Monday, February 19, 2007

We're Back!

What a wonderful weekend I had!

We finally got moving down the road around 4PM.

Each turn or route we took erased a possibility of our desitnation.

We went south on 71. We went around Columbus on 270 toward Indianapolis. I crossed the border into Indiana (and I didn’t have to have a travel pass to do it!!!!). When we got to Indianapolis we went south on 465 to 65 south, straight down the road to Nashville, Indiana. Ahhhhh, Brown County.

Some of you may remember we spent our 25th anniversary in a lovely cabin there and meandered through the shops and eateries for several days. It was wonderful. Nelson knew how much I enjoyed that and decided to whisk me away for a couple of days there.

At first it seemed long way to go for such a short time---it’s about a 5 hour trip. But it was so lovely. Saturday it did a lazy snow all day—and I didn’t even care!!! Me, the queen of the weather weenies. What did I care! My car was parked, our cozy suite was within walking distance of everything. I was set. Me and my sweetie just soaked it all in.

One of the things I got was a travel mug from the Life is Good shop. It’s one of our favorite shops in town. He played special songs for us about love and our anniversary—the oldies we knew and loved. My mug is dark pink with a heart on one side where it says Life is good! The other side says “Do what you like. Like what you do.”

Since I’m at work now I think I will mind my mug and write more later. TTFN

Friday, February 16, 2007

Anniversary Adventure

Tomorrow (the 17th) is my, our 28th wedding anniversary. Nelson has made arrangements to “kidnap” me. He made sure that the girls had childcare all arranged so that I didn’t need to “worry” about that. He told me to pack a bag for him and me for two days. I was not told what we were doing, except we will be having dinner at Pizza Hut tomorrow night.

We went to Pizza Hut on our first date. We ate at Pizza Hut on our way from the wedding to the lodge at Salt Fork State Park, where we spent our honeymoon. On our way home from the hospital with Annie we stopped at Pizza Hut and celebrated her birth with our Pastor and his wife. We found a Pizza Hut near Nashville, Indiana when we were on our 25th anniversary adventure. So it is right and good to eat at Pizza Hut tomorrow night.

I went to Goodwill and was fortunate to find a pair of Victoria Secret satin pajamas to take with me on the trip. And they were half price! So was the bathing suit I bought for just in case there’s a pool wherever we’re staying.

I called home this morning and asked Annie (both Annie and Beth know Nelson’s plans, but both have done a great job of not letting anything slip) if the clothes I packed were appropriate for the trip. It’s odd. I haven’t wondered or worried about what the adventure will hold. Kind of reminds me of how I felt when I got married—I wasn’t worried and knew I could trust this amazing man.

I hope there is specialness and love in your weekend. I know there will be in mine.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Have you ever wished you were something you’re not?

I wish I was more introverted. Does that sound crazy? I know so many people who wish they were more extroverted.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love most of what it means that I am an extrovert. Except that I think out loud. That piece of my personality has led me into more muddy experiences than I can count or remember.

Here’s an example.
One of the participants in our program was fired because he missed work for a probation violation (happens quite often). Subsequent to that he sat in jail. First thing he checked on when he got out was where his last check was. We needed to get that last paycheck to him and the plan was that we would do that this week when we were in his town doing our WINGS class. Enter the blizzard. I thought his check would be mailed, but I hadn’t gotten the complete word on that. He called me at home last night. I told him my boss was unavailable and that I would get in touch with him this morning. A few minutes ago I come back from a quick trip to the bathroom to find that I missed two calls—from this guy! He wanted to know about his check. I was irritated. I had gone to my boss’ office and he was in a meeting with my co-worker. I was waiting to check on the check when this guy calls.

Enter the extrovert. Enter the feeling driven extrovert. Grrrrrr. I walk to the boss’ office, interrupt the meeting, express only partial frustration and the boss jumps on the guy about the calls. Well, he deserved some of the frustration, but I needed to think way, way through what I needed to say. I said something about being frustrated because I was thinking out loud. My behavior was more like one of our clients than that of a professional.

I just went back and apologized to my boss.

Sometimes my greatest strengths are also my greatest weaknesses.

Now before you jump on me…I know the downside to the introvert’s over-thinking things. An introvert can literally think something to death. I just want to be a little more balanced. Sometimes I think a lock on my mouth might work—or duct tape. I was talking to my prayer partner last week and our conversation got around to this kind of thing and I remember saying that I only open my mouth to change feet. (insert heavy sigh)

Guess that just means there’s room for growth. I hope so…cause I sure don’t like feeling the way I’m feeling right now.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Spousal Pride

I just needed to brag on my sweetie.

Our old scale died over a month ago. We bought a new one. Nelson weighed himself and he was down 119 pounds!!!!!!

This morning Nelson wanted to wear pants to church instead of his bib overalls. I went hunting for the smaller pair we bought at the end of November for him to wear when the big pair got too big. The pair we bought for job hunting had a 54” waist. The other pair was a 50”. Well, the 50” pair fell off him too! So we dug in his pants drawer and found a pair of jeans that were 48”—and they were too big too!!!!! The 54” pair was tight when we bought them so he’s dropped at least 5, if not 6 pants sizes.

I’m just so proud of him…and it sure keeps me working to lose too!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Grace and Flaws

(I lead the devotions at work on Wednesday mornings at 6:30. I started pulling out stuff off my shelves, looking for an idea. I stumbled back across the books mentioned below and realized I had started a post about them, so I am including that here with some more thoughts to go along with them.)

One of the books I bought with my Christmas gift card is “Get Out of Your Own Way.” It’s quite a practical little book and I read through it (very quickly) this morning, looking through it to see if there were parts I could use for the groups I teach. There are some good chapters that I will be implementing. One of the most valuable things was in the introduction (isn’t that the way it goes often) where the authors listed 10 things you can learn from self-defeating behavior. Now there’s some fodder for group work for sure!

Then I picked up one of the other books that I bought: “To Be Told, God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future.” More stuff for groups—ok, and for me! I just read a line that made me lay down the book and start writing: live your life in the right direction. Need to ponder on that for a while.

Try this one on: “God writes the story of my life to make something known about himself. He goes on: in our story God shows us what he’s up to and what he wants us to be about.”

Or this: “When I study and understand my life story, I can then join God as a coauthor.”

This one just makes me smile. Me, a coauthor with God. Since I was very young I have longed to be a writer. My dad painfully announced his judgment of that dream to my childlike heart: you will never write a book. It was as if he doomed me to never having anything of value to say or share with anyone. I have fought against that so much. Spent much time, effort, and money to learn how to have something of value to say.

Allender: You are a story. You are not merely the possessor and teller of a number of stories; you are a well-written, intentional story that is authored by the greatest Writer of all time, and even before time and after time. (p. 10)

“What makes my life a glorious bestseller is that my plot reveals not a mere moral or lesson but the very person and being of God. A merely good life reveals little beyond the fact that goodness exists. But a life that knows it’s plot, characters, setting, dialogue, and themes will possess a clear and abiding passion that reveals something unique about the Author. A life that is familiar with its story reveals much about the character of God.” (P. 22)

We give him (God) much greater glory when we are aware of our calling, live intentionally, and live with passion. P. 22

I just read the second chapter in the book. It’s about knowing your name. The author is obviously coming from the Judeo/Christian perspective where an individual often received a new name later in life that more identified them with their purpose or relationship with God. He moves on then with the exploring the story, or theme of your life.

Chapter three starts with a quote about the “flawed” life. I started to read the quote and just laid the book down on my desk. The resonation at that point was deafening.

There is a definite linking between the theme of our life, our name, and how our story unfolds. I know that my parents wanted a child. They had actually begun considering adoption, to my paternal grandmother’s absolute chagrin. Then I entered the scene. But it was hard to know whether my greater flaw was my distorted appearance from my crossed eyes, or the fact that I lacked male genitalia. Flip a coin. Truth be told I was a disappointment either way. And therein lies this remarkable thread or theme.

When I was a little girl I loved two shows. I remember watching and memorizing the plot and lines from “The Wizard of Oz.” I so related to Dorothy’s search from what was missing only to find it in her own heart and back yard. I loved the Christmas program of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. I knew I belonged on the Island of Misfit Toys. I so related to that lost and missing piece…and missing peace.

And now I find myself working daily with those who are convinced they don’t fit in and that there lives are so messed up there could never be any purpose or meaning for them. And daily I tell them “Not so!”

What is the message in my flaws? (I feel a little like Dorothy being questioned by Glinda here.) That’s hard. I have always had an affinity to those who don’t feel like they fit in. I loved hospital chaplaincy because many of the people there were living on the raw edge of life that didn’t fit nicely into the clean order of a church pew. I often said I was a better chaplain than church pastor because I felt much more natural in a setting where I was helping come to faith or growth in faith than in making denominational autobots.

And now I find myself in a ministry that really gets in the trenches. I listen to people talk about how they are uncomfortable with the thought of working with the kind of people I work with. I was even confronted recently by a church staff member with their concerns with my interest in serving in a leadership position at church. “We have to be careful to not be a stumbling block. What would people think?”

I will be honest. There are times when I miss preaching, when I miss leading a congregation. And with what I have been through in recent years, I actually think I would be a much better congregational leader. I would be so much more tuned in. But that’s not where I am called or placed. So here on my island I keep planting seeds and watching for faith to grow.

That I am here did not come as a surprise to God. He knew when he called me to ministry and gifted me like he did that my gifts would be valuable right here, right now. I don’t need to run away from the cracks and flaws in my vessel.

Tucked way in the 15th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a marvelous little verse: “…I am what I am by the grace of God…and his grace was not in vain!”

Monday, February 05, 2007


A while back I started reading the book: “When Is Enough, Enough? What You Can Do If You Never Feel Satisfied” by Ashner and Meyerson. I had borrowed it from the library. I loved what I was reading and found it very hard not to make notes in the margin.

I love I got the book and I am devouring it! My yellow marker and red pen are keeping busy—but so is my google internet search engine. I’m finding all kinds of fodder for the classes I teach.

This morning I spent two hours teaching class. Here’s my outline:
1. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and how one can become the other.
I draw a continuum on the board and ask them to make a list of their strengths and weaknesses. I have them share some of their strengths and show how when pushed to the limit they can become a weakness. Conversely, I ask them to share a weakness and I show how when reeled back in, these reveal a strength. I tell them it’s time to reclaim their strengths and live in balance.

2. Stress Response: Flight or Fight.
We are wired to survive and protect ourselves from the prowling saber tooth tigers. We identify the tigers (or giants) in our lives that threaten us and how we respond with flight or fight. I lead them in a discussion of how futile flight really is: running gets you nowhere and wherever you go, there you are! We begin to consider the mature ways to fight.

3. Coping through Defense Mechanisms.
I take them through a list of defense mechanisms which may have been helpful at one point, but could be hindering their growth and development.

It was a good class and the attendees told me that they got a lot out the lesson. That feels good, but I really hope that there was something that they could come away with that will help them break the cycle of self-defeating behavior.

So, I’m reading and marking in my book and I get to an emboldened heading that stops in my tracks: Do you have the courage to be you? Hmmmm.

Just a little later I found this: “A history of self-sabotage is almost always a key that we have some central conflict with our identity—a problem accepting our personality, our real needs and goals, and working with them, not against them. Our work must begin with building self-esteem. There is no shortcut.” (page 43)

“…we’ve lost the only thing that can possibly make us feel secure—a real connection with ourselves.”

“Recently a woman at one of our workshops confided, ‘I’d like to own a bed and breakfast place, but reality is I have two children and a husband who is about to lose his job. Am I supposed to make the whole family starve while I follow some fantasy?’ What makes us so sure that we’d fail if we pursue a dream? Surely it’s not experience.” (page 44)

Maybe this only speaks to me. Honestly though, I want to believe that I’m not alone in this. I want to succeed, but I’m really afraid. I’m afraid to try because it means I could fail. And even though I know in my head that in reality there’s a process to coming to success that involves a weeding out that is often deemed as failure, the only real and true failure is not trying so by not trying the only thing I get is failure. How convoluted is all that?

So I guess the courage comes at being willing to live with the clicking tongues and head shakes that infer the judgment of others. Who would have thought that at nearly 50 I would still be struggling with this adolescent foolishness? Not me, that’s for sure. But perhaps it’s better to finally get to the struggle than to never face it at all. Perhaps, the struggle indicates that growth is still possible and the years to come can hold amazing adventure as I live courageously, adventurously, and expectantly.

Maybe the courage can come now because I don’t have to impress anyone. Maybe the gift of being about to turn 50 is that I’m finally free to be. Now this is a perspective I can wrap my brain—heck, I can wrap my whole being around this!