>I’m reading this really great book. It’s called “O Me of Little Faith” by Jason Boyett. It’s all about doubt within the Christian life. It strikes a chord with me because I have struggled with doubt throughout my years on earth…even though I grew up in the Church and have loved Jesus all the while. How could I doubt? Well, I don’t know. How do I have faith? I don’t know that either. But I possess both of them and they both make me a stronger believer…because they both keep me searching for the Truth.
In the book, Boyett discusses some of his “experiences” with God; times when he knew that God was real.
His accounts made me think, “What are some of the touchstones of my faith? When have I known without a shadow of doubt that 1) God is real and 2) in His realness He cares for me? One occurrence in my life popped right into my recollection.
When I was a kid we were pretty bad off in the money department. I was the little girl who, in the 1980’s, was wearing brown polyester and bell bottoms when the other kids were wearing florescent nylon and tapered leg jeans. Hand-me-downs were my personal style.
We were also the “scholarship kids” at a Christian school. All of our friends were pretty well off. The day after Christmas break was always torture as the other kids talked about Santa bringing Nintendos and Reebok’s and about 500 other gifts. Our Christmas’ were about Jesus, family and cookies…not so much about toys. But when you’re in 2nd grade you want it to be about the presents.
One day at that Christian school we were challenged to go home and collect food for a poor family. The Hippie in me said “Right on!” and got all excited about helping this poor family.
“MOM! Can we take some stuff for the food drive at school?” I asked, climbing all over myself with enthusiasm.
“Well, let’s see.” My Mom was a teacher at my school (she taught art…how cool is that?). She had to know this was coming. “We have a can of corn and a box of corn cereal. That’s it.”
And she was right. That was all we had. Payday was coming. But not really as soon as the food was going.
“But, let’s just trust God.” She said this with a beautiful smile spread across her face. “We can always go to Grandma’s for dinner.”
So, we put the can of corn and box of corn cereal (yup, not even the brand name of that one) in a bag. We were trusting God.
That night, after school we did go to my Grandma’s house for dinner. She had cookies…never ending cookies. Just like a Grandmother should.
When we got home and started doing our homework we noticed a huge van pulling up to our house. The doors swung open. Out stepped a few of the teachers from our school. They started unloading boxes upon boxes and bringing them into our home.
The boxes were full of food.
We had no idea that the food drive was for us. We were the poor family. But far more importantly, we were a family that God cared about.
Would we have been blessed by the gifts of our friends even if we hadn’t put forth our contribution? Yes.
Would we have starved to death if we weren’t showered with cans of soup and boxes of jello? No.
Were we blessed with a need so that we could be the recipients of God’s mercy through others? I really think so.
This event shaped my belief in God. It taught me that He cares about the needs of His children.
And yet I still doubt? Yeah. Sometimes. Sometimes I forget that God can possibly love a worm like me. Sometimes I question certain things in the Bible. And every once in a while I wonder if it’s all true.
But in those moments I turn my brain to thinking about the food drive. God really did and does care for us. And you. And me.
>My long time friend Russ has gotten me thinking today. Russ and I grew up in Boyscouts together. Yeah, that’s right…I was in the Boyscouts. I know I’m a girl. Don’t mess with me…I’ll tie you up in a knot, put a splint on your leg and get you lost in the woods.
That’s not the point of this anyway.
Russ wrote on his facebook status about feeling emotions of loss and sadness. And about really experiencing those emotions. And how it’s okay.
Do you even know how hard I have worked my whole life to NOT feel those things? To push the grief down, to put the anger away, to hold the tears in…even when alone. It’s not an easy thing to do. To avoid emotions is unnatural.
So, why do I do it?
Because I want to be strong. I want to be in control of myself. Because I want to prove to everyone else that I can handle all that life can throw at me. Because I am afraid deep down that if I let others see my weakness that they will chalk me up to having a weak faith.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
God created me in His image (and you, for that matter). He created me to feel anger, grief, joy, sadness, laughter, disappointment, etc. And they are His emotions. He has felt all of those things. He knows what my heart feels. He has experienced all that I have.
So, for me to deny myself these aspects of my Creator is the lack of faith. It is me telling Him that I don’t trust how He made me. That I don’t know that He will lead me through those shadows of death and doubt and fear. But when I allow those pieces of me to work I am trusting Him and His purposes for all that I experience.
>Fear is natural. Fear can be good. It tells us when to run away, when to hide, when to scream like a little girl.
Phobias, however, aren’t really the most healthy thing in the world to collect. But I am a phobia hoarder. (Yes! Double Whammies…oh, Whammies aren’t good…poop)
I thought I may as well share them with you. That way you can get a good laugh out of my incredible fear.
1. Refrigerated dough. I really enjoy me a Grands biscuit. I could eat those little fat filled crescent rolls until I…well…roll. But I break into cold sweets when I have to break the can open. It is unpredictable. Sometimes it flops open with no pop, no problem. But other times it explodes, sending dough across the room. It is the noise, yes, that I hate. But what I fear is the possibility that somehow I am going to lose a finger. Or an eye. And all the while the little Dough Boy is pointing and laughing.
2. Sharks. Big sharp teeth. Big bad attitude. Big blind anger. They want to eat me. And I just saw that they can swim up a fresh water river. And then they eat everyone. There is a creek by my house. And I know that they are all secretly planning to inhabit that stream and get me. Stupid Jaws 3-D. You ruined my life.
3. Head Cheese. Seriously. Have you ever seen that stuff? Google it. You will fear it too.
4. Depths. Yeah, I fear heights too…but that’s too common. I’m also afraid of being deep. Deep in the water. Deep in the ground. Deep in slime. Whatever. Because of this fear I do not jump into the water. What if I never came back up? (This fear came from a near drowning when I was very small…it’s legit).
5. Having nothing to say. You’ve been there. You’re with somebody…a coworker, family member, whoever. You completely run out of something to say. And it’s not a very comfy silence. That lull makes me nauseous. That’s why I never stop talking! Problem solved.
FDR once said “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself”.
Oh great…something else to fear.
>I really enjoy shopping. Especially when I can get a great deal.
A t-shirt for $3? It’s mine!
Shoes on 50% off clearance? Move over, lady! I’m gettin‘ them!
And kid’s clothes? Oh…I could buy them all!
There is a thrill to finding a bargain. Some kind of adrenaline courses through the veins when buying something marvelous. A rush of pride when looking through the bags at the end of the day, perusing the newly bought goods.
I remember one day, not very long ago, walking through a mega big store. This particular super market is well know for it’s super duper low prices. And, oh, those prices roll on back. It’s blue (except in Roswell, New Mexico…that one is green like an alien). There is a smiley face at every turn. Huh. I just can’t seem to remember the name…
But that day, walking up and down the aisles of the store I thought to myself “How on earth do they keep these prices so low?”
Well, I found out.
They don’t pay the people who make the items. And if the workers are actually paid, then it is to repay a debt that has been unfairly kept against them. And what they pay their workers is typically not enough to cover living expenses. And they are not in safe environments. And they work far more hours than not. And they use little children to make the t-shirt that I get for so very cheap.
That is how the prices stay so low. It is true and ugly and sad and evil and destroys lives. And just so that my kids can have a pair of shorts that they may wear one time.
I felt horrible. In the words of Julia Ormond (the actress from “Legends of the Fall”…you know I’ve seen that one) in the documentary “Call + Response” “I don’t want to wear someones despair”.
So, I made a decision in a discussion with God. I will no longer purchase clothing for myself or my family unless it is either fair trade or second hand.
The day after I felt that conviction I realized that my kids had very little to wear once the weather warmed.
I went to the Goodwill store a block from my house (I know…that’s pretty nice). They had little to nothing in my kids’ sizes. And it was all for winter. I, however, found 6 outfits for myself to wear when I work (and all for $30!!! And that money doesn’t pay slave drivers!). I counted that blessing and was very, very thankful for it.
Then my friend Dee delivered some hand-me-downs (a full tub) packed with sandals, t-shirts, shorts, etc for my boys to wear. A few days following that my friend Ashley gave me 3 boxes of really amazing clothes that her son no longer used. Some still with tags. And all very, very fun! Then my friend Andee sent some items for my daughter. Also, my friend Wendy sent along 2 big bags of things for Elise.
I say this with much humility…we are completely set for clothes for our kids for the next year or two. Seriously.
This causes me to marvel in the provision of my Father. I stand like a little girl, unable to give enough thanks to the One who sees our hearts and yet loves us.
The song that keeps running through my head is this…
“God will take care of you,
Through every day,
Over all the way!
He will take care of you!
God will take care of you!”
And I no longer worry about my clothes. He is adorning our family in more than the flowers of the field. And we are humbled.
>At this moment I am feeling a tad bit melancholy. There are a few things that are weighing heavily on my spirit and pulling the corners of my mouth down just slightly. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes things don’t go the way we hope. Sometimes it feels as if we are running into walls at every turn.
I know you’d felt that way. I know I’m not alone.
But being an idealist, I want so desperately to look to all the ways that God is good. So I am going to count out five of my blessings. Five is a small number compared to the amazing ways that God has worked in my life. But nap time is nearly over. So, this is what you get today.
1. Jeff. I have such an understanding, adoring husband. And I know that I can trust him. God has given me an encourager, protector, provider and a motivator. And, hey, he’s really hot too.
2. Elise. My daughter is a compassionate little lady. She desires to help others; especially those in need.
3. Austin. My son is singing fool. He loves to sing to Jesus. Especially while doing headstands in bed instead of sleeping. I don’t stop him. It causes me to worship.
4. Timmy. The other half of my combo sons. He is affectionate. Always generous with his hugs for me. His smiles melt my heart. He is my shy child. But that just means I get all the snuggles (yes, I am greedy).
5. Coffee. I know that it sounds kind of insignificant when compared to the first four. But here’s the thing, coffee has been a tool in my life. A tool for waking up, making it through research papers, keeping me from falling asleep on long drives. But it has also been a great way to build relationships. How many times have my friends and I opened our hearts to one another over a cup of joe? More than I can count.
How are you blessed?
>Today I went to the local Super Market for coffee creamer, cheese, 100 calorie cupcakes (thank you, Hostess), pop and diapers. It took me a total of 7.5 minutes to collect those few items in my mini cart (Oh…let me tell you how much I adore the mini carts).
I had one too many items for the express U-scan.
I made a fatal error (no, that is not hyperbole). I went to the No Limit U-scan.
The lady in front of me in line appeared to be nearly done self-scanning. Boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong.
She had 4 cups of yogurt, all with a clearance tag, none of which would scan properly. She had bananas and couldn’t find the code to punch into the screen. She had a t-shirt without a tag. She read each of her bazillion coupons before redeeming them. Her items were overflowing the bagging area. She bagged some items individually. Her order totalled over $340. And she paid in cash. Small bills.
And I was stuck with Heidi Montag’s plastic surgery obsession on one side and the best and worst beach bodies on the other.
I tired not to be obvious, but I was grinding my teeth, near panic attack, white knuckling my beloved mini cart. The cheese turned green and fuzzy, the creamer soured, my babies became potty trained.
This was truly a test of my patience. And I lost.
I wish I could say that I transcended my human nature and offered assistance. I did not. If only I had smiled and thought “Oh, I have no where to be. She can take her time.”
But I didn’t.
I thought about how much of my precious free time she was burning away. I considered bumping her out of the way with my mini cart. I considered eating all the candy bars in the aisle and throwing the wrappers at her. I wished early over riping on her bananas, that the t-shirt would shrink in the wash and that all the clearance yogurt curdled.
Alas. I am not the nice person I wish I could be. But what could have been done?
Just when I get to a point where I think that I’ve arrived to an understanding of living righteously in this life I get pulled down by getting frustrated about trivial things.
So, what do you do? And what would be the right thing to do?
>I am learning something new about myself. Here it is…ready?…
I am a bad blogger.
Jason Boyett (author of “The Pocket Guide to the Bible” and “Oh Me of Little Faith”…seriously, ya’ll, buy it) said this (and I paraphrase) “if you don’t blog everyday, your blog may as well not exist”.
“Le Sigh.” (that was Pepe LePieux)
So, I can add “blogging” to my list of “Susie’s Failures”. Hey…you want to see some of the other things I’m terrible at? Why not. I’m in that kind of a mood.
1. Cleaning. I hate it. I would rather eat brussel sprouts with boogers on top (really, could boogers really make the brussel sprouts worse? I think not.)
2. Staying on task. I get distracted often…HEY! Cookies!
3. (crunch, munch) Eating well. I enjoy crappy food. Chips, chocolate, cheese, cake, chocolate cheesecake, candy, french fries, pizza…ugh. I love it all.
4. Picking out clothes. I really dislike my choice of clothing. But the problem is that I also dislike dressing rooms. So I don’t know that I hate my clothes until I’m home. Oh, and the other problem is that I dislike looking into the full length mirror. So, I don’t know I look like a frumpy sixty year old until I see myself in the mirror section of Target. Crud.
5. Saying certain words. I struggle with “rural” and “family reunion”. They come out as “rrrul” and “family ruin”. It’s embarrassing.
6. Drinking water. If it doesn’t have ground up coffee or high fructose corn syrup in it I don’t want it. Water seems like a rip off to me. Seriously. Where’s the stuff that should be in it?
7. Lotion. Due to my disdain for water, my hands get dry (that’s what my husband tells me…I’m not completely convinced). I forget to lotion up. And when I remember, I just don’t do it. Because I’m lazy.
8. Matching my socks. When folding laundry I don’t pair my socks. When I get dressed I like to be creative and pick out two different socks to wear. After all, I don’t look in the mirror…what do I care?
9. Confrontation. I don’t like it. Unless I should like it. In which case, if it makes you like me…I will like it. Is that okay? I just want you to think I’m cool. I’m sorry.
10. Chatting. It’s awkward. I never know when it’s over. I have no desire to use “brb“, “rotfl” or “lol“…I HATE “lol“. I would love to see “lol” go to it’s own little island and die. lol. Really, are you truly laughing out loud? Or are you, like me, sitting expressionless, looking at the screen and just writing it? And it’s so passive aggressive. “I hate you. lol“. So, do you hate me? Are you joking? Or are you laughing to spite me with your hate? I DON’T know! Die, lol, die, die, die!!! You, lol, are ruining communication as we know it!
Oh, unless you, dear reader like “lol“. Then I like it too. I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad.
Okay, I think I’ve fulfilled my blog for the day. It makes no sense. It is weird. And I’ve burned 20 minutes or so.
Just for you, Jill DeJonge. You’d better read this. lol.
>I want to preface this by saying that I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I don’t really fit into any of the political pigeon holes. That being said…
I am tired, folks. I’m growing weary of the negativity…no…outright hatred that I see toward our President. I know, I know…George W. Bush got the same treatment. That is not my point. I know that some comments might get pretty heated. But, don’t think I’m taking sides. I am not. Read on, dear friend…
It is never appropriate for anyone to pray for the death of anyone. It doesn’t matter if they are good people or bad. And it isn’t a joke. The Lord will take account of every careless word that we speak/write/think.
“Oh, be careful little mouth what you say!”
Additionally, wishing death upon someone, even as a joke, is wrong. If we hate someone in our hearts (which I believe to be a prerequisite to wishing someone dead) we are murdering them. Jesus said that.
I prefer to err on the side of love.
We are called to “Love our neighbors as ourselves,” and to “Love our enemies”. No where in the Scriptures does it allow for us to jokingly or seriously desire death for another.
Obama is a man. He was made in the image of God. And…get this…Jesus died for him too. Because Jesus loves Barack Obama.
So, stop being hateful.
Cut it out. Seriously.
When you say such horrible things about Obama you are wrong. Flat out wrong.
We can only love God as much as we love our worst enemy.
Obama is not my enemy. In fact he has said publically that he is a Christian man. It is not my job to say or believe otherwise. But, because of this I am to consider him my brother in Christ. I will not argue this fact with anyone. It is for God to determine who is His. That is not my job.
My job is to love.
Because I love Jesus, I must love Obama.
And if you love Jesus, you must love Obama too.
>The other day I looked around my house and realized that every single piece of furniture we have is second, third of fourth hand. The piano was purchased at a garage sale. The table and chairs are from my childhood home. The love seat from Mike and Lisa Krauss, the big couch from the Hullahs. The cribs, bed frames, toy box…all used goods. Even our appliances came from the former home owners.
So often in my life I have wanted things. New furniture, new curtains, new clothes. I look at what I have and find a million reasons that it isn’t good enough. There’s a stain on the couch. The washing machine isn’t “high capacity”. The camera kills batteries like no body’s business. At tax refund time I made a list of what we “need” to replace.
I want to buy, use and throw away. I want to be a consumer. And don’t I deserve it?
During my internship in the Dominican Republic I was invited to have dinner at Luis’ house. At the time the Jimenez family lived in a really small, 2 room house. Not 2 bedroom. 2 room. They had a living/dining/family room and a bedroom for all of them to share. No couch. No TV. No piles of toys for the kids. They had to borrow chairs and a card table for us to eat on.
They didn’t gripe about what they lacked. They weren’t embarrassed that they didn’t have more. They were happy for what they had. They felt blessed to have their home.
So often we get entrenched in the idea that we need all kinds of different things. But the reality is that we need very little. And all that we need the Lord provides. But we forget all about that!
We work ourselves silly trying to acquire more. We think that if we can’t have the big flat screen LE…blah blah blah that we aren’t really living. That if our kids aren’t in 100 different activities that we have failed them as parents. That if our church buildings don’t have state of the art sound systems that we can’t really worship God. So we consume…consume…consume.
In the acquisition of things…junk…we have forgotten our worth. And we have forgotten His provision.
Aren’t we more beloved than flowers and birds? Our Heavenly Father takes care of them. What makes us think that He would neglect us…His precious, His children.
>As a 14 year old I wanted nothing more in this world than to be an actress. Somehow I would be discovered while buying candy at 7-11. From there, I would be whisked away to Hollywood where I would instantly be wed to Brad Pitt. After my first feature film the “Academy” would declare all other nominees to be unworthy of an Oscar nod compared to my amazing acting abilities. I would take no less than $20,000 for each film…come on. I was 14. What did I know about money?
In preparation for my life as Mrs. Pitt I took every opportunity to take the stage possible. One such role was that of a chorus member in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Gondoliers”.
Here’s the thing; I was sure I was way too good to just be in the chorus. Everyone made it into the chorus. I had to prove to these people that I was destined for greatness.
Somehow I was given a special part. No lines. No solos. Yet, still special.
During the wedding scene the bride Tessa sings a song.
When a merry maiden marries
Sorrow goes and pleasure tarries…
I was to sway to the song and act like I was happy for this awkward, off key bride.
Every flower is a rose
Every goose becomes a swan…
It was a very, very long song. But I had to wait for my big part until the end.
Worry is melodious mirth
Grief is joy in masquerade…
And finally it was over.
Tessa tossed her bouquet over her head. I was to be the one to catch those flowers. Out of all the chorus girls I was chosen for this important part. Boy, oh boy. This would build my resume.
Each rehearsal I caught the bouquet to perfection. I visualized this choreography constantly. I analyzed my character to insure that I caught them just as she would have. I had my role down pat. I would steal the show.
On the night of the performance I shook off the flittering fluttering butterflies that attacked my guts. Practice had made perfect.
The flowers flew through the air. They flipped end over end over end. And landed on the floor at my feet.
My heart skipped a beat. My face felt flushed. What was I to do?
I remembered one thing…all good actors can recover. So, I bent over, scooped up the bouquet into my hands. Last minute I thought I would raise the flowers over my head and wave them in victory!
Yea! I was getting married next! To Brad Pitt!
But there was one small problem. Well, maybe a big problem. Perhaps the biggest problem I would encounter on the stage.
The stems of the flowers caught the hem of my skirt. Lifting them over head caused my skirt to follow…over…my…head. To the full extent of my arms.
Realizing what had just occurred I lowered the flowers and did the only thing I could think of. I smiled like an idiot and waved.
Thus my most embarrassing moment was born. Many other mortifications befell my life. But I must say, this is the winner.
Tell me about your most embarrassing moment.
The best story gets…um…Brad Pitt.