Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Waving from AZ!

Well, it's hot...but it's a dry heat.
And it really is green...and the flowers bloomed late this year so I've been enjoying them on my walks.
Mom and I are tied in our Scrabble marathon at 15 games a piece.
I have LOVED walking every morning. This morning I was out hitting the streets at 5:30AM!I've had some really neat revelational thoughts while walking...I'll share them later. They need a little time to germinate!
Take care and I'll catch up more later.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Heading out the door...

I made a list...checked it twice. I'm not taking my computer. Just a tablet to write on. Mom already has the Scrabble board out and waiting for me. I'll be spending the next week in sunny Green Valley, Arizona (a wonderful retirement community about 30 miles south of Tucson.) I will get over to my Aunt and Uncle's sometime during the week to check in and update you. But this is truly just a time of relaxing for me. I plan to walk everyday: morning and night. One day we're going to see "Davinci Code"; one day lunch with Auntie; one day Tubac (google it; it's wonderful!!!); and on Friday I'll go with mom to her doctor's appointment.

As for the appointment: here's the scoop. A couple years ago Mom was in Hawaii and hurt her back while sight seeing. The bus hit a bump and she was jarred. Turns out she fractured a vertebrae because she has osteoporosis. She's been taking one of those super-duper pills, but last week she coughed and fractured another. So, next Friday we're going to see a bone doc. My great-grandmother also had ostoeporosis. I drink a yogart smoothie every day, have a container of yogart and drink at least one glass of milk. I'm going to get a bone density done when I'm 50. And so should you! Lecture done.

So have a great week...I plan to. Happy tiles to you!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Staring at Despair

I wonder if every time Peter faced a test if he questioned whether it was all related back to his failure with Jesus? What do you do with tests of faith, or tests that seem directed right at your character?

I was thinking about that today while I was working. This financial set back feels like a test. Sunday morning at church we knew that we were going to be challenged to consider a Faith Promise commitment to support our missionaries in Mexico. Nelson and I talked about it and felt that we wanted to work more on being consistent with our tithe and offerings. But as we sat in church we both felt led to commit a substantial amount. He filled out the card and I beamed at the spiritual sensitivity and leadership of this wonderful man I married. Then Monday BWC called and stated they were canceling Nelson’s benefits.

So I was wondering: how fast do your tests come at you? To test your resolve? To test your commitment? To test…you?

Mine seem to come fast and furious. And as I was working there on the stud press machine this morning I feel like I stared despair in the face. It seemed so unfair that our desire was to give and in a blink our resources were chopped down. I had too much time in my head. Everything began to look bleak and then black.

So I looked up despair:
To be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat.
A state in which everything seems wrong and will turn out badly.

That pretty much sums it up. Nothing looks like it’s going to improve for Nelson. Due to this accident he has become morbidly obese limiting even further the limitations of his ability to be mobile. Watching him is literally breaking my heart. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

As I stood there putting bolts in hubs, I thought more about Peter and more about the conversation I had that got me dreaming again. My hands hurt, but my heart ached more. I love speaking. I love teaching. God gifted me that way. He used me that way. Then I screwed up. I failed a huge, huge test. And it was taken away. But not all of it. The opportunities have been taken away from me, but the desire has only grown. I just want to scream out: “Put me in, Coach!”

The ache of futility bashed against me in tsunami size waves. I knew that the financial reversals were no greater test than this moment of despair. How was I going to deal with this?

In that moment I was reminded of David’s prayer that God would restore the joy of His salvation. I stood at the crossroad of despair that could lead down the path of Judas—to suicide and the Way of hope that leads to life. I understood in that instant how someone could chose to take path of despair. Hope seemed like a lot of work and a lot of work that right then only seemed to be leading to emptiness.
I let the words roll around in my head. I clung to Paul’s admonition to think on these things (Philippians 4:8). And it became clearer and clearer that the joy David prayed for wasn’t a feeling. He wasn’t asking to be happy. Happiness is too dependent upon circumstances. David was crying out, crying out from his shame and despair to be restored to relationship with God. That relationship is the only thing that can bring joy.

I stared at despair today, but I didn’t stay there. I lifted my eyes and headed my feet down the Way of hope. It’s not an easy road. It won’t always make sense in the moment. But it’s the only way I know to go. And if along the way I’m able to use my gifts and talents to bless others and honor God, then that’s enough. It’s a gift and I will be grateful or it.

Some things still seem wrong. I don’t understand all the pieces. But I know, deep in my being, that I only have a limited view of what’s really going on. I’m going to trust that one, trust it every step of the way. I figure that must be the way Peter faced those tests, too.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Week in Review

Such a day it’s been. No wait…such a week. I’ve been working on an assembly line where we’re making a part we’ve made before, for a company that we’ve made it for, but it’s a new contract and they’re requiring a 100% check. That has required several more people on the line. The first day we did 613 in 5hrs; the second day we did 866; and on Saturday (yes, overtime) we did 1086. Today in 6.5 hours we did 977 and then to finish the day we switched over to a different part. I’ve got lots of new bruises, but I slowly becoming less sore and achy.

I’m continuing to eat well and I feel good. I got a new pair of walking sneakers. Now, I’ve had good tennis shoes before, but these are specifically made for walking. What a wonderful difference. I decided to take a walk after dinner. I was probably only out for a 30 minutes. No soreness. No blisters. And the best part is that I bought them dirt cheap on ebay!!!

I’ve had the opportunity to begin dreaming again. I want to believe that something has been brewing and that there’s something more than exciting on the horizon. I want to hope. I’ve been contacted by someone who has a vision and I may be a part of that. It’s an opportunity to use my gifts, my talents, my training, and my experience. Hope is so fragile. Dreams are so tenuous. Does it make any sense that I am so afraid?

I leave for my Mom’s on Saturday and will be staying to the following Saturday. That is if I get my travel permit from my PO. She hasn’t been able to get her supervisor to fax it back to her. Hopefully it’ll be ready by Thursday. That’s when I’m supposed to pick it up. These are the days I find so stressful. I purchased a ticket nearly a month ago. And if this supervisor gets a whim that I shouldn’t go then I’m just out the cash. I had hoped so much to be off paper (completed community control) by the next time I went to Mom’s. That isn’t going to happen. I don’t believe that I’ll be getting off early at all so this will continue until at least next February.

And then there’s the continuing saga of Nelson vs. the BWC and Doctor. Today Nelson hit a new low. His worker from BWC called and informed him that since there has been no action on his case all his benefits are going to be terminated. He’s been calling almost daily to try and get this thing resolved, but the doctor isn’t in or doesn’t return his calls and then there’s all the hassles of trying to get a hold of the people at BWC. He’s been through at least four case managers. And now, with no resolution, no disability, no rehab he’s just going to be cut off? He can’t walk—there’s no way he’s going to work. We can’t afford a lawyer. It’s as if someone tied a millstone around his neck. I’ve been sitting here trying to pray and I don’t even know how.

Some week, huh?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


My neighborhood is humming. I added to the humming after work. It’s humming because the sun is actually shining!!! When I got home I walked in the front door, I emptied my lunch box, immediately changed to my mowing shoes, and walked out the back door to the garage to get the mower. My Mothers’ Day gift worked wonderfully!!! I got the yard mowed in less than a half hour.

While I was mowing there were five other people around me mowing. Since I finished I think three more have mowed their lawns.

Weight Loss Update: I started eating according to the Nutrisystem plan on February 16. Since then I have lost 21 pounds. Since the beginning of this year I have lost 24! I’m feeling good about that. I would have like to be farther down, but losing it slowly generally means it’ll stay off. That’s my plan. I’d like to lose 28 more pounds. That’s not unreasonable and definitely maintainable. It should be easier with summer here. I love walking. I drink lots more water and my appetite generally dips way down. I’m going to make the most of all that and hopefully reach my goal by September 1.

And now that supper is done, I’m catching up on some Scrabble boards ( I love online Scrabble as much as face to face! I can play with lots of different folks—sometimes as many as 15 games at a time). Guess what I just heard? Thunder! Guess there were a few sighs of relief around my neighborhood!

I had to giggle at myself yesterday. I was working the stud press. It’s sort of become my job and I’m getting faster and faster at it. (So much so that two people told me to slow down today!) I was also having to feed the machine and do some scrubbing. I was running back and forth, so much so that I had worked up quite a sweat. (I should probably interject that I push myself extra hard, walk very fast, and just plain move like a woman on a mission--I only have one speed: full steam ahead!) I felt myself start to grumble (you know the kind when you're starting to feel sorry for yourself...), but then it dawned on me that if I kept up that pace it was going to be a great day of exercise! At least three more times I found myself reframing situations like that. And each time I would giggle at myself. Good thing that very few people walk by me—I’d hate to have to explain why I’m laughing at myself!

Here’s to laughter—it’s sweet, sweet medicine!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Day To Me!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

What a sweet day it has been. I presented my monologue in all three services. When I sent Pastor a copy earlier in the week, he responded by telling me that it was “right on.” I felt good about that. The presentations went smoothly.

Baby Asher was dedicated at the 8:30 service. It was such a blessing and he was so amazingly cute---and well-behaved. Beth had gotten him an outfit from Baby Gap, so he was quite stylish in his baby cargo pants, yellow T-shirt (aka onesie) and argyle sweater vest. I teared up during the service, thinking about my baby dedicating her baby.

We got a coupon in the mail yesterday for Chipotle Grill. I’ve wanted to try it so because we got such a good coupon we did! The first amazing thing occurred when we told them that it was our first time there—they comped our meal!!! All we paid for was our drinks. So all three of us (Beth, Nelson, and I) ate for $4.50! The next amazing thing was how scrumptious our meal was. Oh, my!

When we were done Nelson told me to run by GFS (General Food Services) and get my next gift: a three pound tub of Chicken Salad—one of my most favorite foods. They were on sale!! So good. Then we drove over to Dairy Queen where Nelson bought Beth and I an ice cream Mothers’ Day cake. I’m so stuffed, that I don’t think that I eat any more today!

Now I’m just sitting here trying to unwind, but also thinking about my next monologue. I’ll be writing and presenting something for Pentecost Sunday. That gives me a couple weeks.

I got lots of positive feedback. After the first service a woman came up to me and asked if I had any training or experience that made it easier for me to get up front and do that kind of thing. I smiled. Just 20 years of pastoral experience, lots of drama experience, three master’s degrees…She was so surprised. She had no idea of my background. I let her know that that platform was where I was most comfortable on earth. Good news is that I get to do at least two more.

Well, that’s enough for now. Going to put my feet up for a bit. Need to rest up before work tomorrow. Here’s to sunshiny Sundays and Hershey Kiss hugs!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Here's my monologue for next Sunday, based on the restoration of Peter (John 21:15-17). I've sent it to Pastor...hopefully it will fit with where he's heading.

How will you be remembered?
Do you have any idea what is like to be know for the one thing you’ve done wrong?
Thomas forever will be called the doubter.
Moses was the stuttering Hebrew who killed the Egyptian, but became the man of faith who led God’s thankless people to the Promised Land.
King David was the adulterer, the murderer, the bad dad who became known as the man after God’s own heart.

His Psalm holds the key to the transition: restore to me the joy of my salvation.Restore…to give back the original condition. Jesus did that for me.

There we were on the shore, eating fish. We didn’t think it was going to happen. We had pretty much given up. We had gone back to our old ways. Fishing, after all, was what we knew. What we were made for.

But there over breakfast, Jesus reminded us that he had more in mind.

I sat just outside the group. Surely, he really couldn’t mean to include me. Not after what I had done. Not after what I had said. The lies, the cursing, cutting off that man’s ear. I really thought I had meant that I would follow him anywhere. But that was all gone now.

It was one thing to come back to the guys. No, it wasn’t easy. They could have turned me away…if they had I probably would have ended up dead like Judas. But they let me back into their circle. I never expected that Jesus would. I knew I had gone too far…certainly he couldn’t use me.

Restore to me the joy of my salvation. David’s heart was no more for you than mine, God. No more than mine. But I deserve to be out here.

I sat for a bit in my solitude, doing a pretty good job of beating myself up. When suddenly, but quietly I realized that Jesus was sitting beside me. I could barely look at him. Was he going to scold me, like he did when we fell asleep in the garden, or when we couldn’t cast out the demons. My faith was so small. I wanted to reach out but my shame consumed me.
“Peter, do you love me, more than these.” His words held me in their tenderness. I couldn’t help myself, I was like a parched man at a fresh spring lapping up the life. “Yes, Lord, you know I do.” I would leave them in a second to be back in relationship with you. Sure I needed their acceptance, but not like I needed that of the Lord’s. “Then feed my lambs.”

“Simon, son of John, do you love me.” What was he asking? Son of John, that’s who I am. Do I
love you more than myself? “Yes Lord, I love you.” And again, “Then feed my sheep.”Then he asked me again. What wasn’t I getting? Why did this seem so hard? I wanted to give him the right answer. “Do you love me?” You know everything already, Lord. You don’t need to ask.

Wait, the right answer isn’t for you is it, Jesus? What are you saying that I need to hear?
Do you love me? Not, “are you sorry for what you did, for what you said, how you acted?” Those things were cluttering my mind, not his. He asked if I loved him, not because he needed to know—but because I needed to know. I needed to be redirected. Restored.

Then, just as he did years before he looked deep into my eyes and told me, “Follow me.”
He knew my heart was true. He knew I was easily distracted; how terribly easy it is for me to get my eyes on others. He wanted me to live in my love for him and to serve him out of that same love. He wanted me to follow him with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.

This moment wasn’t just about making me feel better. He was drawing me back. Back into service. I wasn’t going to be about fishing anymore. There were flocks to feed. There was work to be done. I needed to quit feeling sorry for myself and get to it.

I’m restored to serve him. That’s what I want to be remembered for, but if you must remember the failure, go ahead. Just be sure that you see he still was willing to use me. Me and my love for him.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Greasy, Grimy

I started an entry a couple days ago. Revised it yesterday morning. It just sounded like a bad email about what’s been happening in my life. It wasn’t really “poor me” but it wasn’t much better.

Here are the high points:
-Wednesday was a hard day (physically) at work for me and also for Nelson (Asher wanted to do his shrilly scream all day) so we got a way and went for Mexican for dinner.
-Thursday Nelson decided to go buy a new lawn mower (because Wednesday evening it would start).
-Friday Beth mowed the yard with the new mower. Guess she decided not to let me have the maiden voyage like she did with the washer and dryer (lol).
-The lawn mower is my Mother’s Day present. (giggles to herself, since her birthday present was the washer and dryer)

Yesterday at work I got so greasy dirty that I wasn’t sure I’d come clean. Our company purchased (as is) 5 machines from a company in Tennessee. The ‘as is’ was that that they were completely greasy, grimy messes and in many pieces. I jumped in with the power sprayer and not only got totally greasy and gross, but also soaked. You know you’re a mess (and quite comical) when someone at work threatens to get a camera to take a picture, but then when you get home your husband does.

It was dirty work but it was fun in a weird sort of way. I’m going to do the same thing on Monday. So Friday I spent about 4 hours steam cleaning and I’ll be doing at least the same. That’s eight plus hours in a steam room. This should be good for my skin or weight or something shouldn’t it?

Right now I’m at Annie’s. I got here last night. It was so fun to play with Penelope. She’s jabbering away. Caden is growing so quickly. Today we’re going garage saling in her little town—the whole community has their sales on the same day. And then this afternoon we’re going to a Victorian tea at her church. She’s quite excited to have me see her new church and meet some of her new friends. It just makes my heart smile.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


As I said in my previous post, I was totally buoyed and saturated. The theme for the conference was “Contagious Joy.” I caught that for sure. But what else?

Going to conferences is typically very difficult for me. I am a public speaker, a communicator. I have great difficulty staying focused, so I speak to others with that in mind. I work hard to read an audience to be sure that they’re with me. And I get a lot of positive feedback when I speak and teach.

I guess that is why I am having such a hard time these days. I’m not doing and even farther from being who my gifts make me. And some days, I just don’t have enough hope to see it ever happening again. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse—this is just the battle of my heart.

So I sat in this conference, fully believing that it was no accident that I was there; open to anything that would speak to me and my situation. I heard a lot—some of it I even wrote down.
Interestingly, on Thursday morning someone walked up to me at the factory and asked me how I was—simple question. Their next question was: what would you like to be doing? This guy knows my story, knows where I’ve been, knows what I’ve been, and knows what I would like to be doing. He then went on to describe a possible scenario and how I might fit into it—and be able to utilize my gifts and abilities. There definitely was an appeal, but reality came thudding back into my mind—nothing is probably going to come of this.

One thought that was oft repeated came from Patsy Claremont. She kept admonishing us to be willing to take the next step. Now, I have believed that I am always ready for the next step—when I know what it is and have been able to carefully research it. I don’t think I would have been at the front of the line there at the Jordan River “ready” to get my toes wet. For those of you less familiar with the story: that’s how the children of Israel got into the Promised Land. They stood there on the bank. The river was rushing by, full and fast. Got told them to get on over. It wasn’t until they stepped into the water that it parted, enabling them to cross.

So this morning I’m awake at 4:00. I’m on cleaning detail at work. We have worked far ahead on orders and there isn’t any manufacturing work to do. Monday I buffed the break room floor and did some data entry. Yesterday I scrubbed a machine—I have the bruises and skinned knee to prove I really got into the task. I’m feeling sort of superfluous. Lay-offs are a distinct possibility and because D is now trained in my old job and quite good at a few more than me, I feel that I’m a pretty prime target for the old pink slip.

I’m trying to prepare myself for this. I’m trying to be okay with it. I’m not doing very well. Being unnecessary isn’t easy for me. What’s the next step in all this? I’m going to go in and pack up all my personal belongings to bring home. But then what?

Yesterday I met with the director of volunteers at church. She’s looking for someone to do some writing of study guides for small group leaders. The guides flow with the text for the message on Sunday. I’m very interested in this. I would have more time to write if I wasn’t scrubbing big machines. Does a lay-off free me up to write more? Is that the next step?

My ducks are not in a row. In fact, they’re running willy-nilly everywhere. Oddly, I’m not scrambling to pull them all in. I’m sort of just sitting still and watching them run. They’re awfully cute out there just playing. Getting comfortable and okay with not controlling everything just isn’t easy.

So that’s where I am. It feels a bit like nowhere. I like that word. It’s not only “no where”, it’s also “now here.” And I guess that’s where I am: present but not certain of what that means or where that is. But here. Looking. Listening. Ready to take the next step.