Friday, March 10, 2017

Lent me your ears

I'm not catholic but I've found that I'm drawn to seasons of remembrance and reflection.  I have a pretty go, go, go kind of life and don't always have my mind on the spiritual.  So when I heard Lent was starting I thought to myself I should participate.  It's a 40 day period leading up to Easter and is meant to be a time of preparation mirroring Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness.  It's a time of confession and reflection on the sacrifice Jesus made to pay for our sins.  Traditionally this includes fasting but the modern interpretations of fasting have come to include giving something up for those 40 days.  Some people give up TV or pasta.  I got the very clear impression God wanted me to give up noise.  From the moment I wake up to the time I'm falling asleep I'm either listening to a book or have TV on in the background.  It helps occupy my mind while my hands are busy.  God's been hinting that this is a problem.  How can I ever hear from Him if my ears are always listening to something else.  So I agreed and the number 10 popped into my head.....10 hours a day of silence...........................................................................................................................

Um, no God...that is a lot of hours of silence...Like that was just an arbitrary number that I thought of before I did the math....that's not actually what God wants? It can't be, I don't want to do that!

It went on in my head like this for a little while and that's when I knew that was exactly what God wanted me to do and that I really did have a problem.  I'm addicted to noise.  Granted, my noise.  I don't blare heavy metal all day long.  That would be torture.  Nope, my noise is books.  One right after another.  No need to concern myself that I haven't heard from the Lord.  No need to learn how to take my thoughts captive.  Nope, books cure most ills.  Too tired to get chores done and don't want to feel guilty, stories!  

Now that 10 hours does not include sleeping, I checked.  That's 10 awake hours. Anyway, it's been really hard.  I've had to plan for other peoples noise in my quest to give up 10 hours a day.  That means I have even less of my own noise and my selfish heart has whined...oh yes.  There has even been angry pouty face.  Totally ashamed.  It has meant that I have had lots of quiet time with God and have gotten a lot of chores done.....nothing motivates doing something you don't want to do like being bored of just sitting there listening to your own thoughts *shudder*  I'm grateful that God is working on this with me.  It needed to be addressed.  I'm still struggling with looking with dread upon the remaining time, I didn't realize Lent could be so looooong, but I'm looking forward to being closer to my Lord and truly ready to hear from Him.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stress Progress

Whether you're dealing with a plethora of first world problems or just a few, stress is a problem.  It's linked to all kinds of health issues and generally sucks the joy of life right out the window in my experience. Part of getting a "God checkup" every so often (you know, the search my heart and see if there be any unclean way in me/what are you wanting me to learn/where are my strongholds of sin/which battle am I gearing up for, thing) for me has always included some regret that there are certain areas that I seem to always struggle with.  I know, I know.  I haven't reached the finish line yet...there is no perfection on this earth.  For a long time I couldn't see (or didn't recognize) progress in any area of my life.  Now, God has graciously and kindly shown me some areas that have a definite growth and all praise and glory goes to Him on that.

Our house is a little old.  Home ownership has a lot of stresses when it comes to repair and maintenance.  Our first home was a new build and while we didn't live there long enough for maintenance issues we did struggle with a sea of mice and black widows that were displaced from the empty lot behind us when new construction began.  Our second home had black mold and many other issues but when we got one of the estimates for repairing the mold problem I had my first TMJ attack from my jaw stress clenching.  Lack of money or lack of expertise can lead to paralyzing indecision.  My husband and I are not handy people.  Repairing a fence, putting in a water heater, replacing a sump pump....we've done those things...but not well.  We've had some pretty major expenses for our current house.  This week I got a quote for over $19,000 for a repair along with several other thousand dollar repair jobs that need to happen.  It should have been stressful....and I'm pretty sure I'm not stressed about it.  (My body and I don't communicate well so I sometimes don't know when the reactions I'm having are stress related)

Here's the thing, God is using these potential stressers as a test, not for His amusement but for me.  You see, God has been doing a lot but the two I'm going to focus on right now are the long term work and the short term work.

  1. I've been struggling with weight and ever increasing headaches and migraines.  I've tried a lot of things (see previous blog posts) and didn't really believe this "new thing to try" would make any difference.  With reservation I entered into an intention to prepare Whole 30 every day for a month (I didn't think I could give up dairy)  I can say I've lost a little weight but the biggest difference is the decrease in headaches and I haven't had a migraine in weeks.  This is a HUGE deal.  I had a 4 day migraine not too long ago.  I've also had enough energy to get more tasks done which helps my overall mental health.  
  2. I've noticed I hold onto house and money stress much less than I used too.  I have the resources and calm to do what I can to research and make the best decision available.  10, 15 years ago....that was not me.  I'd call my dad. I'd stress out about who to even call for a specific issue. I'd stress about how much it cost and I'd often wait until the problem was worse and it forced me into action.  
Without these situations, and a few spiritual prompts to look, I wouldn't have noticed God had been succeeding in teaching me how to give up worry and stress.  While it's never fun to be out thousands of dollars, I can honestly say I'm bubbling with joy.  It's inexplicable, it's miraculous, it's God!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The costume plan

All right my fellow minions.  It's going to be another very busy year.  We may be adding FanX to our line up of events which will bring the total of Cons to 3 this year.  AHHHH!
Why?  Well, apparently our Power Rangers line up was fairly popular and they want us there for the opening weekend of the movie.  Plus, Weird Al is going to be there this year and I'VE NEVER MET HIM AND THAT WOULD BE EPIC!!!!

Anyway...

We also have planned on Disney this year which will require some planning and we have another family trip this year.  That's a lot of travel.  In addition, my brother has decided that we need to step up our costume game.  He wants to enter the costume contest and SLCC is pretty picky and so we need to get moving on Costumes.

This year my brother wants to do Star Wars.  A good thing to have in the repertoire.  He's doing an original character that is going to be epic.  My hubby is going to attempt a mashup.  Starlord Mandalorian Merc and I'm going to attempt a Sith Inquisitor.  Of course I want to do well enough that I can enter the costume contest too but we'll see.  That's a pretty ambitious costume.



We started by doing the easy thing.  We are making ghetto dress forms.  I taped up my hubby and we are going to fill it up with gap fill foam.  The cold weather has reduced the amount of expansion we got so it's going to take a few more cans to finish this project up.




Next we need to make a list of what we need to make and start experimenting with new materials.

Here's to latex headpieces, thibra armor and some serious attention to my sewing skills.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bad day, better attitude

Some days are just designed to be tests.  Today was one of mine.  The first week of Advent is about hope.  It's a time to refocus on what's important.  To live in anticipation of the coming hope.  It's a remembrance of Israel waiting for the Messiah and now for us waiting for the second coming.  One of the questions of reflection asked how I could act with greater kindness and understanding.  So how did I start my day.  By honking at someone pulling illegally through a median.  I fantasized all the way to the doctors office about police chasing them down, imagined pillions shooting up from the road ... It occurred to me that this was not only unproductive but it was setting me up for a poor state of mind.  I hadn't gotten my prayer time in before I had to leave this morning.  By the time I arrived at my appointment I thought I had gotten my mind back on track.

That is until I found out my appointment is tomorrow.  No big deal, misunderstanding.  So I decided to make the most of it.  I went to a nearby park.  It was lovely.  Great view, brisk cool walk.


That is until I went back to my car and figured out I had locked myself out of my car.  Okay, called a friend to pick up my extra keys. Didn't get the right keys.  No big deal, called a locksmith.  Called my mom who said she would bring me coffee.  Out of the blue my husband called and I shared how my day had gone so far.  Got a couple errands done and arrived just in time to meet my mother who had also gotten me lunch.  Got some work done.

That is until I got notice I needed to come to a last minute doc appointment and that the murder mystery party game I've been working my brains off for had a guest cancel.  The key character. Fine, think about it later.  Ran home to pick up medical records.

That is until I'm petting my kitty while she was apparently peeing in my office chair.  

Sometimes life can seem like one big poke in the eye.  I admit that I struggled with my attitude today.  I tried telling God about my day but I wanted to call a friend a complain.  To hear the sympathy.  I'm not sure why we long for someone to Oo in sympathy but find it less satisfying to pour our heart out to the Lord and let it go.  My day wasn't fun but God is very good.  He kept interspersing the annoyances with very clear instances of love and care.  Even on very bad days, there is a choice.  You can drown in the annoyances and probably make a bad day worse.  Or you can see the care and love that is wrapped around you.  Our God is a loving Father.  He knows when we need comfort. You can choose to have a tantrum or you can lean into the loving embrace, take a deep breath and move on.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent

The holidays can be a challenging time of year for many.  The lists get longer, the stress gets bigger and the demands on our time grow.  My friend, Pam, and I decided this holiday we were going to do an Advent Bible Study.  In addition we are going to pray specifically for requests that line up with the weeks of Advent.  I am personally adding in a month of prayer discipline.
The end of the year tends to be, at least for me, filled with some annoying stressful things that make me think the entire year stunk.  (This is helped along by the fact that I usually haven't given myself a period of rest from the never ending tasks on my to do list).  This year, I don't want to be focused on the stress.  I want to focus on my Savior.  To participate in the anticipation of His coming.

So here's to an end of the year filled with anticipation not of things but of hope!

Here's to an end of the year meant to set up the beginning of the new year with success!

Here's to growth in areas of value!



As far as the prayer discipline, I wanted to share what I'm doing.
I have a hard time praying for a few reasons.  The first being that my head is so full of tasks and thoughts I can't seem to maintain a quite time of prayer for any length of time.  The second is I've had some heartbreak in the area of prayer I thought was answered and seemingly isn't.  I'm working on these in two ways.  I'm going to start a prayer log.  I think typing out my prayers will force me to focus and help me keep a record.  I'm also going to allow my brain a period of time to think about everything I have to do that day and I'm going to write it down.  I'll give it a  to do list to show my brain I heard it and I'll get to it in due time.  My prayer is that this will allow me the space to focus on God.  So here's my to do list for today.  Now to prayer!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Life is weird

It's been a while since I was able to sit for a few minutes and think.  I'd like to say this is a busy time of year for me but as I have a few minutes to sit and think I realize that is a less than true statement.  I don't have a non-busy time of year.  If I'm not in the midst of an event, I'm planning for and preparing an event.
This past weekend I attended a two day conference that was waaaaaaay too new age-y woo woo for me but despite the affirmations to get in touch with my inner orphan I did learn something God has been trying to wack into my brain for a long time.
I take service very seriously.  Any hint of personal laziness is anathema to me.  As my life has gotten busier I've had to whip my body past it's breaking point as my body's breaking point keeps getting shorter.  I'm sure you think that's ridiculous.

Part if it is my drive to help.  It's my purpose and I LOVE having purpose.  The other part is an impending feeling that my time is short.

Today I'm going to get another MRI.  I've been having some additional symptoms besides the headaches and fatigue.  I've been having dizzy spells.  Some of them while driving.  The thing in my brain is probably nothing.  I'm probably having more symptoms because I'm not getting the message that I need to stop treating every new task as an impending deadline that only I can accomplish.  I've got to relax or I'm going to kill myself (or make myself miserable enough to wish I was).

Each one of us has personal drives that are part of our makeup.  We are all different.  This weekends class, while not enjoyable for me, was full of people trying to identify who they are so they could set themselves back in balance.  I can respect that and it's a message I need to listen too.  What comes next can feel impossible.  How can I just turn it off?  Time and attention.  What is the Lord trying to teach you right now.  Does what He's asking of you seem impossible?  Have you failed before?  Shake it off and look to your Savior.  Don't shackle yourself with past failures.  Get up (or in my case sit down) and pay attention.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

At the Speed of Life

Being a minion is always hard work.  Time flies by at an alarming rate of schedules, deadlines and innovation.  The first challenge is always placing healthy boundaries so that the ever unmet needs of a charitable organization (shaped by the ever growing number of people they serve) doesn't burn you out.  The second challenge is managing the effects of long term service.  Pastors and ministry leaders take sabbatical for a reason.  Service is exhausting.

I have some wanderlust and my fingers itch to be doing something.  For me, that means that I tend to get my fingers busy doing something and then I'm in direct conflict with my wanderlust.  I know that sometimes life is about repetition.  So how do you keep your charity work from feeling like drudgery.

Doesn't that word sound awful.  Drudgery.  It makes me feel exhausted just saying it.  That idea of slogging through an endless mud pit just trying to find the energy to keep lifting one foot and then another to make your way forward.

Life is about relationship not tasks.  For a personality like mine, that's really hard to remember.  I have to work at remembering to focus on the people I care about.  In the past, I've tried to schedule time but lately I've noticed that I'm remembering to put less and less people on my schedule.  I'm already exhausted and I find the effort of connecting exhausting.  Is it any wonder that my service feels like a drudgery?

If you're feeling like work, service or life is a drudgery I encourage you to take a look at the priority you've placed on relationship in your life.  This isn't about being a social butterfly or pretending to like people you don't.  This is about plugging into the life giving resources God has given you.  Most of us need a reminder to shift our focus solely from tasks to the people we are ultimately doing the tasks for and with.  I'm not saying you lose sight of the finish line, I'm asking you to take your eyes from the line and look into the cheering crowd, glance at your fellow racers and soften your gaze.


Have you see this video.  It's showing different camera focus.  It's a great analogy for life. Sometimes, laser focus is necessary.  It allows you to see a limited amount in great detail.  Sometimes a wider angle is necessary.  It gives you more information in more general detail.  We get stuck seeing things from our favorite perspective.  If you're finding that life is feeling a little drudge-y, ask yourself where your relationships are?  Put your effort into breathing life and focus into your people.  

When was the last time you ask your friends how they were doing and really listened?  When was the last time you gazed into your loved ones face and told them how much you love them?  When was the last time you had a little fun with real people in the same room as you?  

Yeah, me too.  So that's my goal.  I need to shake off the exhaustion that comes from drudgery and reach out to the people in my life.  I need them and they need me.  I'm not serving people with tasks, I'm serving them with care and attention to the fact that they are people.