smelling candles a while back—they smell so good and make my office in the factory an oasis for me! Then she followed it up with some equally delectable potpourri. Yum! In the bag with the potpourri was a red headband that had a Christmas Tree attached to it. I had been wanting to wear it, but didn’t want to look goofy alone. She wore hers for a while yesterday (until the band started cutting off blood flow to the brain—gotta love old fashioned plastic headbands). I wore mine for the rest of the afternoon. I’m going to wear it all day today.

Yesterday I wore something else new! My glasses came in. I went last Tuesday for the exam and they came in Wednesday. They are so cool. I love the frameless look. And light! Wow, it’s like not wearing anything…on my face! And clear!!!! No scratches. I can’t wait for my safety glasses to come in so I don’t damage these.

I had workers yesterday. That was really nice. I was able to ease up a little on the physical labor and work my brain. Good thing it doesn’t go to sleep like my hand does…don’t ask my family about that one though…

Last evening I went shopping for a bed with Beth. We found the headboard and frame she likes, but are still working on the mattress set. Those things are so expensive. We looked at cribs. She knows what she wants but we just can’t seem to find it. That seems to happen a lot for her. We still have a month so we’ll keep on looking.

Today we have a carry in lunch at work. They bring a grill in and cook dogs and burgers. The place smells so yummy. Well, I need to go ice the brownies I made so I’m gone.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Twice Baked

Where to start…so many little things have been happening.
Saturday I baked. That in itself should draw a gasp from the crowd. The kitchen is not my environment. No one will mistake me for Betty Crocker. My cooking escapades are the fodder for many a joke with my family. So when I signed up to bring snack for Sunday School on the eighteenth, Nelson’s expression spoke volumes.

I decided that I wanted to make mini-muffins. How hard could that be? Or better, how hard could I make that, or them. I even found muffin mix that only required adding water. I was actually beginning to think that this could work. Along with the mixes I bought the cutest non-stick muffin pan (I had to go back to the store and buy the little papers).

I would like to report that the mini-muffins were a big hit. After Sunday School I was trying to pack up and I had to walk away from the table to let folks continue their talking and nibbling. I heard one person comment that they were one of the best snacks ever. Shoot, I was just hoping for edible!

Sunday night was the Christmas Musical Program at church. The plan was to have a dessert intermission. I signed up to bring something. Nelson put in a request this time for Tingalings. Another easy fix for me: melt the butterscotch chips (in a large pan) and stir in chow mein noodles, spoon on to a tray, and let sit (try not to eat them all before they sit). They were gobbled up!

The program was called Christmas Memories. Right in the middle the script called for a testimony of a Christmas that was difficult or sad, but in the reflection was good. The director had someone lined up and they cancelled out so I offered. I had several options of different Christmas memories, but really felt a thumb in my back to tell of my experience in 2001, the Christmas that followed my turning myself in and preceded my time in jail.

When I decided that this was the way to go, I spoke to the pastor to get his input and sort of to warn him. He was very supportive. Sunday morning I began to see why. His message had strong words about reconciliation and restoration. The way I planned to present my story followed well with what he preached.

I was nervous about sharing so I wrote out what I was going to say. I’m very glad that I did. Even with practicing on Nelson, I choked up as I read the words. But I made it through and moved quickly back to my seat in the choir.

There was one more song and then the break for desserts. I was quite surprised by the number of people that came up to me, before I could move from my chair, and gave me hugs while they told me how much they were moved by what I shared. The hugs were so genuine and life/love giving. My harshest critic (next to myself) even gave me words of praise. That would be Nelson…

At the close of the service Pastor G was wrapping things up and was able to tie his message and mine together and truly invite the people into receiving the gift of reconciliation and restoration that is being offered at Christmas…and always. In my heart, I knew the message was for someone…I just wondered who.

So all things considered it was a very blessed weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fear Not

(A reflection on the messages of Christmas)

The phone rang. Bad timing. I was getting ready, last minute rush of course, to head out the door for a weekend retreat. I looked quickly at the caller ID—Indianapolis: the younger daughter. A smile returned to my face as I grabbed the receiver.

Quick hellos, hers a bit stiff. That mother instinct bristled. “Mom, the first thing I want to say is that I’m all right.”

No conversation should start this way. The words that followed nearly buckled my knees. “I was hit by a car.”

I responded with, “Is the car okay?” Thinking that she meant she was in an accident and rear-ended or something. No, she was crossing the road from her dorm to the main part of campus, in a clearly marked crosswalk with a group of students, when a car decided to run the red light and plow right into her. Stunned, she got up and walked on to the other side of the road. The lady pulled into a nearby lot and checked on Beth.

Friends took her to the emergency room. Nothing was broken, but she was severely bruised and battered. Forget the retreat, I was ready to run to Indianapolis (about a three hour drive) if I had to just to be near my baby (who was twenty and way too independent for my liking).

“I’m okay. They gave me some pain meds.” There was some promise that she would call her father later. And she was off the phone. Reluctantly, I went on to the retreat.

There are just ways that conversations shouldn’t be started. I was reminded of this as I was reading my Advent devotional this week. “Fear not” should probably be at the top of the “don’t use” list.

Imagine being blinded by an incredible light while sitting out in the field at night keeping your eye on the sheep. Imagine being a young teen, engaged, hopeful of a normal life, and getting the news that Mary received. Imagine being Joseph. An angel, or a huge army of them, comes to you and says, “Look, don’t be afraid, but…”

For that matter imagine the “Fear nots” that come our way: Fear not, it’s cancer. Fear not, she’s had an affair. Fear not, it’s a pink slip. Fear not, it’s the transmission. Fear not.

Those are tough pills to swallow and our inclination, or least mine, is to go with Mary: how can this be? My downfall is generally in the moment I focus on the struggle, the challenge, and fail to see that if God is willing to send an angel, or an army of angels, then I can trust He’s got things covered. I just need, like Mary, to accept, ponder, and then move ahead in strength and confidence.

His “fear nots” are really promises. From the very outset of whatever it is that we are facing, He presence is His bond to be with us all the way. And that’s the good stuff to hold on to!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Naked Truth

I had a really disheartening revelation this morning. I had taken our full-length mirror and set it up higher to get a different angle on an outfit I was trying to decide whether to wear or not. It was a definite not.

I left the mirror up, no particular reason. This morning I caught a full view of my girth this morning and it wasn’t a pleasant discovery—not in the least. And a little light came on in my head—fortunately no more light was turned on in the bedroom.

It was a brief window into the Genesis experience of Adam and Eve realizing they were naked and realizing they were naked. They didn’t know that, they weren’t dissatisfied with the way they were until they listened to the deceiver and then there was a ruch to cover up.

Now here’s where I may be stepping a bit out on a limb, but it’s my revelation so I’m allowed. It seems to me that the “cover up” was denial and a major effort to keep from really seeing what was going on. At least that’s the truth for me.

I had been feeling pretty good that I had gone down a pants size this year. While that is a good thing, I let it become a camouflage to the real problem. There in my mirror this morning I couldn’t hide from the rolls and dimples of fat. I quickly put on my clothes for work and that’s when it hit me. I had become pretty good at blousing my shirt out over my pants to hide some those rolls. Long skirts and pants covered my dimply knees and no one was going to ever catch a glimpse of those thighs.

I hated what I saw. But grace made me peal away a few layers to get at some real loathsome stuff. What else was I getting good at covering up? What attitudes needed liposuctioned off my person? What grievous choices was I trying to sugar coat by giving them more politically acceptable labels? It was much easier to put on my work clothes and cover up my rolls than to escape the truth I was now seeing in my soul. I couldn’t yank a shirt on quick to get away from this.

I had another clothing thought/memory last night, also. This past summer I was delighted to find a plus size very lightweight flannel night gown. It’s about mid-calf in length, red plaid. Whoever had it prior to me had cut the sleeves off so that they are about ¾ length. I pulled it out and matched it up with a lightweight pair of thermal pajama pants. Yes, winter has arrived in my corner of Ohio and we turn the heat down a bit at night, so it’s time to pile on the pj’s and quilts.

Anyway, I was reminded of a much loved nightgown I had right before I got married. My mom had made it for me when I was in college. I have a few special memories of the things my mom sewed for me. Sewing was quite a chore for her, something it seemed she felt she HAD to do not something she wanted to do. This nightgown was a lime green color and I had her make it extra long so that I could wrap it up under my feet while watching TV or studying. I wore it to death. I can’t even count the number of times it had to be re-sewn under the arms and at spots around the yoke. Spots had been worn nearly throw that defied patches and yet I refused to part with it.

As I was preparing for my wedding both my parents sternly talked with me about how that nightgown needed to be trashed and shouldn’t be taken into the marriage. I knew they were right, but was too sentimental to follow through.

I did end up buying a really fancy nightie and robe set that was very pink and feminine. I planned to take it on our honeymoon. My friends loaded “my clothes” (in truth, they loaded an entire closet of about three different people’s clothes into the car because they didn’t know which were mine) into the car for us to take on our honeymoon. They were trying to be so helpful. But in the process of loading us down with strange clothing the fancy night-set fell off the hanger. Fortunately, I had tucked the ratty green flannel gown into my suitcase. I’m not sure why I did, but I’m sure glad. As it turns out, Nelson got a horrible case of the flu and slept in the other bed in the room.

Now there’s no startling revelation to go with that memory. Just a smile and reminder of my humanity and need for comfortable/cozy. If anything, it’s a thought for me to ponder about my need to hold on to things and stay where it’s comfortable.

Well, I have much to think about and a little work to do too, so I better scoot.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Friends and Hope

25 Thousand
600 Minutes

I went and saw RENT today with Annie. Wow! Now I know it’s not a movie for everyone. But I really enjoyed the movie. I was moved by it. The characters with their passion, creativity, and most of all love, made me think, laugh, cry, and thank.

And for now that’s all I want to say on that.

Last evening I went to a Ladies Advent Candlelight Tea at church. It was nice, but it wasn’t what I expected—what I hoped for…longed for it to be. I like the fact that this church has activities. There is always something to do. Once upon time that would have been enough. The busyness would have satisfied my need to take on anything and everything and appear to be juggling the world. “How does she do it all?”

I like that there’s something to do, but I’m not doing for doing sake. I’m going hoping to connect, to find a friend, maybe even more than one. I was thinking back over my “church history” and the memories of the different friendships at different churches brought a smile to my heart.

I remember Rita. We were young moms, new to Toledo. We met at the women’s outing when we toured a glass factory. She hooked her arm through mine and announced that we would be friends. We still are though separated by distance.

There was Florene, Rita, Jean, Connie, Elaine, Chris, Laurie, Marsha, Connie, Irene, Joyce, Carol, and Now…no one. Not yet. I’m still very, very hopeful.

I have to be. Here’s why: I am totally and absolutely convinced that we are exactly attending the church where God wants us to be. I was absolutely overwhelmed by this awareness as I sat in Sunday School this morning. We started a new quarter, and had a new teacher. As the new teacher stood to teach, I started to cry. In some distant muffled awareness, I knew the teacher was speaking about the transforming love of God. In that moment I was totally immersed in the experience of God providing grace and love.

When we moved here in August 2005 the plan was to attend the Nazarene church in a nearby town. The first block to that we experienced came from my PO. Then we observed seriously disturbing behavior with the Pastor of the church. We were terribly confused and hurt when that door closed.

But another door opened and we joined up with a little worship group. There were ups and downs with them, but the support and love we felt was balm to our hearts and we were able to use our gifts, received many blessings, and were there when they closed that group down.

The summer months were a sort of dessert experience. We tried to watch church on TV, but it I was left with an empty feeling. Then at the beginning of June we were given the okay to “go” to church. At the end of June Nelson fell and we weren’t “going” anywhere.

With mobility came resolve to try the nearby Brethren Church. We were received so warmly. After a few weeks we decided to go to Sunday School. I had a few reservations, but they were easily laid to rest. Yesterday morning sealed the deal.

I was sitting there flooded with overwhelming thankfulness. There in that classroom were my two most favoritest seminary professors—and one of them was going to teach the class this quarter. But that wasn’t all. My supervisor was there—what a tenderhearted godly man! And the owner of my company is a part of that class too. And when he prays—wow!

I sat there just getting my socks blessed off as Dr. M (too much respect to cozy up and call him by his first name) taught the class. He’s so dynamic and entertaining and then he gets you with the point. I loved it. On the way home I asked Nelson how he liked it? He said it was too short. Exactly!

In the afternoon there was a shower for Beth. Several of her work friends came. My in-laws drove down from Toledo. Annie did the games. Penelope entertained us. It was fun. Beth got some lovely things.

And now it’s Monday morning. I’m a little nervous about going to work. Friday afternoon several people at the plant got laid off. We only have about 35 workers. About 8 were to get laid off. I wasn’t one of them, though I was lower on the seniority pole. Since I’m am trained for my area I made it through the first cut. That’s not going to make some people very happy. If we don’t get work this week, I may be next.

On my way to work this morning the thought occurred to me that trusting in God doesn’t necessarily mean that the queasy stomache associated with “stepping in the water” doesn’t automatically go away. And I’m really okay with that, because it reminds me to keep trusting.

He’s provided so much—I’ve no cause to doubt that He WILL carry me through.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

All Day Training

All day training.
There was a time when I loved going to training. I always considered myself a learner. I thrived on opportunities to learn something new. I was like a sponge.

I was thinking about it today, and I spent a huge portion of my life doing what came naturally, so learning wasn’t that difficult. I picked things to train in that I had a natural bent towards. The result was that I tended to take the role of the really talented “student.” My star shined a little brighter and I received positive strokes and feedback—and it felt good!

Today was the first all day training I’ve been to for over four years. At the end of the day my head felt like an over-blown balloon: stretched tight and ready to explode. This was nothing I was used to or very good at. Mostly it was related to accounting and math related stuff. Way, way out of my comfort zone. But I felt I needed to wrap my brain around as much as I could. The more training, the more training in different fields, the more I know, the more valuable I become—as an employee.

Now, catch that. I almost missed it. There was a time when being more valuable as an employee meant (in my brain) that I was more valuable as a person. Not today. Greater knowledge equals greater job security but not worth as a person.

I wish I could tell you how absolutely wonderful that feels. It took all the pressure off of learning today. Sure my brain was stretched, but I wasn’t looking for brownie points I wanted to understand a difficult process. I don’t have it all nailed down, but that’s OK! And that is amazingly freeing.

Then tonight, I joined the choir at church. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE singing? There was an announcement and invitation in the bulletin for individuals who wanted to sing in the Christmas musical to come and practice with the choir.

I went. It felt so good to sing. Joining voices with others, reading music, singing really high notes and having them come out right—well, even just having them come out! It was glorious.

And when it was all done, my head didn’t hardly hurt at all. Now my muscles from exercising last night—well that’s another story.


It wasn't until my very last pastorate that I finally began to understand the meaning and purpose of Advent. I took it very seriously, which really frustrated many of the "let's just sing hymns, hang greens, and get it all over with" kind of folks in the congregation. In the fall of 2001, though, I began to really experience the meaning of waiting and anticipating.

October 8 I called the authorities and began the process of turning myself in. It wasn't until November 4 that I met with the detectives to make my official statement. They told me that I wouldn't have a court hearing until after Christmas. Grace was at work, even in the legal system.

At times I wasn't sure how I made it through the days. I felt so broken. So shame-filled. Alone, but surrounded. And all the time, waiting. I had absolutely no control in this process, or so it seemed.

Right in the middle of this overwhelming chaos, I woke up to the realization that Christmas was coming. The words describing Mary's response to the goings on around her struck a chord in my weary heart. She wasn't in control either. But instead of fretting she pondered and held the truths that she uncovered close to her heart.

So I began to look, to watch, and to ponder. Almost immediately I began to notice how God was providing so many things for me. A marvelous therapist who trudged through the depths with me. Friends who stood by me while others turned away in disgust and distrust. A Christian attorney who gently guided me through the process and understood that I didn't want to look for loop holes to get out of punishment. And an incredible husband, who like Joseph, might have been justified in leaving me in my own disaster, but who listened to God and stayed...and loved.

The list goes on and on. I found that the more I relinquished control, the more strength I found to face the pain in the moment. And though I faced incarceration (loss of freedom) I felt more freedom than I had ever known. I began to anticipate the presence of God each step along the way.

Christmas came in 2001. It was an extremely precious time of gathering together with family. There was a fullness and sweetness of each moment. And while I really don't remember what presents were unwrapped that day, I can name the gifts that came one, by one, by one.

And now it's 2005. It seems like so many more than four Christmases have passed and I have a choice of whether I will focus on the trappings, or focus on the Gift. As for me and my house, we will choose the gift.