Friday, April 27, 2007

Heaven Too

The seminar went well. Seven counties were represented in the audience. We used power point. It was the first time I ever did that. I wish we had some sort of traveling clicker so that we didn't have to stand at the podium with the computer and use the mouse. I'll get better. I told Dan that I need to take like a three day retreat to just go and play...I mean learn how to create my own power point.

I was really drained when the seminar was over. I spent the first half presenting with my coworkers. In the second half, I was part of the panel that was comprised of "graduates" of the program. We presented our perspective alongside Mr. R who spoke from the perspective of a business owner who had been willing to work with felons. The second part was more difficult: owning my own ex-offender status. It went well. We received many positive comments on our evaluation forms. One of the counties represented asked us to come and make the same presentation to their Job and Family Service people.

Today I wrote the following devotional for our church's web devotional journal:
Transformational Journal Devotions: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Monday: vs. 3-4
In one of the churches where I served as an associate, the pastor’s wife often used a phrase that reminds me of this passage. When life got sticky or icky she could be heard reminding herself: "all this and heaven, too!" Occasionally there was a note of sarcasm in her voice, but we all knew that she said it to remind herself that whatever she was facing was not the end, as a believer, she had her heart set on heaven. It makes me sad that there seems to a languishing hunger for heaven. We live in such an instant age. People don’t save like they used to. It’s all about living in the now. It’s pretty well summed up in a bumper sticker I saw not long ago: I’m spending my children’s inheritance. As Christ followers, our priceless inheritance is kept for us in heaven "beyond the reach of change or decay." And like my pastor’s wife, I’m looking forward to the day when I receive that treasure. It’s so much more than this world around us—there really is heaven, too!
-Have you been living for an earthly or heavenly inheritance?
-Write about your understanding or feelings toward heaven.
-Write a prayer asking God to give you His understanding of heaven

Tonight I got a phone call from a family friend. The pastor's wife I mentioned in the devotional died Wednesday morning. She now has her "heaven, too!"

Then just a few minutes ago I got a call on my cell. Odd for this time on a Friday. I knew that one of the guys in our Ntown work program didn't work today, but I didn't know why until I got the call. It was from his sister. She had taken him to the ER last night. He has pnuemonia and they found a mass in his lung. They also think that his leukemia has returned.

I'm feeling somewhere between sad and numb. I've just been on the edge of tears since I got done with the seminar. Perhaps a good cup of tea is in order.

Driving Thoughts

I was thinking while I was driving yesterday. I like driving for that very reason. I like getting with my thoughts. It’s a good time to pray and sing and think.

Tomorrow is our big seminar: Breaking the Barriers. You can find info about it on web page ( I just clicked over to check it out. I had to smile at the pics of me. In 7 to 10 business days, I’m going to look a bit different. Today I had an appointment to get my eyes checked. I need stronger glasses. I picked out new frames.

There was a health fair going on at the medical building. In the vision center they were have a “trunk sale.” They had two reps there displaying their wares. I tried on one of the pairs. They’re burgundy in color with a little “bling” on the ear pieces. They’re also different shaped. The lenses on the new glasses are smaller and more oval shaped. I really like them and the staff all thought they made look younger. I think they were interested because they wanted to make a sale. They decided my current glasses make me look older and something about a droop. I bought it…and them!

While I was driving I was thinking about my work. Somehow while also thinking about the seminar, my mind drifted to what I would say if I could go back and talk to the agency I had worked at. The kids we worked with there were always in trouble with the law. It wasn’t hard to imagine many of them ending up in my current workplace: unemployed due to felony convictions, needing help changing their minds and behaviors so that they could become contributing members of society. So, what would I say to that other agency? Fix them now!

I know it’s not that easy. And in some cases I don’t if it is possible. As I work with this portion of the population, I am truly beginning to understand generational strongholds. I talk with participants both here at the home base and in the outlying counties who describe how their parents and grandparents have had troubles with the law. Now, this isn’t true for everyone, but the percentage is high enough that it warrants attention.

We were having a meeting with a potential participant. Her pastor had brought her to meet with us. One comment that he made really stood out to me. In a very encouraging tone, he told her that he thought she had the best chance in her family to break the cycle of addiction. His words appear to have fallen way short of their mark. It’s been a week and she hasn’t been back.

Where does resiliency come from? Why is it some people can face adversities and atrocities beyond description and come out on top—land on their feet, while others are left with only bitterness and brokenness?

These are the question I live with daily….more later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Where did the week go?

It’s Wednesday morning. I can’t believe I haven’t posted for a week. Yes, I can. (Imagine me sighing and my shoulders drooping a bit.)

It’s been a long week. I worked in the factory every day but Wednesday last week. I didn’t do much manual labor—I spent my time catching up on paperwork. Cleaning up messes. Putting out relational fires.

Then on the weekend, when I might have caught a breather: Nelson and Asher get sick. Nelson went to bed at 5:30 on Saturday evening and slept through until nearly 3:00 on Sunday. He went to work on Monday, but didn’t start feeling human until yesterday. Asher, we found out yesterday when he went to get his next round of shots, has the roto virus. He was puking and having soupy poops all weekend. One exploded out his diaper, down my leg, plopped on my foot, and sprayed the walls around us. (Graphic enough picture? I’m tired of suffering alone. Lol)

To add to my exhaustion, I’m working every night this week at Curves. Then on Friday we are hosting a seminar about the reentry ministry we offer in the three counties we work in to the fifteen counties in our parole region. Oh, and wait! One of those three counties is auditing my files today. Oh and add to that, the parent company we have our packaging program with is going on a shut down so all the work had to be packaged or sent back to them and now my workers are facing several days of no work. And, we still haggling to be able to rent the new space so that the move is hanging over my head.

I didn’t want to get out of bed today. It’s my travel day. And it’s supposed to rain all day. Did I mention that I’m under a little stress and a rainy day would be perfect for staying in my jimmies, sipping tea, and being totally irresponsible.

I just don’t know how to do that. (Insert another deep sigh) I need to change my focus. Something positive and fun?

I got my Palm TX! It’s quite cool and I’m starting to figure it out. I’m frustrated because I can’t figure out how to get the status bar back at the bottom. It’s there just not showing. The keyboard that came with it is great. It has Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities. And I’ve already loaded scrabble on to it! Now, there’s a stress reliever!

Ann and Travis have worked things to the point where they want to have her and the kids move home. She gave us her two week notice. I’m going to miss her and the kids, but I so know that this is for the best. They’ll keep working and we’ll keep praying.

Beth and Ron are talking about eloping. I’m still getting used to the idea. They’ve mentioned several places, but have talked wanting to be married on the beach somewhere, possibly in Florida or San Diego. We’ll see as it all unfolds.

Nelson and I are back on track with our eating. Poor choices (aka Easter candy and other extremely high carb junk) and lack of portion control had crept back into our habits. We’re back to writing everything down and keeping totals. I’ve also stepped up my workout at Curves. I was excited this morning that I was able to fit into two skirts that had been tight just last week! I want to lose at least 15 pounds before I go to Mom’s in June.

Well, it’s now time to walk out the door. Ah, for the final blessing: there are a scazillion lilac buds on my bush! And that reminds me that God is still in control—and no matter what comes my way, if I keep hold of that: I can face anything!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nothing profound

Here's how my week went...

It's April 14th. And I don't want to look out the window. It''s snowing and sticking. Sigh. I'm really afraid that there will be no lilacs this spring...I'm not even sure if there'll be a spring...double sigh. The leaves that had sprouted on the lilac have turned black from the cold. The forcast doesn't look very good for most of the week either. Guess I'll just go buy a lilac candle and dream.

It was a very busy week. On Monday I worked half day at the factory--in the morning. I wore my flashing 50 button. Nelson and the girls conspired to put one of those birthday ads in the paper. So there at the bottom of the first page of the classifieds was a picture of me from my first Christmas. I'm hairless but quite adorable. I think everyone in town saw it. It's okay. The surprise and all it took to pull it off just makes me know I'm loved and makes me know how much I love this incredible crew of mine!

Tuesday and Thursday I taught our WINGS class in Ntown. There were only 4 participants--should/could have been about 15. It was a good class. This time we switched from 9-3 to 9-4. It's amazing how much longer the day seemed even though it was only one hour longer. Wednesday I did my regular thing of meeting with participants for follow-up or orientation in Ntown and Stown. Come Friday, my throat was sore from all the speaking and my feet hurt from wearing heels. But it was a good kind of tired that I don't want to trade! (Insert contented smile!)

Today, Annie and I went shopping after we worked out at Curves. We started with lunch at O'Charleys. I had never eaten there. We decided to have a bowl of soup and split a salad. It was a very good idea. The soup was quite yummy--we each got a different kind and tasted each others. I got the loaded potato and she got the chicken tortilla. Good stuff. We both were happy with the split salad, especially when as we were about to leave the lady at a nearby table had a whole salad delivered to her. It was mamoth!!!! We were laughing about it all the way out of the restaurant!

Then we went and spent some of my birthday gift cards. We stopped first at Barnes and Nobels where I got two books. Then it was over to the mall where I actually bought jammies and underwear at Victoria Secret. The jammy pants are so incredibly soft. When we were done there it was right off to Bath and Body where after some careful deliberation I spent my card on two flavors of shower gel (wild cherry blossom and perfect peach) and a couple of purse size hand creams (sweet pea and lime coconut). My nose is still recovering from all the sniffing and sampling!

Our final stop was at a local coffee house where we indulged in a couple of frothy coffees. Mmmm! Nelson is off doing the grocery shopping. And Asher just woke from his nap. Guess I'm all done writing for now!

I'll write more later about the books...on is called "The Velveteen Principles" and the other is something like "The 5 Things You Can't Change in Life." It's about accepting the things we can't change and chosing to learn to live with them rather than against them. I'll get the exact title and premise/description later.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Party Central

I’ve had a wonderful day.
This morning I worked at Curves. Ann came in and worked out at the end of the day and then helped me clean so that I could get out of there since Nelson was taking me out for lunch for my birthday in Mtown. He had said something about going to Ruby Tuesday’s, but on the way I suggested Chipotle instead, which was fine by him!

We got to Chipotle and ordered our food. The meat that Nelson wanted for his burrito was still cooking and we waited quite a bit. When we went to pay, they told us our meal was comped! That’s the second time we’ve eaten there and the second time that our meal was free. I really like that place.

Then we went to Barnes and Nobles for a yummy coffee, a cookie and some brief browsing. We then went to Toys R Us. We were looking for a swing set for the grandbabies. The one we wanted was of course out of stock. We waited at the register for quite a while. Then the manager came and told us that they had one of last year’s models in a bunged up box that he would be willing to give us for $100—a $30 discount. Sold! We then went a couple places looking for Palm TX. They had one at Best Buy, but we decided to try and get it for less on Ebay.

When we got home, we came in the back door—nothing different about that. I noticed that there was a lot of food out in the kitchen, but didn’t think anything about it until I spied my dearest friend’s face looking back at me from the living room.

My family had worked together to create a wonderful birthday party surprise for me! It was Beth’s idea and she and Ann worked amazingly to make such a special time for me! Friends from Urbana (Karen and Joe) drove up with their three youngest kids. My sis was there with her two boys. My boss and co-workers were there from the T-Net. My manager and the club owner were there from Curves. My in-laws even showed up. Ann and Travis and Beth and Ron and all the grandbabies. We ran out of chairs!

I had asked for strawberry shortcake and there was an abundance. There was also some of Sis’ fruit and fruit dip. It was wonderful. The girls had decorated the place and there was a huge balloon that sang happy birthday (to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus) when you tap it.

While I was enjoying visiting with all our guests the phone rang several times. Nelson had arranged for several friends to call through the course of the party. My friend Laurie called from West Liberty. My mom called and sang happy birthday. My SIL called. Rhonda called—she was unable to attend because she’s been feeling sick.

Two calls were especially sweet to receive. Nelson contacted a very dear friend who I had lost contact with. He actually paid for one of those online services to hunt her down. It was so neat to talk to her. Then a friend and his wife called and sang happy birthday. I didn’t recognize the voice at first, but when I did—well, it was just quite a blessing.

I received several humorous cards—hip, hip, hip replacement! I also got several gift cards (I love Barnes and Nobles). I also got a console table for the entry way! I’m sure there will be more surprises and each one will make me smile even more.

And just think my birthday isn’t until Monday!!!