04/25/14 You Just Never Know…


I had two realizations this week: Cats can fly! Just look at my boy cat Omar, lunkhead and adventure seeker extraordinaire. ūüôā We’re still not quite sure how he got up on our neighbor’s roof!

 

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The second was more of a question.

During dinner with my friend Christine, we talked about places to possibly go for missions trips, in the future. It seems we typically think of third world countries with no running water, an abundance of flies, foul odors and famine; upon hearing the words ‘missions trips’.

In 2014, with the ever increasing problem of heroin addiction that decimates lives in Northern Kentucky and an area of Cincinnati known as Cheviot;¬†a weird thought crossed my mind. I wondered if someday churches might start sending people to Cincinnati and¬†my figurative backyard of Cheviot to spread hope and the love of Jesus? Cincinnati a missionary’s destination? It’s a bit sobering to realize there’s an area of such despair virtually within walking distance.

Maybe I can begin my mission work without packing a bag or setting foot on a plane. Helping out in the soup kitchen at Vineyard Westside Church in Cheviot, my home church, might be a most worthy ‘mission trip’.

I suppose I want to toss the thought out there that there’s probably SOMETHING each of us can do, to make our corner of the world a less suffering place. We don’t have to wait until that far off day in the future to help. The world and its many nooks and crannies needs our help NOW.

Peace.

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12/20/12 G.L.A.D. Holiday Smorgasbord


Queen Porkunia, By Bill Seitz

Queen Porkunia, By Bill Seitz (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

So many things are going on in the world lately, one could be forgiven for wondering if the Mayans might be right! If so, I thought I’d post one more post before the big…. what…. what happens if it IS indeed it? I have no clue. I wasn’t too convinced the end might be near until the Twinkie nightmare (normally sensible people everywhere burst through doors of retail establishments to scarf up every Hostess product in sight, except, it seems, for the Blueberry Muffins. I saw a few boxes of the poor muffins sitting lonely as could be on shelves at Remke Biggs, very near their expiration date.) Another sign that the end might be near? I realized, in a most unexpected way, that I don’t hate myself anymore. I always felt I’d learn to like myself: a) when pigs flew (I’m in Cincinnati, pigs fly here. That was a bad choice of markers!), b) when I was pushing up daisies at the cemetery (meaning, I had died), or c) when the world ended. As I said, pigs DO fly in Cincinnati, I’m still upright and breathing, so the world must surely be nearing that apocalyptic day.

I pondered long and hard about whether to share the next bit with you, not sure if it made me a questionable person, or a repressed woman in a world with few limits anymore. The answer to that still eludes me, but a friend said my story might inspire other souls. My life-changing moment came about a few weeks ago. I wanted to recapture a feeling of freedom I got to experience this summer, freedom from a lot of emotional baggage I’d carried most of my life. This desire led me to question my appearance, avoiding mirrors, body image, those things that some women are doggedly pursued by. I wanted to know what I look like, REALLY look like. Not the image I present to the world of a body covered by whatever black, blue or gray fabric gets pulled out of the closet that day. But ME. The naked truth. I thought about this for days. The part of me that felt this was just bad on my part wrestled with the inner person who questioned, “why?” What was I afraid of? I didn’t know.

One night, I screwed up my courage, uncovered down to the skin I was born with, and looked in a mirror. It’s almost as if I were looking at an exhibit in a museum, observing myself from this angle and that view. I made the surprising discovery that I didn’t have a single negative remark to make about myself. WHAT? No slams about the excess pounds making me a loser, lamenting that I wasn’t a size two, no haranguing that someone who looked like me had nothing worthwhile to offer the world? No. I merely commented, “So this is what I look like.” I think the past few years of embracing my inner squirrely self has taken some of the pressure off of me. It’s given me an ability¬†to embrace my squishy softness that huggers and cats everywhere seem to be attracted to. (Or do the cats just¬†think there’s really a squirrel in there?!)¬† Honestly, it doesn’t get much cuter than my squirrely self, what do¬†you think?

                                               Sue Glamour Squirrel

The interesting result I’ve noticed is that I want to take better care of myself since viewing the real me. It’s not: “Oh, I need to lose a billion pounds, though a loss would be beneficial, I’m sure.” It’s more a case of feeling an acceptance¬†toward myself that I’ve never experienced before and wanting to treat myself like a friend. I go for walks now, eat more sensibly, go to bed earlier, all kind of strange things that people who like themselves do!

The shooting last week in Newtown, Connecticut brought such a sober, harrowing twist to the holiday season. I don’t know why the shooter did it, or why fantastic people meet such an awful fate. I’ve been¬†awed by the acts of heroism the teachers displayed at Sandy Hook Elementary. I’ve been blessed by all of the good that has poured forth in this nation and from around the world in our country’s time of sorrow. I pray that blessings rain down on the people of Newtown.

Christmas is upon us. I’ve had a real mixed bag of thoughts this year. Money is tighter than ever, which rules out¬†giving cash to a variety of good causes. My energy level hasn’t been up to snuff in ages, so giving my time isn’t happening as much. I’ve kept my holiday projects a little closer to home and am focusing on people I hope can use a little love. Sometimes I question if I’m following the right path or not, but my current actions feel right for this day. My goal continues to be to show Jesus’ love to everyone I encounter as I celebrate His birth. Some days I feel as if I do that so poorly, those days when a rabid pit bull is cheerier than I am. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is pretty¬†amazing about weaving some calming presence into my soul and my attitude straightens out again for another day.

I hope my blog has added a bit of light to your week, a little humor with your coffee or an insight that helps your day. Every single one of you reading this are a warm blessing to me.

Blessings and Peace¬† ūüôā

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

11/25/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles Week 8 – Reunions, God’s Presence, Life’s Presents


Cousins Kevin and Hayley
November 23, 2012

What an unexpected turn in the road my life has taken in the past few weeks. It started with a text from someone I hadn’t heard from in quite a while. At the time, the text annoyed me, because it caused a slight chink in the invisible wall I’d taken great¬†effort to put all around me to keep out pain. I considered the text and¬†answered¬†as politely as¬†possible. The person texted back. Really? Are we¬†seriously going to go to that invisible place where I have to decide if I’m going to risk letting hurt and rejection in again? I truly didn’t want to. I more honestly wanted to scream at this person to leave me alone, I was having a hard enough time balancing the fa√ßade I tried to keep in place that showed everything is just peachy keen. She kept texting. Tenacious woman, I’ll give her that. I wouldn’t capitulate, but I left the door to my emotions open very slightly.

The next day led to more texts, from another female. That part of the¬†wall dedicated to her crumbled a little, but certainly not entirely. I have become way too wary about humans to believe things can work themselves out that easily. Over the next few days, we texted and got to know each other a little better. This was a great way for me to communicate. I didn’t feel the pressure¬†I can feel speaking on a phone. And I don’t tend to put my foot in my mouth so much. I felt a little light streaming into my heart where it’d been pretty dark for the past few years.

The calendar¬†indicated Thanksgiving week was approaching. I could probably never adequately explain the vortex of confusion I feel every year beginning shortly before Thanksgiving and ending around January 2nd. Melancholy, missing those who have passed away or are gone from my life, the endless effort to seek the spiritual and divine meaning of the holidays, the sad observations of how ugly some people can get at this time of year when we’re supposed to celebrate love, the retailers never-ending campaign to reach into my pockets for money I don’t have and don’t care to use a credit card so I can pretend I do. Lastly, well-meaning people putting their hand out to take some of that same non-existent money to further some holiday campaign.

This year, I continue to say ‘no’ to the things that make me unhappy about the holidays, and my focus is on spreading some love to people who typically get ignored. They’re not poverty level, they’re the working poor. People who work incredibly hard at their jobs, but just don’t make enough to do much more than keep the heat and lights on and gas in the car. It is brilliantly fun to see the smile on¬†a waitress’ face when I leave a possibly extravagant tip, as I listen to her story of working two jobs and being on her feet all day. I don’t just leave the tip, I give my time and listen to their story, express appreciation for their great¬†work and kindness. Some of the time, you can see these people don’t hear nearly often enough that they’re appreciated. The feeling I get doing so is simply priceless.

I got a chance to visit with my great-niece Hayley and her family this week. What a gift this was to me! We had the most delicious lunch at Waffle House, went to see “Wreck It Ralph” at the cinema and did a little Christmas shopping at WalMart. I had the best time, and that flipping waffle was so unbelievably good. I bought a coffee cup from Waffle House to remember the day by! I haven’t seen Hayley recently, as they live out-of-town. It’s a joy to see what an interesting and wonderful human this girl is evolving into. I have to give a high-five¬†to her folks, they’re doing a great job. The visit put a warmth into my holidays that has¬†lacked a little.

I also got to enjoy a very nice Thanksgiving¬†day with my family at home. I’ve decided the only thing that even remotely competes with my enjoyment of¬†a Robert Downey, Jr. movie is a fragrant Honeybaked¬†ham warming in my oven! Both cause copious drooling!¬†I spent the evening enjoying conversation with family members at my brother Jon’s house. Previous years found the group gathering around the table a little larger in number. Some have passed on, others had different destinations this year. I found it one of the nicest times I can remember.

I’ve so strongly felt God everywhere I’ve been. He’s there when I’ve acted like a decent human. Unfortunately, he could see me when I was meaner than a junkyard dog! His unwavering presence is my greatest present of all, this holiday season. I hope to show more of His love as I celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Whatever you may or may not celebrate over the next few weeks, I wish you the best blessings, love and light.

Peace!

10/21/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles – Week 3 Perception, For A Person With Depression


I’m afraid a cheerful post isn’t in the cards for this week. I can’t write fiction. Life this week has felt like Rod Serling came back from the grave and used me for an episode of “Twilight Zone“. Things started out normally. I made use of my new inhaler and cheerfully walked a bit, ate sensibly, got to bed at a decent time and felt pretty darn good.

Circumstances took an invisible dip on Wednesday. A coworker decided to retire and a retirement luncheon went on at work¬†that day. The Chief paid a visit for the luncheon and I exchanged a few pleasant words with him. After a time, being around humans was starting to get to me, and I went back to my office to make a cup of coffee and get back to work. If this were a movie set, you would have seen a villanous fog start to seep in under the door. My mood started to plummet and I couldn’t do much besides sit back and watch it. I wondered if the Chief were going to talk to my Captain and tell him to fire me. I wondered if the higher-ups were putting their heads together and deciding what to do with a complete incompetent like me. I wondered all kind of no-ending-but-bad things. Before too long, I thought about going in and giving my notice. Thankfully, common sense managed to keep me in my office, but the week went nowhere but downhill from there.

I write this to let you view a tiny part of what goes on in a person’s mind who has depression. I don’t always know WHY an episode starts. All I can tell you is that within a few days, I wasn’t sure what the merits of being alive were. It’s not that I felt like ending my life. It’s that I couldn’t come up with a convincing argument that life is worth all the hassle sometimes. Life is HARD. It would be so easy to not go to work everyday, to not pay my bills and let someone else pick up the tab. I began to wonder why it’s so important to me to do the right thing. Living right is EXHAUSTING. Or so it felt this week. The merits of life and death got a little mixed up for me. Life is hard, death is heaven and being with God. I don’t necessarily want to go there today, but I very much look forward to being with my Heavenly Father, Jesus, and all of my loved ones who are already there… someday.

I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m losing my temper a lot lately, yelling like a rabid politician who’s seeing their poll numbers drop. And I don’t approve that message of how to conduct myself.¬†Growing up¬†with a dad who yelled more than he didn’t, I know he loved me, but man, could the guy make me shiver in my shoes when he was on a roll. I swore I’d never be that person. How I hate it when I am.

I didn’t go to church today. My still-twisted thinking decided I’d have to miss about three months of Sundays before anyone would notice, and I went back to bed. I’d show them. I don’t know if anyone noticed or not, but I felt like a jackininny when I started to put two and two together and realize what a load of bunk I’ve been falling for the past few days. I did what any sensible person does who’s having a mental and spiritual crisis. I went on Facebook and asked my friends for prayer. All I know is that I felt an immediate need for divine help and in 2012, Facebook is quicker than telephoning a dozen people.

I can’t say that I’m feeling la-di-dah wonderful now, but the pros and cons of death look a lot clearer and I feel the divine strength and ability to go a few more rounds with this thing called ‘life’. Oh, and I’m pleased to report that I’m making great progress on the decluttering project in my Sanity Room. I’ve cleared the way enough to get back to having coffee with God in the mornings. My wonderful minister, Ryan, lent me a Bible called the Serendipity Bible. I’ve got it ready for the morning and will get my backside to bed on time tonight, come hell or high water, so that I can get up and start¬†the day with my Creator… and Folger’s in my cup!

 

12/23/11 My Christmas Wish For You


Christmas cards with angels, scandinavian “nis...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been such a busy time. I’ve noticed that the things I didn’t get around to in the past few years are the same things I didn’t get to this year either.

Sending out Christmas cards.

I even went so far as to put the cards I bought last year out on my dining room table (among¬†the temporary home of the Polar Express set¬†at¬†the North Pole, courtesy of my son.) I looked at the bag nearly every night. I passed the bag often¬†on my way to: working for a living, working on Christmas gifts for my elderly friends, writing poetry, journaling, breathing, watching Christmas films with my family and endless episodes of “Antiques Roadshow”. My husband is a bit addicted to the show! Alas, the bag didn’t get put into use. Maybe next year.

Losing X number of pounds by Christmas.

Nope, didn’t get that accomplished either. I gave that one a lot more thought and even an infrequent effort or two. Alas, I am still my soft, squishy self and the cats continue to love sleeping on my cushiony softness. In my next life, I would make a great role of toilet tissue. ūüôā

Learn to stop getting annoyed at a second’s notice and popping my cork.

Well, I’m still menopausal, so I don’t really suppose this one is a realistic hope until that phase of my life is finished. How much it’s got to do with it, I’m not sure, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Actually, if I really think about it, I have probably made a wee bit of progress in this area. Or I’m deluding myself and I’m still a nasty old bat!

Have my life all together and be the picture of total contentment.

I’m sorry, I was so busy laughing at the notion of this last one that I forgot to keep typing. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I breathe on this earth, I’m going to remain a human and continue making mistakes at the rate of about 1,000 per day. The good news is: God has my back and He’s nowhere as clueless as I am!

Remember to send out Christmas greetings on time.

Hey, wait, I AM wishing my dear friends a Merry Christmas on time! You CAN teach an old cat lady new tricks. Yay, there may be hope for me yet! ūüôā

My Christmas wish for you is that whoever you are, whatever you believe, and wherever you are in life at this time; I wish for you a very Merry Christmas, peace in your heart, discernment for God’s will in your life, family and true friends to support you and cushion the ride when life gets bumpy. And it will. As long as you’re breathing and taking up space on this planet, it will. But just like for me, God’s got your back if you let Him.

Now THAT’S an awesome thought at Christmastime.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

& Blessings to you!

 

 

12/14/11 Christmastime Hues


Some love this time of year
Anticipate it with golden joy
Be it pretty lights, family and friends
Or the birth of God’s little boy.

Others views aren’t quite so rosy
It’s the hardest time of year
No Hallmark family Christmas for them
Blue Christmas, not a whiff of cheer.

Then there are the ones, they feel some of both
Make it their quest to bring hope and love
Melancholy gray tries to swallow them up
They cling to God their Father above.

They miss the loved ones no longer here
Times from the past, now just a memory
Traditions, laughter, feeling connected
Waiting… to see what this Christmas will be.

11/14/11 A Few of My Favorite Holiday Things. What Are Yours?


A Charlie Brown Christmas
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good evening friends. I sat down to write and couldn’t come up with a topic. After visiting various sites offering writing prompts and blog prompts, I still don’t! Wow, makes you feel like investing your time in whatever comes next, doesn’t it? I enjoy poetry prompts – they’re concise and specific. But writing prompts are sort of goofy. They suggest topics I don’t want to read about, I’m guessing you may not either.

The holidays are approaching. Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. That could provide a boatload of topics to blog about. “In search of the perfect pumpkin pie.” (Frisch’s continues to win that¬†for me.) My favorite cartoons of the year air: “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A¬†Charlie Brown¬†Christmas.” The all time best holiday movie: “Christmas Vacation” I admit that this being my favorite¬†Christmas movie probably sets me up for: “If “Christmas Vacation” is your idea of a holiday classic… YOU might be a redneck!”

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Image via Wikipedia

One might think with me being an unabashed follower of Jesus that I would love Christmas. I DO love the part of Christmas that celebrates His birth. 

I love getting a card or letter in the mail during the holidays that includes a snippet of what’s going on in someone’s life.¬†Thinking about it, I’d¬†relish¬†receiving a card someone made from construction¬†or notebook paper¬†and a colorful pen with¬†a few lines about how they and their family are doing. How many times have you went to the store (okay, this is only for the women¬†reading this. I think I hear my brother Jon falling off of his chair laughing at the¬†idea of going to the store and looking at greeting cards! Point taken.) and spent quite awhile trying to pick out the perfect card? I could retire on the pile of¬†$$$ if I had a dollar for every time I spent an hour or more looking for the perfect card, then went home and left them in the bag, never¬†addressed or sent, because I was just too busy with all the other pressures I put on myself during the holidays… or used to, in the past. The past few years, I don’t think I even bothered to look for cards. I happily joined the chorus of “postage is just so expensive”. Really? 44 cents to haul your sorry¬†envelope across the country and deliver it in rain, sleet or snow is a lot of money?

Presents. I like buying things for my husband and son, some treats for the cats and dwarf hamster (I would love to find Chow a stripper costume since she loves to cavort in her cage like a pole dancer, but that’s another story for another time!) I like to bake and¬†create things. Unfortunately, I only know one crochet stitch, so if you want a handmade item, I’m up for a scarf or afghan. Anything fancier than that and I’m lost! The present I’m seeking to give this year is of myself. My time. Maybe phone friends here and there, write a few notes, visit folks who don’t get much company.

There’s one present I ask for and no one ever buys it for me. Yellow legal pads. Why do people find that so odd? I love to write on yellow legal pads. I don’t know why. The specific color and bold lines on the paper appeal to my eye and writing pen. I can almost bet I’ll get a candle or some good smelling object from Bath and Body this year, but no yellow legal pad will make it into my Christmas stocking. ūüė¶¬†¬†¬† Maybe I’m missing the point that I’ve been a rotten brat and Santa has no intention of putting the desired legal pad in my stocking? I’ll have to ponder that! Maybe point number two is that I’ve gotten rather odoriferous and don’t know it, hence the constant receiving of sweetly perfumed objects. Oh dear! ūüôā

Sometimes my husband and son¬†are¬†notorious “present shakers”. I am¬†equally notorious for putting decoy tags on their gifts or no tags at all (writing in code on the box). It is truly entertaining to see them try to figure out what the gift is and think they’ve narrowed it down, only to have me switch the tags to their rightful presents on Christmas Eve!

My favorite New Year’s Eve tradition for some time was to telephone¬†a friend of mine in England at 7:00 p.m. my time.

She would open her back door and I could hear Big Ben chiming in the New Year.

@big ben
Image by shashish via Flickr

Ah, the simple things that make me giddy!

¬†I would like to hear about favorite holiday things of yours, whether it’s memories or traditions.

Or when the holidays are over!

Blessings!

10/15/11 What Images Does The Word Prayer Convey To You?


Prayer
Image by mojoey via Flickr

I started to write this post about the week I’ve had and how it ended with me resorting to prayer and soul searching. In doing so, I looked at the picture gallery for a photo to go with it. What an illuminating experience that turned out to be. Putting search words in such as “prayer”, “‘praying”, “prayerful” produced many photos of people praying, but it was interesting to me that they all appeared to live on the other side of the world. Then there were the multitude of photos showing statues, buildings, candles and flames, centuries-old paintings of pious people looking¬†serenely toward Heaven.

 

 

I didn’t see any photos that looked remotely like me. Or resembled the settings I usually pray in.
Which got me to wondering? Where do you pray and how do you look when you do so?
Are you on your knees with head bowed? Standing? Hands clasped? Is it a prayer of your own words or is it a corporate prayer said in unison with the rest of your church? What images come to your mind when the word “prayer” is mentioned? Is prayer something that brings you closer to God? Or do you shy away from it, fearing you may not know how to pray correctly or that you won’t know what to say?
There are no right or wrong answers. I can share with you that I am a person who prays often. Some prayers are quick, some are whispered when I’m looking for strength or self restraint. Praying for others does not come naturally to me. I honestly will pray for folks or situations if I tell them I will, but I’m afraid I don’t seem to go beyond the basics with it; though I think I’m getting more comfortable with it as time goes on.
I remember feeling absolute mortal TERROR whenever I thought someone might ask me to pray out loud in a group. ME?? Miss Never At A Loss For Words would suddenly be struck dumb at the fearful notion that people would discover what a crappy job I did at praying aloud. As if there was some sort of score card to give me a grade on how I did….. did I hit the right note, sound holy enough, say “Lord” enough times. Do you see some of the ways I waste my mental minutes on Earth?
I chose the photo in this post because in the end, I do a lot of praying in my car. And no, it’s not, “Holy Crap, did you see that?” or “Jesus, Take the Wheel”.¬† I pray for grace, mercy and the ability to go through the day not being a total schmuck to everyone I encounter. When I’m feeling scared, lonely, or in some kind of crazy wicked pain, my car is where I rant and rave to God, asking Him to help me make sense of it all.
My favorite places to pray are in my quiet room at home, with the windows open so that I can hear the birds. I imagine God’s there with me, sharing a cup of coffee. I love to pray in nature settings. I pray while I’m doing dishes, looking out my kitchen window at the woods behind my house.¬† I try to remember to say prayers of gratitude for enjoying more blessngs than any one person deserves. I pray in the bathroom at work, thanking God for a job I love and where I get to be myself. That is such a luxury. ūüôā
Oddly enough, I don’t seem to pray so well at church. It’s like, my mind knows I’m supposed to be praying, so my brain wanders all over the planet. If I haven’t eaten, I listen to my stomach rumble. If I’ve been drinking coffee, I ruminate on how awful my breath probably is and I pop a piece of gum in, before the service is over, so that I don’t knock anyone over if they come up to speak to me after church. I am not proud to admit this. I see the most amazing prayer warriors at my church, Vineyard Westside. These lovely people make themselves available up front after each service for anyone desiring or needing prayer. I ventured up there tonight. I don’t like to ask for prayer, as I imagine that what I want prayer for will sound silly or worse yet, people will find out my life is not perfect. What a dope I can be. It was so comforting to share my request with two of the ladies and have them pray for me. I cried like a baby. I think I was crying on the outside. I had my eyes closed. I know I was weeping on the inside. Maybe some of it is just being willing to be vulnerable and ask for help. Afterward, I felt such a peace that has been eluding me lately.
I would love to hear about your thoughts on prayer and the images that word brings to mind.