Thursday, December 16, 2010


Joseph Nicholas Weninger was my grandpa. My mom's dad. And the last few days we've been mourning his death and celebrating his life.

It's been so good to talk with my family about things we remember. I remember my grandpa and his overalls, and how he always had Tootsie Rolls for the grandkids. I remember sitting on his lap, and he'd hold my hands and clap them together, then he'd force my hands to miss, and he'd ask me, "Why'd you miss?" He loved to crack jokes and tease us, and I loved how he made Grandma laugh.

Grandpa was a fantastic game player. He played Cribbage all the time with my uncles. I've played Rummikub with him many, many times, and he had moves that were far beyond me. More than once he would take his first turn and lay out all of his tiles in one move, sometimes before I even had a turn! I loved playing Rummy Royale at the kitchen table. We're so competitive when we play cards, but we all have fun no matter how we're doing.

When I was a junior in high school, I got the part of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. Grandma and Grandpa came to see one of the performances. I know they probably couldn't hear it very well, and they might not have really understood what was going on, but the fact that they drove more than an hour just to see my play meant so much to me.

Grandpa always drank water out of a jar with a handle. He loved to do crossword puzzles, and he loved to fish. I was amazed at some of the pictures I saw, because he caught some gigantic fish! He also had a saying: "It's better than ice cream!" It didn't matter what food was in question, or that I was a picky eater. It was always "better than ice cream."

I loved watching Grandma and Grandpa together. They were so sweet to each other. They raised 12 children together and had a long life together. They loved each other so much, even after more than 60 years of being married. They took care of each other. Grandpa constantly referred to Grandma as his bride, and I loved watching the little things they did for each other.

My grandpa was in the army in WW2. He served for two years, and I was so proud that his funeral reflected that. He was a dashing figure in his uniform. There's a lot of politics surrounding the army today, and people have really strong opinions about where our troops are and what they're fighting for. I don't always know how I feel about that, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am so proud and thankful that Grandpa served.

I'm going to really miss Grandpa. He was a wonderful man, and he gave me a wonderful family that I love very much.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Periodic Update

November has been a crazy month. It's been a time of adjusting my life around working full-time. I'm still working out the kinks of not having much down time during the week, but having longer weekends definitely helps.

I love my job. I was really nervous the first week, a little nervous the second week, and not nervous at all last week. I'm really comfortable using the dental software (I'm a receptionist at a dental office), and my comfort level at being on the phone has gone way up. I really like my coworkers, and I'm getting into the groove of things.

Right now I'm visiting my parents for the long weekend. I have to work the day after Thanksgiving, so I can't travel to be with family for the actual holiday. I decided to make the most of my Friday off and spend take this weekend as my holiday visit. Christmas will be spent with my dad's family, and I'm really excited about that.

Time is a funny thing. I felt like I had too much time, that I didn't use my time well when I didn't have a job. Now that I'm working full time, I never seem to have enough time during the week. I don't journal as much, I clearly haven't been blogging as much, and I have a hard time finding time and energy to get in some exercise during the week. Even though I have less time for myself, I feel happier. Getting a job didn't magically solve all my problems, and I still need to be on a tight budget, but I don't have to let those things determine the state of my inner peace. I still have to trust every day that God will provide for my needs, and I still need to make it a priority to spend some time focused on God every day.

I like my life right now. For the most part, I like who I am, or at least who I'm becoming. I like working hard, paying my bills, and making responsible, grown up decisions. It's not such a bad phase of life to be in. :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some thoughts on Christianity using Harry Potter Similies

Describing Christianity using Harry Potter? Bear with me, because if you've read Harry Potter, what I'm about to say will totally make sense. I was reading some Harry Potter, and all of a sudden these comparisons popped into my head.

Harry was 11 years old when he found out about magic. When he entered into Diagon Alley/the wizarding world for the first time, he was amazed. He was constantly in awe of things that most wizards took for granted. His friend Ron grew up in a wizard house, and magic was old hat for him. Ron knew how daily life works in the magic world. What Harry saw as amazing, Ron just took for granted as business as usual. People who have just become Christians are like Harry. God is new to them, and they're often super excited about church and the Bible and God in general. People who grew up in a Christian home, or who have been saved for years tend to lose that initial spark. They take a lot for granted. I take for granted all the Bible verses I learned as a kid. Because I grew up in the church, I have lots of general Bible knowledge that new Christians don't know yet.

Christians can be like Harry Potter in another way. Wizards who grew up in the wizarding world constantly stand out like a sore thumb in the muggle/nonmagical world. They don't know how to dress, they don't know how muggle money works, and things like electricity and telephones are complete mysteries. Once muggle born wizards (wizards with non-magical parents) are in the wizarding world for awhile, they can move easily between worlds. There are people who are so immersed in Christian culture, who are so separate from the world, that they stick out. They can't navigate in the secular world, and sometimes they look like freaks. I've known people like this, and as a kid I was terrified of being one of those outsiders. New Christians can have the opposite problem, where they don't understand the Christianese lingo and have not yet completely shed all of their sinful ways.

We hear all the time that we are to be IN the world, but not OF the world. It's a tough balance. We don't want to be indistinguishable from people who are not Christians, but we don't want to be so different as to be unapproachable. I haven't figured out where I draw the line for myself. It would almost be easier to just seclude myself from all media and limit my social interactions with non-Christians. Maybe some people are called to a life that strict, but I know I'm not. I think too many Christians think they've figured out the one-size-fits-all solution to this. I don't think there is such a solution. I think we need to use common sense, listen to Christians we trust, pray about it, and listen to your own convictions. I have a hard time not judging people that I think are unnecessarily stricter than I am, or who are less strict than I am. I tend to want people to be just like me, but that's wrong. Everyone is different, and I think it's really important that we try to respect people's choices about things on which the Bible is not specific.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

God's Goodness

God is good. Today I got offered a job that I really wanted, and after 5+ months of unemployment it feels so amazing. It's really easy to say that God is good after I get news like this. So I emailed my friends and family about the job, I told them that God is good, and I prayed and thanked God.

As I was praying, I realized that God is always good. I prayed, "God, you are so good. Thank you so much for this job. But you would be good even if I hadn't gotten it." God is good no matter what our circumstances are. It's easier for me to believe in his goodness when I feel good, when I get good news. It's a lot harder for me to see God's goodness when I'm feeling depressed, lonely, and hopeless. God isn't fickle. He doesn't choose to be good some times and other times choose not to be. Yes, his goodness runs alongside his justice and mercy, so it's hard to understand sometimes why bad things happen in life, but he is still good.

God is good. God is love. And he will always be those things no matter what your life looks like.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Questions

Do you see me? Do you like what you see?

Someone told me today that those are two questions we keep asking people throughout our lives. I definitely agree. From the kid who constantly yells, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" to the teenager trying on outfits who asks, "How do I look?" to the employee who works really hard on a presentation that the boss will see.

We want to matter. We want people to like us, to treat us as if we have worth. We want people to appreciate who we are.

Feeling invisible is a pretty awful thing. Just as awful is having people notice you, but only because they have negative things to say about you. That's why the silent treatment and getting bullied feel awful. It's terrible to not have people care how you're feeling. "How's it going?" has become just another way to say "Hello." That really bothers me. So much so that I make a concentrated effort not to use that phrase unless I want a real answer and am prepared to really listen. There have been numerous times in my life when I was feeling horrible inside, and as people passed me by, my answer was always, "I'm fine" because I knew they didn't want a real answer.

Let's try to pay some attention to the people around us. Practice your listening skills. Or maybe it's your turn to be heard. Open up to someone you trust about how you're really doing. Find someone who sees you, who appreciates who you are and loves you for it. I read today that we don't love people for how we feel about them; we love them for how they make us feel about ourselves. I love to be around people who tell me I'm worth something, who show it by their actions. I think if we all tried to be more aware of the people around us and how they're feeling, there would be fewer people hurting in our homes, in the church, in our schools, in the world.

When You Can't Forget the Bad

How do you acknowledge life-changing events? If they're good, it's great to celebrate. We celebrate birthdays every year. We celebrate marriage anniversaries. We enjoy annual things, like Christmas, and the last day of school (or first, if you're so inclined). Holidays can be great.

So what do you do when the anniversary of something bad comes up? People acknowledge anniversaries of the death of loved ones in different ways. For something like that, I have spent time by myself in quiet reflection. There have also been times when I am with people and we share memories of the people we love. Remembering those people is important.

I am, however, upon a week of bad memories for which there is no precedent on handling. Life-changing bad memories. I've taken time to think about all the good changes that have happened since then, to appreciate the good things in my life right now. But it still hurts. I don't just forget the way people treated me, spoke to me, how I felt, what happened. I still feel those things when I think about it.

The thing is, I don't want to forget. Not really. It's a significant time in my life. For better or for worse, it's shaped who I am.

I just wish it didn't hurt or make me doubt myself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Strange Prayers

I have a mouse loose in my apartment. It's the second time I've have a mouse show up, although the first time it either just went away or died somewhere else, because it never got caught in my glue traps. About two weeks ago I did a more thorough than usual cleaning of my apartment, and I threw out the glue traps I had been provided. Of course as soon as I got rid of them I get a mouse. Sigh.

I bought some basic, old school mouse traps today (the nicer ones are ridiculously expensive), and I set all four of them up with peanut butter. I was pretty sure there was a mouse in my apartment, because late at night I would see a shadow move out of the corner of my eye. Tonight I have seen the mouse for sure run from under the oven to my shoe closet to under my fridge and back. I think right now it ran into my bathroom. I have watched it run towards one of the mousetraps and then veer away at the last second. Grrrr.

And so I find myself praying that the mouse would take the bait and get caught in one of my traps. I find it kind of odd that I'm praying for the death of a creature that God created. Of course, I remind God that this is my house and I did not invite a mouse to live here.

Right now I have one light on, right next to my bed. The mouse tried to make a break for it from under the fridge twice, but as soon as I waved my arm it got scared and ran back. I also threw a small lotion bottle at it, and I have a highlighter in my lap, ready to throw upon another sighting.

I'm not super bothered by a mouse in my apartment. Sure, I wish it wasn't here because I only have a studio apartment so any mouse is pretty close to where I sleep, but I'm assuming it will stay pretty close to the kitchen area. I'm hoping, anyway.

Usually my prayers revolve around asking God to let my life go in a certain direction, or just praying for a closer relationship with God. I certainly pray for my unsaved friends, and I pray for the needs of my family, like a job for my sister. So it feels kind of weird to pray about a mouse. Good thing I pray to a God who cares about me, who loves me, who listens to my prayers, even when it's just about a mouse.

Yes, I miss my cat a lot right now. In addition to being a constant companion and a super friendly cat, he definitely earned his keep when it came to mouse control.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Night Sounds

I love having my window open at night. In addition to having my apartment cool off, I love the night sounds that come through.

I can tell the different types of vehicles that go by just from the sound. I can tell when a fire truck is headed somewhere, and I can tell when one whooshes past without its sirens on. I love the sound after it has rained, because the car tires make a different sound.

I love hearing a train rumble by, or hearing the church bells toll at the hour. Right now I can tell when someone is walking across the yard because the leaves are crunchy.

I love that I can learn so much by using just one of my senses. If only I was better at listening in other situations...:)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Forgiveness and Consequences

Last night I read the story of David and Bathsheba (side note: spell check knows I spelled Bathsheba correctly, surprise surprise!). I've heard so many different sermons highlighting different aspects of that story. There really are so many things we can learn from this part of David's story.

When I read it this time, I saw something I had overlooked before. David and Bathsheba have sinned together, and David has sinned additionally by having Bathsheba's husband killed. Their son is born, and then Nathan confronts David about David's sin. David repents, and Nathan says that God forgives David.

OK. This is huge. David fasts and prays while his son is sick. He begs God to spare his son. But the baby dies. And as soon as this happens, David gets up, washes himself, puts on clean clothes, and goes and worships God. Woah. How often do we get really angry at God when tragedy happens in our lives? I've done it a lot. It sounds like David was not bitter at all. I think he realized the consequence of his sin, and he didn't hold it against God.

The other thing is that although God forgave David completely, that didn't remove the consequence. That point is made a lot, that God's forgiveness doesn't take away consequences. We hear it all the time. But I think it's also really important to note that God did not punish David continually; God didn't hold David's sin against him later. David and Bathsheba have another son. You might have heard of him--Solomon? And it says that God loved Solomon. God doesn't withhold love after we sin. He doesn't sit up in heaven, waiting to blast us for that sin we did three years ago. That's majorly comforting to me, to see so clearly in the Bible (the Old Testament, to boot!) about God's forgiveness, redemption, and restoration.

On Feeling Entitled

I feel entitled to a wonderful fall. I grew up in WI, and I live in MN now (that's Wisconsin and Minnesota, in case you're not up to date on your state abbreviations). Upper midwest, four distinct seasons. Tons of snow in the winter, hot days in the summer, cool wet days in the spring, and cool, crisp days in fall.

Except I am not getting my coveted cool, crisp days of fall. It's 82 degrees right now, and we're supposed to hit a record today. My apartment feels nice and cool because I've been sleeping with my window open and closing it before it warms up in the morning. I walked outside to run to the post office and library (places I go at least twice a week), and it was so disappointing to feel how hot it was outside. I drove by some gorgeous trees that I want to photograph, that I've actually been wanting to capture since I saw them last fall, but I just don't have the energy to go back there and take photos because it's so warm. Yes, it feels much cooler than it did in July or August because it's way less humid, but it's still too warm for me.

Why do I feel so entitled to my version of a perfect fall? Is it realistic? Why do I think it's not fair if it's warmer than usual? Sigh. I don't like being really crabby about the weather, especially when so many of my friends are thrilled about the weather, according to their Facebook status updates. I think I need to suck it up and do my best to enjoy the color, even if I feel too warm doing it.

But I still can't see myself going to an apple orchard tomorrow when it's 80 degrees. Gotta draw the line somewhere, hm? :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God in our Culture

I watch a lot of TV. I've always watched a lot of TV. As a kid who was homeschooled, I had a LOT of free time, which I filled with books and TV. Same thing now. I'm unemployed, and I have a lot of free time. So I read a lot and watch a lot of TV.

I've been watching Glee since it started. I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to continue watching it because I didn't like how the show handled some characters' choices, but I decided to keep watching and see where it went. I am really proud about how they presented the subject matter of last night's show. Talking about faith and spirituality in such a public way can go really badly. It's not hard to really offend someone when it comes to talking about God.

I think what I appreciated the most is that Glee showed a very real look at how a lot of people feel about God. I have a lot of friends who don't believe in God for a lot of the same reasons the characters in Glee questioned God's existence. I have gay friends who don't understand how a loving God could create a human being with a same-sex attraction and then say it's a sin. I've prayed really hard for people that have then passed away. It's true that "the big questions are big for a reason."

I don't have all the answers, and I respect people's right to believe whatever they want. If they want to believe in a different god or none at all, I believe that they are perfectly within their rights to do so. I also believe that it's my right to believe that Jesus is the son of God and the only way to heaven.

When I pray for my friends (and I do pray for my friends, Christian or not), I don't pray for them to give up this sin or that. I have lots of my own sin problems, and who am I to impose Christian standards on someone who doesn't profess to be a Christian? I pray that my friends would have an encounter with God and his love that is life-changing. I think love is the key. I've struggled for a long time with how to love people who are different than me, who believe differently, who behave in ways I don't agree with. I am imperfect, and I love imperfectly. God's love isn't limited like mine is.

Yes, God is perfect and because he loves us there is a certain order in which he created the world to work, but he doesn't love only the perfect people. There wouldn't be anyone to love, if that were the case. Something I've been told by a lot of my friends at church (something I need to hear often) is that God loves us right where we're at. I've spent entire years of my life where my only communication with God was to either tell him how angry I was, how hurt I was, or how scared I was. Sometimes that's still how my prayers look.

I know what it is to hurt so badly you think the only answer might be to kill yourself. I've battled depression, and I've even had two hospital inpatient stays. I know pain. But I also know that there's hope. Maybe you don't understand, but there is so much hope in Jesus, in his love. It is my most sincere hope and prayer that if you're reading this, that you'll experience that love in the depths of your being.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's the Little Things

Sitting in my apartment on this gorgeous fall day, I realize that it's the little things that make me happy. Like the fall sunshine coming through the yellow leaves into my window. Like the fun new socks I bought for $1 each. Like eating string cheese while watching TV and putting together a puzzle.

My life isn't perfect. There are lots of things I wish were different. So I'm glad I can find joy in the small things. I'm feeling particularly content today, and I just wanted to make a note of it. :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sectioning off who you are

I have different categories of friends. Friends from high school, friends from college, friends from church. My friends have known me in different times of my life. I've had theatre friends, floormate friends, Spanish Club friends. Generally friendships are formed based on common interests. Isn't that what you do with your friends? You get together and do something you both enjoy.

I hate having to wall off part of who I am when I'm around some people. I'm not talking about when you decide not to disclose all of your deepest, darkest secrets with a friend you've only known a short while. In my case I'm talking about my faith. I went to a Christian college, so my college friends and I share the same basic faith. My church friends and I share the same basic faith. But when it comes to friends from high school, or maybe people at work, my faith is something that I feel I have to hide.

My friends have always respected me to my face. They've never said I was stupid for believing in God. They've never accused me to my face of being judgmental. I have a deep fear that if I was honest about my beliefs on certain things, some people would no longer be my friend. In high school, I was afraid of losing the only friends I had, of losing a life that I'd never had before and was desperate not to lose. Now that I have a wider circle of friends, I'm not as afraid of losing my friends. What I'm afraid of is of saying or doing something that would offend them so much that they wouldn't be open to anything having to do with God at all.

Not all of my beliefs are politically correct. Actually, most of them probably aren't. And I'm OK with that. I do believe that people should be free to choose what to believe in. I also believe that despite thinking others should be free to choose, they can choose wrong. I don't believe all religions are equal. And I think there are a lot of things in our culture today that are widely accepted but shouldn't be, because they're sins.

I really wish I knew how to be my whole self no matter who I am near. My faith is so central to who I am that it feels absurd when I section that part off. It feels kind of dishonest when I don't speak up about something that I disagree with. But I don't want that to be the only thing people focus on. I think it's also important that I love to read, that I like to paint, that I have a passion for theatre that is so big I can't describe it. I think it matters that I love fall and I'm not wild about fruits or vegetables and my favorite color is purple. The world around me is crying for people to be tolerant, but I think we've actually learned to be less tolerant of differences. It seems to me that forcing everyone to believe the same sorts of things isn't tolerating our differences at all. And who decided tolerance should always be a good thing, anyway? I wouldn't want any of my friends to tolerate an abusive relationship. We do not tolerate people committing crimes without consequences. The fact that we have laws about what is and what is not acceptable shows that there are things that should not be tolerated. I value my freedom, and I hate when I am told that I can only express my freedom in certain ways so that I don't offend others. I struggle to value the right for others to have their opinions when they're opposite of mine, but I know that freedom needs to go both ways, or it's a dictatorship.

This all comes about because tonight I was with a group of people, and as great as they are, I had a moment when I realized that I had to hide my reaction to something or they would all have a big problem with me. My belief about something doesn't change how I treat them. I already believe it; it's already how I'm treating them. It's a hard line to walk. I want so desperately for my friends to have an encounter with the one who loves us so much he sent his son to die for us so we wouldn't have to be separated for eternity. Love like that totally changes everything. I wish I wasn't so scared that my own story is too full of pain and not full enough with love to be very hopeful. Somehow, even though I know it's silly to think that God can't move because I am imperfect and my story isn't finished, I still worry that I'm going to screw up eternity for some of the people that I love the most. I hope I can learn to just be more like Jesus. He totally shook things up, was totally not PC, and he loved people like they'd never been loved before.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Right does not equal easy

When I was a kid, I was honest to a fault (most of the time). It actually got me in big trouble once when I was twelve. To me, there was never a second thought about whether or not I would return money if a clerk gave me too much change, or what I would do if I found money or a wallet outside. Everything, and I mean everything, was black and white.

I have finally realized that there are gray areas, but now the problem is remembering that there are some things that need to be definite black and white. And now it's not always easy for me to choose the right thing.

Tonight was a worship night at church. It was amazing. Off the hook, and all that jazz. I was really inspired to finish a painting I've been working on, but I decided that I need glitter to finish it, so I made a quick stop at Target on the way home. I decided to look at the dollar spot, which can be dangerous because it's easy to spend more than you think on those items. I found a bunch of socks, which is great because I love fun socks, even more so when they're only $1. Plus they wear out fast, so it's always good to replenish my supply, especially now that it's getting colder.

At the checkout the total was less than I thought it would be, which confused me because I thought I had counted correctly. I didn't really want to think about it, and I started to walk towards the door. But I kept looking at my receipt. I counted two, three times, then went back through my bag and matched everything up. Yes, the cashier missed a pair of socks. It was a just a dollar, and my first thought was, score, free socks! Then I realized how dishonest that was. Sometimes you don't notice until you're home, or at all, but I noticed while I was still in the store. I stood there for a minute, then I pulled out a pair and walked back towards an open register. I handed the cashier the socks and pulled out my card again.

As I was driving home, the thought flitted through my mind, "I hope God saw that and blesses me for it." I then immediately realized how backwards that thought was. I shouldn't want or expect anything extra for doing what should be second-nature. If anything, it was wrong that I considered just walking away with something that I knew I didn't pay for.

I'm not saying that it was some big drama. I just bought some socks. But the whole thing showed me some areas of my heart that need work. I'm a little ashamed that it felt so hard to do such a simple right thing. I want it to be easy to do the right thing. I want to be so in tune with God that I don't consider doing anything shady. I want to be open and honest and do the right thing, even when it's hard.


Have you ever had the experience of hearing a sermon that could have been written specifically for you? That's what happened to me on Sunday. As a part of the series "Why Me?" Peter talked about how we can hold onto our anger when things happen, especially betrayal. At one point he asked everyone to close their eyes, and picture the person or thing they always get angry about. I immediately had four people pop into my head, and after a minute, I added one other person.

Peter showed a summary clip of "The Count of Monte Cristo." If you haven't seen it, the jist is that a man whose life is going really well is betrayed by his best friend and spends years in prison. When the man escapes, his life starts to turn around, which is clearly at God's hand. He threatens to lose all that, however, if he chooses to seek revenge on his friend. Revenge is tempting. I totally understand that. I may not want people's lives to fall apart, but I've definitely wished that the people who hurt me would be hurt back.

The point is that when we pursue revenge, we are saying that we don't trust that God will bring about his perfect justice. It's amazing how many things come down to whether or not we trust that God is in control, isn't it?

I have recognized that I get angry because I'm afraid of getting hurt again or of re-experiencing the hurts I already have. There is a person on Facebook with whom I am not friends but have several friends in common. When I see this person's name, I tense up. I have a physical reaction. I don't hate this person; it's just easier to be angry and bitter than to deal with how raw the pain still is.

Choosing to forgive is NOT easy. Forgive and forget is a lie. We don't forget when we've been wronged. But we can choose to let go. So a few minutes ago, when I saw that person's name on Facebook, when I had a second where the anger and tension tried to rear its ugly head, I chose to take a deep breath, and let it go. I'm going to have to make a conscious choice to let it go each and every time. My prayer is that with God's help, it will get easier and easier to keep letting go, and that eventually it will be second nature to let go. It is a process. I see a professional counselor to help me work through stuff like this. I pray about it, and ask others to pray for me.

I have to say, that as familiar and easy as it can be to hold on to anger, it really is incredibly freeing to let go, to choose forgiveness.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Fear is something that we all encounter. Sometimes it's just a momentary fear, like when we hear a noise outside after watching a scary movie. We all know that momentary thrill that shoots up our spine when we get a fearful shock. Sometimes our fears are things that we deal with long-term. A fear of heights, a fear of the dark, a fear of spiders. Fear is all around us.

I never used to consider myself a very fearful person. I love heights, and I sleep just fine in complete darkness. There are definitely situations and things that make me uncomfortable, but I wouldn't say I am afraid. But there is one area lately that has really been getting me. Finances. I've been out of work since I got laid off in May. I get very little from unemployment, and every month I get more and more stressed about how I'm going to pay my rent. People worry because they're afraid. My worry is because I'm afraid that God won't provide for me. It's doubt on my part.

"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:25-34

I need that reminder. I need it every day, often more than once a day. God loves me, thinks I'm valuable. And he will take care of me. I need to have bigger faith, to trust and be at peace. It's not easy. But the best things in life are sometimes the things for which you have to work the hardest.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When Shame Holds You Back

"Ain't no shame in my game."

This line floated through my head as I was out walking this morning. I picked it up after reading Carlos Whittaker's blog, and it came to mind because I was thinking about how hard it was for me to venture outside to get some exercise. I hate working out in front of people. It's horribly embarrassing. And I hate the thought of people being able to see me if I'm huffing and puffing from trying to jog a little bit instead of walking the whole way.

And then I remembered this one woman from The Biggest Loser. I think it was one where there were people from each state, but only some of the people actually got to stay. At the finale, they'd bring back the person who had lost the most weight at home on their own and compare it to the person who lost the most weight while on the show. Her transformation was incredible. I never would have believed she was overweight, she was SO tiny afterward. The thing that struck me is how hard it must have been for her to get started. She didn't have a personal trainer and a group of people around her who were working towards the same goal. She had to work out in her own neighborhood where people knew her. It's so hard to make a change like that. Sometimes people who are overweight are so ashamed of their weight that they're embarrassed to take the first hard steps towards getting in shape. That's been my struggle off and on for a long time.

Then I thought about it. No, it's not ideal that I'm out of shape now. But why should I be ashamed of taking a first step towards changing that? It takes a lot of courage to get out there and do something different than what you've done before. It is really hard to ask for help sometimes. I've been watching Hoarders, and it's got to be insanely embarrassing for these people to let the public see how bad their homes have gotten. But they are working to make a change. That is so admirable, and I think even more so because of how hard it can be to take a first step when you feel like you're at the bottom of a pit.

I realized today that there are a lot of people who don't change their lives because they're ashamed. All they can see is the mistakes they've made that lead up to the present. I think it would be amazing if people could learn to look more at the right now. Instead of focusing on the years I screwed up, what if I decided that I'm going to feel amazing today because I walked 1.9 miles and jogged 3 short portions of that? I am proud that I'm working, however slowly, to make a change in my life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blogging Technical Question

When I look at my blog, some of the posts show up as different sizes than others. It's driving me crazy, because I can't figure out how to fix it. I don't adjust the default settings while I'm typing up the post, so I don't understand why it's being so finicky.

Right now the post that looks different when I view it is the Daniel post. Am I the only one who is seeing a different font size?

God's Character

Yesterday my church started a new series called "Why Me?" I have to say that Pastor Peter hit it out of the park on this one. First of all, hilarious intro story. I haven't laughed that much in church in awhile, and church is usually pretty funny. Second of all, it was a reminder that I can never have often enough.

Isaiah 40:11
"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young."

I need to be reminded of God's love. He is compassionate and caring. He loves us.

Right now I don't really have much to say. It's been a very full day, and I'm just waiting to fold a load of laundry before I need to get some sleep. I just wanted to get this down at least in basic form before I forgot.

Also, if you want to listen to the sermon Peter preached yesterday, you can listen to it here: It's the sermon for 9-12-10.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I'm part of a women's Bible study that meets every other Wednesday night, and right now we're working our way through Daniel. We don't do any written study or anything; we just read a chapter each time we meet and discuss. This week we read Daniel 6, AKA Daniel and the Lion's Den. I grew up with this story. I was the epitome of a Sunday School kid. I love reading Bible stories straight from scripture as an adult, because I see so many things I missed.

Daniel was a man of great character. He was very disciplined. He regularly prayed three times a day, and he fasted and watched what kinds of food he put in his body. He had a great grasp on the fact that no matter what human king was on the throne, God was in charge of all. He seemed to be pretty unshakeable. King Darius says no praying to anyone but him? Daniel goes home and prays to God. Business like clockwork.

There are at least four kings in the book of Daniel. The pattern is like this: king does something stupid, Daniel (or Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abegnigo) stick to what he knows God's commands are, God performs miracle, king realizes who the true God is and declares it to the land, king does something stupid and loses the throne. It's not exactly the same for each king, but the point is that Daniel remains consistent. He doesn't pursue a high office; his character and excellence speak for themselves and he ends up in a very high office anyway. In chapter 6 it says that the king's advisers wanted to get rid of Daniel, but they couldn't find any fault in him, so they had to set up a trap using his religion against him. I don't know about you, but I want to be the kind of person who is so in tune with God that my character reflects that. I'd love it if the only way someone could get me in trouble was to make a law specifically targeting my faith.

A few of us commented that we see how obvious it should have been to the kings. Daniel's God is tops. Daniel is the man who is on the right track. Oh...wait...this could apply to our life, too? We should be able to look at the examples in the Bible and some things in our own lives should be pretty obvious? You mean the Bible can apply to us, too? ;)

I don't think I'll ever be at the point where I have faith like Daniel's. But I can do the best that Brenda can do. Faith as big as a mustard seed can move mountains. God seems to do some of his coolest miracles when situations are toughest, when it seems the most hopeless.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Magic of Imagination

When I was a kid, I used to play with my Barbies for hours. I made up stories for them, created lives for them. I used to do the same thing when I was playing in our sandbox (which, by the way, was orange). Using my imagination was second nature. I read books like crazy, and I often stayed up way too late because I was so immersed in the story that I forgot to stop.

These days, it's a lot harder to be imaginative. One of the most challenging classes I've ever taken was Scriptwriting. Creating a story of my own with dialogue? It felt impossible, and though I pulled a decent grade, the play I wrote was pretty disastrous.

The reason I mention all this is because I watched the end of Finding Neverland tonight. It's one of my favorite movies, and one of the few I took a chance on buying before I'd seen it. It's also the one movie I am guaranteed to cry while watching. It's about J. M. (James) Barrie and the family that inspired him to write the play Peter Pan. James meets some young boys playing in the park, and he ends up befriending them. They have all kinds of imaginary adventues, from old west cowboys to pirates. The end of the movie is my favorite. It's opening night of Peter Pan, and amidst this group of serious grownups dressed to the nines are a group of 25 orphans scattered throughout the audience. When the curtain rises and the nanny/dog comes onstage, the begin to children laugh. As the play progresses, the children's ability to use their imagination rubs off on the adults and everyone is entranced with the story of Peter Pan. I get choked up at this part every time.

That's why I love theatre. It touches people in a way that movies and TV don't. You're practically a part of the action. There's no wall between you and the actors. You can't distance yourself the same way. When you're watching a movie at home, you can be on your computer, or you can pause the movie to go get a snack or do a load of laundry. At the theatre, it's like real life. Real people are onstage. The mood is practically tangible. Even in a play that doesn't have fancy sets or costumes, the actors can really pull you in.

I've seen amazing plays at some of the local theatres. I love the sets and costumes. As an actor, those are some of my favorite parts of getting to be onstage. I've also done theatre in some pretty bare bones situations. In college I was in a play where the stage was just the back and front curtains, a table, bench, and some chairs. That was it. And it was a really powerful play. I was also in a play recently where our walls were made of PVC pipe and black fabric. It was still one of the most emotional plays I've ever done.

I love drawing people into an experience. I love it when people are a part of a play that touches them, that changes them. But I also love being a part of a play that's just fun. Sometimes people need a break from their life, time away from their stresses and worries. I love to help them laugh and enjoy themselves for a few hours. I love showing people a different world, a different time or culture. It's so magical. The energy right as the lights start to dim. The excitement right before I walk onto stage. The sounds of a crowd laughing, or seeing people with tears in their eyes at the end of the show. There also something so connecting about sharing that experience. We're not all a bunch of people who are different; we're a group who has shared something. That's so special.

I hope I can act for the rest of my life. When I'm a little old lady I want to be in Arsenic and Old Lace. I want my kids to be able to experience theatre. I know it's not everyone's favorite thing, but I will never stop believing in the magic we can create with our imaginations.

Friday, September 3, 2010

RSS Feed

I'm new to blogging. I've only been reading daily blogs for a month or two. I have friends who update their blogs infrequently, so it wasn't all that hard to keep tabs. If I'm bored or have some time, I just click through my bookmarks.

Well, that won't work so well anymore. I'm starting to follow more blogs, and it's getting harder to stay organized. Behold, the RSS Feed. I've heard that term, and I vaguely knew what it was. I didn't know how to set it up on my Mac, so I used Google. eHow, easy peasy.

I'm excited for this. Probably more excited than I should be. But I love stuff like this. Granted, I'm usually way late in jumping on the wagon, but once I figure stuff out, I'm usually all about it.

Starting when I wake up, I'll be following blogs in a whole new way. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On Being Unemployed

Today I feel pretty unmotivated to find a job. I did spend some time searching, and I responded to a couple of job postings. But I didn't feel excited about any of the jobs. I don't feel excited about working full time. I didn't particularly care for it last time I was working.

I like when I work hard and earn my wages. It feels really good to pay my bills on time with money I earned by working hard. It gives me a sense of purpose, and it gets me out of my apartment and makes me more productive.

I still don't want to work full time. My last job was very stressful. I love kids. I love babies. But working with up to 12 babies a day for eight hours? Not so fun. And my coworkers were nice people, but I had no connection with them. I was very clearly an outsider, even after working there for six months. I hated how alone I felt working in a room with other adults and full of babies. When I got laid off, in addition to the hurt I felt over losing my job abruptly with no time to say goodbye to the families or my coworkers, I was hurt by how little my coworkers cared. I know that they were probably glad they still had jobs, but that's one of the most clear times I can remember when I felt like I did not matter to these people one iota.

So I'm wary about finding another job, because I'm afraid that it will be life-sucking and stressful. I want time to enjoy my passions, like acting. It was hard to work full time and then drive across the cities for a long night of rehearsal. Totally worth it, but hard. And my spiritual life is so much better now than it was when I was working. I look forward to Tuesday services, Sunday services, my small groups. I have more free time, which means feeling less rushed about fitting in time to read my Bible. Plus, I can't describe the peace I feel about my finances. I was constantly worried about having enough money for my bills when I was working 40 hours a week. I was always looking at my calender, figuring out when I would get paid and when certain bills were due, and it was so stressful not knowing if I would have enough money for gas in my car, let alone groceries. I get around half of what I made at my job from unemployment. I've had an odd babysitting job here and there, but nothing steady. And yet my bills are all paid on time. I trust that God will provide somehow. I trust that more now without a job than I did when I had a job.

Whenever I'm talking about my job hunt, I usually get asked what my dream job is. I hate that question, because either of my two life passions are not paths I can take to pay my bills. I want to be a wife and mom who focuses on raising her kids, and I want to be an actor. I am involved with theatre as much as I can be right now, but it certainly doesn't pay, and I don't have the right combination of talent, skill, and marketability to make it in the industry professionally. Which is OK, because I really feel like getting to perform is its own reward. There's nothing like the rush of being backstage, waiting to go on, or the feeling of walking offstage at the end, letting out a big breath, and knowing that you did your best and it was good.

I don't know what will happen next. I don't know how long it will be before I find work, or what kind of job I'll end up getting. Right now, I'm working on figuring out who I am and trying to be the best me I can be. I've been doing a lot of reading, and it feels good to expand my knowledge. I'm learning the lighting at church, and it feels good to learn a new skill in an area of interest. I'm working on crochet and knitting projects that I started in high school. This was not a planned break, but I'm definitely making the most of it so that when I have a job again I'll know who I am and how to stay true to myself.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


My best friend's mom passed away three years ago today. She fought pancreatic cancer for over a year (if I'm remembering correctly) before she got really sick and died. I've been aware that today was coming up, but I didn't look at the date until just now, when I read Althea's blog.

Margot was a really wonderful person. She always welcomed her kids' friends into their home. I remember playing various card games at their kitchen table. Racko and Taboo (especially Taboo) were games that we played often at the Babler house.

I remember vividly a conversation I had with her during one of my early years of college. I was home for a visit, and I had gone to see my friends at the high school and I had given Joe a ride home. I sat and talked with Margot in the living room. I remember talking about my desire to be a stay at home mom, and how a lot of people in high school had asked me why I would waste my intellect doing something like that. Margot told me how much work it takes to run a household well. She was really supportive of my dream.

I was always welcome at the Babler house. Margot wasn't the best at keeping the house clean, but it was always a welcoming home. I knew it was a safe place that I was always welcome if I needed somewhere to go. I loved the way she changed the outfits of the American dolls to fit the season. I loved sitting on the couch watching The Simpsons with Maretta, Joe, and Craig.

I'm sad that Margot is gone, but I'm glad I have such wonderful memories of her. She treated me as if I was one of her kids, and that still means so much to me. I'm so honored to have known her.

I'm praying for my Babler friends today. Because as much as I miss her, I know they miss her a million times more.

Saul and the Holy Spirit

Right now I'm working my way through the Old Testament. I started with Genesis, and I'm pretty much just reading straight through. I'm in 1 Samuel right now, and I'm seeing some awesome things I hadn't noticed before.

Saul was an answer to prayer for the Israelites. They had been asking for a king, and even though God wanted them to be happy having him as their king, he granted their request. God gave all kinds of warnings to the Israelites about what having a king would mean, but they didn't really care. I think it's so interesting that God would answer the prayer of his people even when he knew it wasn't necessarily what was best for them. It makes me want to be a lot more deliberate in saying, "Here's what I want, God, but I really want your will for me, so help me to want what you want." It's also another good reminder that we tend to be so short-sighted, and God sees the big picture.

I'm starting to get the connection between the prophets of the OT and the prophecies of the NT. The Old and New Testaments have always seemed so disjointed to me, so separate. When I think of the Holy Spirit, I mostly think of Paul. It took me by surprise when I read about Saul and Samuel encountering the spirit of God. I guess I've always assumed that when God spoke to his OT prophets that it was with an audible voice. I'm not really sure why. In 1 Sam 9, Samuel is told by God that a man was coming who was to be anointed king. That man was Saul. The thing I really love about this is that Samuel didn't just know there was going to be a man, he knew specifics. When Saul met Samuel, Samuel said, "Go on up the hill ahead of me to the place of sacrifice and we'll eat there together. In the morning I will tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. And don't worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel's hopes." (1 Sam 9:19-20 NLT) The reason Saul was where Samuel was in the first place was because Saul was looking for his father's lost donkeys. Samuel had that specific word from the Lord, and I'm sure Saul had a hard time wrapping his head around that. Saul didn't even have the chance to ask Samuel about the donkeys, but Samuel was able to tell Saul what he wanted to know. Crazy.

After Samuel anoints Saul to be king, he says this: "At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power [Acts 1:8, anyone?], and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do whatever you think is best, for God will be with you." (1 Sam 10: 6-7) That is such an amazing thing. The Holy Spirit changes people. It's so amazing to read about this all over scripture. And I don't know about you, but I want to be so full of the Holy Spirit that God is in whatever I do. I also want to be paying close attention to Saul, because he was totally filled with the Spirit of God, yet he totally screwed up in the end. Saul is not the only one in the Bible to do this. I want to learn to recognize the pitfalls in my own life in the hopes that I won't have that kind of 180 in my own life. I tend to be really good at seeing the sin in other people, but having a hard time being so honest and blunt about myself (plank and speck syndrome for sure). It's also good, though, to be reminded that even the Bible superheroes were human and screwed up. I feel more connected to people when I know they're not perfect, and I feel more hope that God will love me despite my mistakes because he loves others despite their mistakes.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What about Isaac?

I'm reading a book called Rebekah: Women of Genesis by Orson Scott Card. I know that it's technically fiction, although it's based on Biblical events and people. It's still a great story, so far. I'm at the point where Rebekah has just gotten married to Isaac, and the next section (I'm assuming) is about their life together with their family.

It's given me some things to think about. We are our experiences. We make choices based on how we do not want things to turn out. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we do things that hurt others. Do you think that Rebekah really wanted to cause division in her family, to create a situation that drove Jacob away for years?

What about Isaac? He probably grew up knowing of God's promise that Sarah would have a son. But did he also know the whole time that Abraham doubted God and that's why Ishmael was born? What did Isaac think, knowing that he was an answer to Abraham and Sarah's prayer, when Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac to God? I think that generally we think about the great sacrifice that Abraham made, and how merciful God was to spare Abraham losing his beloved son. But what about Isaac? How did it affect him for the rest of his life knowing that his father was capable of killing him? Did he constantly doubt his worth? I know I would have. I would have been angry and bitter and I think I would have been very angry at God. God knew the effects this could have on Isaac, the potential that Isaac's relationship with his father would forever be altered, and yet he chose that particular situation.

I don't really know how to react to that. Part of me dislikes the realization that sometimes God could clearly choose that we go through a situation that causes us pain. I mean, I know that. I've experienced things like that, and I've never understood them. But suddenly seeing the situation from another angle just gives me a lot to think about. How did Isaac, how do we, really trust God? He sees the big picture, and we don't. And sometimes, he causes things to happen that are difficult or awful for individuals, but an amazing part of the big picture. Jesus got a pretty raw deal. But it was an AMAZING part of the big picture of all humanity. How do we find the kind of faith that allows us to trust God no matter what, even if our lives seem terrible for years and years?

I'm a little afraid to trust God sometimes. Or a lot of the time. Because in the back of my mind, I think I really get that my best interest isn't the only thing God's concerned with. And he might ask me to make some big sacrifices. That's scary. That's hard. But I do want to be the kind of person who will still praise God no matter what. I know God is love, but that doesn't always mean my circumstances will feel that way, or that I will feel that way. And I wrestle with that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this, to create some dialogue about this. I love when people help stretch my concept of God and who he is beyond my own limited understanding.

First Blog

I have a journal. I write in it pretty regularly. I like writing with a pen on pages and seeing the book fill up. I love starting a brand-new journal. It's so helpful in getting my thoughts and feelings sorted out, and it's a safe place to vent anything and everything.

This is not my journal.

I used to have an online journal. I only let one or two people read the deep stuff. Most of it was about my day to day life. In high school. Honestly, not all that interesting. It's cool that I can go back and read about it if I want to, but it's really not the sort of thing anyone cares about reading.

I sometimes share notes on Facebook, but because it shows up on my friends' Newsfeed, I sometimes feel like I'm being overeager in sharing. I don't post all that often, so I didn't think it made sense to start a blog. But last night, as I was reading my Bible, I saw some really cool stuff that I hadn't noticed before. And I wanted to share it with someone, but it was late and I live alone and I needed to get to bed so I could wake up this morning and babysit. I remembered how this happened to me a few days ago when I was reading a book about Rebekah, and I thought it would be nice to have a place where I can continuously post thoughts.

So here it is. My blog.

I'm going to repost my FB note on Isaac to start off. For now, my goal is to use this blog to share thoughts that can spark dialogue. Honestly, I'll probably end up posting about myself, too, but I hope that I'll be discerning enough not to have too many boring, selfish posts.

Welcome to my blog. I hope this'll be fun!