Tuesday, March 15, 2011

God is Faithful.....

....even when we're not.

Just to refresh your memory, in September I wrote the following blog entry: The Dream and I knew that God wanted me to stop worrying and be where I was for that time in my life.  But I'm stubborn and hard headed (I'm really relating to Jonah from the Bible lately).  For some reason I may never understand, my work at my former job was not finished. I'm referring to my God work, not the work I was being paid for.  So last Friday I received an email from my former boss there.  She needed me to help her with a project I had worked on while I was there.  
The timing is so God.  Just before I spoke with her yesterday, I received a meeting on my calendar for today.  It was billed as an account review but I knew it was really a layoff meeting.
Today's meeting was what I believed, I was let go effective immediately.  I followed up with my former boss and she was cleared to bring me back.  We talked a little, I told her the situation and that I was officially out of work.  She said she'd call me on Friday once she understood the budget and we could make some plans.
Not even an hour later she called and it seems another person she works with also needs some help, I go in on Thursday for a meeting with both of them.
I have always said God works in mysterious ways and I'll never understand why he blesses me so, but he does and it surprises me every single time.
I posted the below Bible verses before.  I post them again.  Mostly to remind myself to follow his plan for my life.  He is amazing and faithful and wonderful and always there even when I don't listen to him!

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Monday, March 14, 2011

The need to Give...

Editor’s Note: I want to take a moment to apologize upfront for this entry. This post will go all over the place and seem to have no end in sight and will be at times hard to follow, but bear with me. My thoughts on this are just crashing everywhere and I need to get it out.

There have been two times in my life when I could have been (and by all accounts should have been) homeless. And had it not been for the Grace of God, I would have been. The first time was actually many times rolled into one “life experience”. My first marriage was a failure on about 40 different levels. The main one being that my ex-husband resented having to work. However, we had 2 children and not working was really not an option, except that it was --to him.
In the span of roughly 2 years we moved more times than I can remember. The only reason we could move and pay all the deposits and whatnot was because my Mother was paying them. She was not going to allow me and my sons to be homeless. She paid more security deposits, pulled more strings and got me into more rental properties than I care to remember. She was a Real Estate Agent in Charleston, SC and she was able to get us homes our credit score and evictions would not have allowed.
Most people are just not that blessed. Most people lose the ability to rent or buy when they get evicted, especially more than once for non-payment of rent. Most people end up living in their car when something like this happens. Repeatedly.
The second time was not as dramatic, except that it was. In January 2001, one day before my oldest son’s 8th birthday our house caught fire. It was dramatic and traumatic and part of who our family is today. And because we lived 7 miles away from my mother and father in law, and we had amazing home owner’s insurance, we were able to pick up, dust off and move forward. So many people helped us during that time, our families were there immediately with clothes and toys and books. My mother-in-law set us up in her in-law suite and the Catholic School D attended took up a collection of more toys and books and presented us with that and gift cards about 2 weeks later. By the time Boo was born a mere 5 months later we were safely back in our home, with all new stuff and ready for our new son to join the family. The fire was officially part of our family folklore.

On Saturday, March 5, I joined the Associate Pastor of our church, Pastor Amanda, another Sunday School Teacher, Mrs. Donna, another teenager and my teenaged sons and we went to a Homeless Shelter to present a check or the offerings we had collected in Sunday school. The Homeless Shelter is part of a larger organization called the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN).
IHN was started by Karen Olson,

In 1982, Karen Olson was a marketing executive who developed promotional campaigns for consumer products. One morning, on her way to a meeting, she saw a homeless woman, someone she'd seen over and over again on her way to work.
She decided to buy a sandwich for the woman. The stranger accepted the sandwich but asked for something else - a moment to be heard, to be comforted, and to be considered as more than a mere statistic on a cold street corner.
Soon, Karen and her two young sons began frequent trips to New York to hand out sandwiches to the homeless. As she came to know some of the city's homeless people, she began to understand the profound loss and disconnection that homelessness causes. That understanding turned into an enduring commitment.

This history told to me on Saturday by the IHN Executive Director, Geleen Donovan touched me. When she followed it up with the statistics I was floored. Before I throw out those statistics, you have to understand where I live.
I live in Hunterdon County, NJ. This county has been in the top five highest-income counties by median household income since 2000. We are solidly number 1 for counties with a population of less than 250,000. This means we have a lot of money and a lot of space. I live in the midst of excess. This also means we generally value stuff. We value lots of stuff and the best stuff. My township has imposed an 8-acre minimum for housing sites. We don’t have 8-acres, our mere 2.5 acres were grandfathered in, read that again. In New Jersey we live on 2.5 acres and we were grandfathered in, you couldn’t build a home on 2.5 acres today in my township.
In the midst of this excess, people are losing their homes. We have a homeless problem. It’s not big by comparison to our neighboring cities and counties. Now, New York City, they have a homeless problem. Philadelphia, ditto. You don’t think of Hunterdon County, with its horse farms, million dollar homes and luxury cars when you think of homeless problems.
We’re peanuts compared to them, we are the literal drop in the bucket.
  • On January 27, 2010 there were 137 homeless men, women and children counted in Hunterdon County according to the official U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • The actual number of people who are homeless over the course of the year may be between two to
    four times larger than the number counted at one point in time. Using the statistical formula
    developed in the publication "Estimating the Need," it is projected that over the course of a year, 440
    adults and children are homeless in Hunterdon County.
  • Hunterdon County has a population of 128,349 the homeless are a mere .3% less than 1 percent of the population is homeless.
This causes the homeless to feel an even bigger shame. The IHN helps only families. This means children and often teenagers are involved. Being a teenager is hard enough when you live in an affluent area and everyone has the latest coolest and most expensive clothing. Now do that when you are hiding the fact that you don’t have a home. If you just can’t relate, Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless by Melody Carlson really does a wonderful job illustrating this.
I feel God calling me to help. I’ve felt it for a long time. In the midst of my blessings, I am guilty of excess without grace.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I have learned over the past 3 days I have a very serious addiction to caffeine.  Going from 60+ ounces per day to none, is painful and debilitating.  And more than I can withstand.

Maybe if I could sleep all day and do nothing but moan while curled up, I'd be okay,  But I have children and a husband and a job that expect more from me.

I have also realized I do need to do something about this caffeine addiction.  So I am going to reduce my caffeine intake daily to get it back into a normal manageable monkey instead of the gorilla I'm carrying around on my back.

I am still considering doing the Daniel Fast, but I obviously have to prepare my body for this.  I have come to the conclusion that God wanted to get my attention and make me aware of my addiction.  I'm aware.  He certainly knows how to get your attention doesn't he?

I want to only Crave God.  I want to only be addicted to Him.  He should be first in my life, not coffee.  I want to get out of bed in the morning and stumble to my Bible, not my coffee pot.

I am still "observing Lent" I haven't had any chocolate since Tuesday.  This is a big deal for me.  And I am going to volunteer at the Homeless shelter, I have a post about IHN (Interfaith Hospitality Network) ready to go, I'll probably post it on Monday.  I do think it's a good idea to take some time each year and think outside oneself.  I also think that's best accomplished when you focus on someone or something else.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Daniel Fast

I'm semi-joining the Lazy Christian in the Daniel Fast.  I got up this morning knowing I'm now "officially" a Methodist which means I should be observing Lent.  Lent has been bothering me for a while now, because I was raised Southern Baptist and I grew up being told "we don't do Lent, we're not Catholic."  So I've never "done" Lent.

Until now.

Now I'm "doing Lent".  Without observing Fat Tuesday.  I'm getting the shaft, I'm sure.  But I drove to work this morning knowing God wants something of me, from me and I'm not doing it.  I've felt this for a while.  I don't know what he wants, but maybe just maybe if I prayed a little more and mainlined coffee a little less, (aka. Be still and know that I am God) I'd get a chance to find out.

Two people in my life today talked about the Daniel Fast.  The whole spiel is here, but the gist is no coffee, no tea the only beverage is water.  No refined or over-processed anything (sugar, flour, preservatives, chemicals) no sweeteners of any kind (The only thing I LOVE more than my coffee is my Splenda).  Oh and if that weren't enough, I'm not done yet... No Dairy, No meat, no fish, no chicken, no eggs and no leavened bread.

Which leaves that which comes directly from the ground. That's it, if I can't grow it from a seed I can't eat it.

This is going to be very tough for me.  Some people are doing a modified Daniel Fast and that's allowed, however I feel God calling me to go whole hog (okay no hog, but you get the idea).

This is me off coffee.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finishing Things

Today I was going to write a whole post about gardening. I even wrote most of it. However it wasn’t good enough.

I am so very hard on myself. I don’t think this makes me unusual.

I have been writing a book for over 3 years, same book. It’s not good enough.

Underneath my happy-go-lucky, devil may care attitude, I am a perfectionist. Everything I do must be perfect; otherwise I have failed, miserably.

I am excited that some of the seeds I planted on Sunday are sprouting. I am also worried that others have not. I know deep in my soul, some seeds are bad, and there is nothing I can do about that. And I know I will still feel like I’ve failed when some of the seeds I’ve planted do not become plants.

This has led me to not attempt many things I’m pretty sure I would be good at, because I may fail. I may fail.

If I fail people will know I failed and then I will be embarrassed. Embarrassment is perhaps the thing I fear the most. I don’t fear dying. I don’t fear public speaking. I don’t fear heights. I fear embarrassment (and snakes, but that’s a whole other story).

I read an article about a study conducted in the New York Public schools by researchers from Columbia. The long and the short of it is that praising children for being smart can actually hinder a child’s ability to try things. I would say I’m the poster child of this study. Nobody has ever argued that I’m not smart. My IQ proves I’m smart. If intelligence were the only factor, I should be one of the most educated people in this country. And perhaps I am.

I read constantly. I remember most of what I read and yet, I do not have a Bachelor’s Degree. I attended college –multiple times. Each time I did reasonably well. And each time I quit.

So I am intelligent. I enjoy reading and researching. I enjoy writing. All of the things that makes for an excellent College Student. And yet, I cannot seem to finish my degree, my book, my post about gardening and many other things I start.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Different View

On my "Current Events" blog, I posted about the Supreme court ruling on the Westboro Baptist Church's protesting and picketing at funerals.  That post is from a purely political perspective.  I'd now like to analyze this issue from a biblical perspective.
Yesterday, the SCOTUS handed down an 8 to 1 decision that the Westboro Baptist Church has the right to protest at funerals.

It is not what God wants said in his name, I feel sure. We are not sent here to judge, we are sent here to love. In preparing to write this piece today I did some research on their protests and research on the counter protests. It’s all hate. Hate, hate, hate. And that is not what God is about. He is about Love.

I do not agree with the implication, if A is right then why is B wrong. In this example A equals WBC protests and B equals Christian displays and Christian messages.  I do see A and B as two branches of the same message.  WBC is protesting in what they seem to believe is God’s name.  Many Christian faiths believe and pronounce that homosexuality is a sin.  Jesus calls on us to rebuke our neighbors with love and call them from their sinning.  So in many ways WBC takes the Christian message “Go forth and sin no more” to its natural foregone conclusion.  

I do not agree with their conclusion, because I do not read the Bible in a vacuum. I read the Bible as a whole book. So in one place Jesus tells us to judge but only to judge with the Holy Spirit. We are not ordered to judge a group of people, only one person at a time in a loving manner.

I have not been called to judge homosexual people. That is to say God has not placed that burden on my heart. As a result, I do not have strong feelings either way on homosexuality. I do believe God calls us to love everyone. Indeed Jesus said this is part of the most important commandment. I also know that Hate is the opposite of Love.

Hate like Anger will eat a person up inside. It will consume you until you can no longer see, be or feel anything except the hatred. I also know that God does not ask us to hate. He asks us to love.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Get on with it already!

Recently I’ve had a front row seat to watching two people who are close to me wrestle with Christianity. They are both very similar in their personalities and neither of them is willing to grant God the control He desires in their lives. I stand back in amazement at both of them. I just can’t understand where they are. I really try to be there for them and answer their questions, but I am really having trouble relating.

I really don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t a Christian. I DO remember well times in my life when I tried to be in control, but I was a Christian, just a “Backslidin’ Baptist” as we’re called. I’ve made many mistakes in my life, I’ve chosen many wrong paths and I done many things I am not very proud of, but through all of those God has been with me. He carried me sometimes, held me sometimes, walked beside me sometimes and just generally was there for me always. To say He has protected me is understatement, He has blessed me way beyond what I deserve and continues to do so daily.

One of the people I’m watching thinks that being a Christian and having faith means all doubts are erased. You never doubt again. I know that isn’t true, I’ve seen all kinds of mature Christians doubt. One of Jesus’ own disciples doubted his resurrection, and that earned him the moniker ‘Doubting Thomas’. Abraham doubted, Noah doubted, Moses doubted, Jonah doubted and yet they all play important roles in our faith. They are all held up as examples of good and faithful servants.

The other believes she is not good enough to be loved, by anyone especially God. That one is easy for me, none of us are. That’s what makes Jesus’ death on the cross so spectacular. Christians are not perfect, we are just forgiven. When God looks at us he looks through the lens of Jesus. And as Christians we reflect Him not ourselves. He sees the Perfect and Holy One, not our sinful selves.

I get frustrated as I watch them both struggle through their lives trying to be all things to everyone and never relying on the One through which all things are possible. They both need to be all to everyone because then they believe they are in control of their lives, but they really aren’t, it’s an illusion – or delusion as the case may be. They believe giving up control is perhaps the worst thing they could ever do.

They think becoming a Christian means something it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean missing your old life, leaving your old friends and becoming someone different than who you are. It means living with a peace that surpasses all understanding. It means giving your troubles, burdens and heaviness to God. But it also means giving Him the credit for your successes, your joys and your wins. It means following Him, allowing Him to drive and leaning on Him before you have tried everything else.

Prayer is not a 9-1-1 call, it’s not a last ditch effort, it’s not even a Plan B. It’s Plan A and there is no Plan B. It’s trusting Him to give you what you need. It’s trusting Him to be in control. This isn’t necessarily easy for me, but I’m getting better with it (most days). I just wish I could get them to understand you’re not a Christian because you’ve become a saint, you’re a Christian because you’re a sinner.