Friday, December 31, 2010

On the seventh day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me the magic of "I wonder..."

I wonder if a couple of teaspoons of sugar, heated in a small saucepan with a cup of fresh blueberries, will make a good topping for the cheesecake made from frozen cream cheese? Definitely.

"The cure for boredom is curiosity; there is no cure for curiosity."

Wonder what the new year will bring....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the sixth day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me glorious flowers.

My Christmas cactus, Chris, is blooming away. Over a dozen new vibrant pink blossoms. Absolutely gorgeous! With all the rain and more promised soon, we may have an incredible spring. Even if we don't, I'm enjoying the evergreens as well. And with all the wonderful photographers willing to share their gift, I delight in all the pictures!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the fifth day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me really fantastic food.

Coconut shrimp, baked potatoes with gravy or sour cream, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, hot coco with biscotti, pizza, pancakes with buttermilk syrup, chocolate chip cookies and milk, cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, chicken with veggies, cheesecake, sauteed zucchini with parmesan cheese, and baklava, and that's only some of this week's menus.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the fourth day of Christmas... Reading List #30

My true love gave to me BOOKS! You knew that was coming sooner or later. :-)

Books open the door to adventure, knowledge, escape, fun, new worlds, different ideas.

I know I've been neglectful of my reading list, so today is catch up day. Some of the books I've briefly mentioned in other posts, but not an official list. Of course, I'm only listing the ones I enjoyed. The Baby Agenda by Janice Kay Johnson, Rescued by his Christmas Angel by Cara Colter, Falling for the Teacher by Tracy Kelleher, Family Be Mine by Tracy Kelleher, The Host by Stephanie Meyer, Romancing the Teacher by Marie Ferrarella, Suspect Lover by Stephanie Doyle, Merry Christmas Babies by Tara Taylor Quinn, The Promise of Christmas by Tara Taylor Quinn, Cowboy Daddy, Jingle-Bell Baby by Linda Goodnight, Regency Christmas Courtship by Andrea Pickens, Barbara Metzger, Edith Layton, Gayle Buck, Nancy Butler, Mistletoe Kisses by Deborah Hale, Diane Gaston, Elizabeth Rolls, Jingle Bell Babies by Kathryn Springer, The 1st Wife, The 2nd Lie, The 3rd Secret, and The 4th Victim by Tara Taylor Quinn, Anna Meets Her Match by Arlene James, A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh, Christmas Wishes by Barbara Metzger, and a variety books that are being read a bit at a time. I'll list them when they're finished.

On the third day of Christmas...

Happy Boxing Day! The day when the those with servants gave them the day off and a box of gifts, bonuses, and/or left over food. It was also the day when the alms boxes of the church were opened and distributed to the poor.

My true love gave to me work I enjoy.

With Christmas Eve on Friday, I found myself doing the work, today. I truly do like what I do.

Made pancakes and buttermilk syrup, today. Spent time on a special project. And a bit of reading.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On the second day of Christmas...

December 26th is usually known as Boxing Day, except when it falls on Sunday, like this year, then it's celebrated on the 27th. The 26th is also known as St. Stephen's Day, a martyr. Unfortunately, I also checked some of the traditions and found that some of them were quite grizzly. Sometimes, change is good.

My true love gave to me change.

Christ is the greatest believer in change. He suffered Gathsemane and Calvary on the promise that if I accept Him, I will be changed, for ever. The opportunity to change what I do, how I think, what I know, what I believe.

Over the next few days, I will reflect on where I've been, where I am, and where I would like to be this time next year. I cannot change others about me, but neither can they change me, without my permission. What will I allow in my life this coming year? What will I expect of myself? Change is the gift I was given, and I will give myself by creating a plan to carry it through.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On the first day of Christmas...

Today is the first day of the twelve days of Christmas. The twelfth day of Christmas was believed to be when the Wise Men made their appearance. Whether that is true or not matters not to me. This year, I decided to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, to more fully appreciate the priceless gift given to the world.

My true love gave to me memories.

I woke to the account of the Christmas story found in Luke running through my head.

As I helped with wrapping presents last night, for my great niece and nephew, I shared stories of past Christmases spent with my dog.

Over this past week, I've enjoyed visiting with those who hold a place in my heart.

Looking back, I see how far I've come.

So many good memories.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Today, I celebrate the day of my Savior's birthday. What joy to wake to thoughts of the story found in Luke (my favorite of the tellings). Because of my Savior, I need not for ever bear my follies. Through His Atonement, I may unburden myself by His blood, if only I will accept His gift. In choosing Christ, I choose to change my life. And each day, the choice is offered me anew. Today, I choose to be as I mean to go on. When I stumble and fall Christ is there to lift me and set me on my feet and help me on my way again. Though the choices are mine alone, God does not expect me walk alone. If I walk alone, it is because I turn my back on God. God never turns His back on His children. Ever. I may not understand why particular trials are mine, but God knows me and knows what will encourage me to stretch and grow. Will I allow myself to be placed in God's hands? I freely admit it's a frightening prospect sometimes, for like Mother Theresa, I frequently feel God has more faith in my abilities than I do. Then again, how am I to know how far I'm able to reach if sometimes I do not fall short? It's difficult sometimes to remember that God is there to comfort and lift me from the mud puddles, and all He truly asks is that I not give up.

The birth of Christ is about perfect love and hope. God loves me perfectly, and the hope I sometimes feel is so elusive and yet persistent isn't something that I create but a cherished gift from God. And like any gift, I may accept or reject it. Christ came to earth to save me from Hell, if I would but choose to follow Him. "Hell: Truth seen too late."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve... are you ready?

Yesterday, when I was driving to pick up my work, I was merging onto the freeway and found myself behind a low-rider truck. I was surprised by the amount of spray on my window. Yes, it had rained, but I didn't expect that much. So I moved over to the middle lane. Then the truck swerved, enough to scare me, and put ever sense on high alert. I slowed and moved over to the far lane just as the truck swerved again, right to where I would have been. I knew the truck's tire had shredded. It wasn't rain that had been spattering my windshield but bits of rubber. Fortunately, the driver was able to regain control of the truck and move over to the side of the road. It all happened in about two seconds. Fear was my friend in that moment. I offered a prayer that someone with the right skills would be able to help that driver.

The shopping is done. Everything that can be done has been done. I open presents on Christmas Ever, and then on Christmas Day, I reflect on the year, and make a list of the gifts I will be giving myself in the coming year. I started this tradition, last year, so this will be the first time I have a review. I'm looking forward to it. Christ, the reason for the season.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carpe diem... and a quote on fear...

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

I finished the four-book series of the Kelly Chapman Files by Tara Taylor Quinn. Wow. Talk about a page-turner! It's more mystery suspense than romance. Tara Taylor Quinn is a champion of abuse survivors, most particularly domestic abuse, unfortunately with the background to understand, but also the courage to move past it.

Christmas carols are playing.

Did you know that cream cheese kept in the freezer, even for more than six years, is still yummy in cheesecake?

Another Christmas-related task was accomplished, much better than I expected.

And enjoyed a phone call from a friend wishing me a Happy Birthday, as well as cards from friends. Others have arrived but won't be opened until tomorrow, when it's official. :-) God has a sense of humor: I'm almost brainless for my birthday. Though there probably won't be snow, there should be rain, as close as this place manages to come to snow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #34...

I'm grateful for the right to take long-held "truths" and decide for myself that they are wrong. FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Generalizations are so often incredibly shallow. A nice sound bite, but an esoteric idea that I think does more harm than good. It suggests that we must simply not be afraid. Actually, if you think about it, it's a pretty stupid thing to say. An abused child at the mercy of an abuser knows fear and it isn't just the fear they fear. I mean really. That's what the quote says. So does the person trapped by a rapist/mugger/thief/etc. The only thing they have to fear is fear. Really? What idiot would say that in such a situation? So does the soldier, who does what is required anyway. And I don't believe for a moment that FDR wasn't afraid of his paralysis. So all he had to fear was fear? Then there are things like cancer. Even the word strikes fear. In American Sign Language, one does not use the actual sign for cancer in a doctor's appointment but only the letter C, to keep from causing increased fear. What parent doesn't fear when they are told something is wrong with their child? What human being doesn't feel fear being told they have MS, leukemia, diabetes, heart disease, etc? Over and over, I've heard people speak of their fear and it often isn't for themselves but for their loved ones, and it isn't fear that their loved ones can't go on but simply knowing they want to be with them. The fear is of being separated from those they hold most dear. Fear is a part of the human experience. Pretending like it can be wiped out by simply not acknowledging it is the same as putting on blinders.

In truth, it can be incredibly healthy to feel fear, though it is not healthy to live in constant fear. I do believe that's where faith comes in. I've often heard it interpreted that if you fear then you lack faith. I hold that fear and faith reside side by side. Fear is not always a bad thing. How often have I been protected because my fear, healthy fear, steered me away from a dangerous situation? And what need of faith would I have if I had no fear? I've always liked the idea that if you're prepared, then you don't need to fear. But some things cannot be prepared for, and that is where our faith is tested. Faith needs to be exercised in order to grow and strengthen, just like any skill. One can deny one's fear, which doesn't actually make it go away. It only buries it under a pile of denial. Or, one can live in fear, making one useless to one's self and to others because fear is limiting. Or one can choose to acknowledge the fear and exercise faith by learning what one must do to move forward. I'm well acquainted with fear, and sometimes it's my friend, and I am learning to embrace faith. It isn't easy, but then nothing worthwhile in life is.

Variation: Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that a coincident is an event in which God chooses to remain anonymous. Recently I heard something similar that I like better. I did some quick homework, and the first mention of it is back in 2008. I heard it first from Glenn Beck, during his First American Christmas: Not a coincident but a God incident.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten days to Christmas...

Christmas has always been a struggle for me. My birthday is so close, it was often forgotten or I could have one less gift on Christmas and have it for my birthday. In the last eight years, God blessed me with amazing friends. Friends I discovered because of LOTR. We met on a LOTR-related board, online. They celebrated my birthday all month long, year after year. Now, I'm content to simply be remembered on the day of my birth or close to it. They've shown me in so many ways that they cherish me. To them, I made a difference because I was born. I think, it's all most of us want: To know we matter, to know that the world is a little better because we existed on this little planet.

Over the years, I planned so much for Christmas, but all of them revolved around a family of my own. Every year, I hoped that this year would be the year I would have someone with whom to share this important reminder of our Savior's birth, the birth that changed the whole World and all of Time and Eternity. But God had other plans.

Finally, last year, I began creating traditions for myself. These aren't anything like the traditions I planned before, but they are perhaps more centered in the true reason for the season, Jesus Christ, my Savior. He who taught about love and hope and how to live life, by example. I'm not the best of students, but I am tenacious.

This year, I'm clearly not settled into my traditions, but I'm re-thinking and trying a few new things. I have followed almost every tradition I put on my list last year, and added quite a few things this year. Yes, it's all so new I find myself double checking the list I created, largely because it's practically nothing like I always imagined it would be. Re-inventing yourself is a challenge. God never said it would be easy; He only promised it would be worth it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Food... warning, rant ahead...

Writing about it, so it's out of my head. I'm watching the banning of foods, the crying over food deserts, the "concern" for overweight individuals, and the idiocy that is stemming from those who think they have the power to fix others, especially when they are still imperfect themselves. They think that if they limit food choices, the problem will be solved. They think that if everyone would simply listen to them, all the problems would be solved. The arrogance in such thinking is appalling. News Flash: There is no one thing that will solve obesity, except maybe the return of Christ to the earth. Really. Being overweight is a myriad of problems. Weight, either over or under, is a symptom not a problem in and of itself. They drone on and on about eating healthy. Everyone should eat healthy, but by whose standards? I've complained before that every diet book I've ever read starts with eat only whole grains. I'm allergic to bran. Whole grains are out. I've lost count of the number of times the "official food pyramid" has changed in my lifetime. Of course, they also add in that moving helps. Of course it does.

Now, here's the real problem. Being overweight is a symptom, and I'm not talking about a symptom of unhealthy eating or not exercising. The eating and moving are tools. You would have to live under a rock not to know that eating healthy and exercising regularly is good for you. Recently, I was told that my back problem would improve if I lost weight, to which I replied, "Thank you so much for telling me because I'm clearly too stupid to figure it out on my own." Sarcastic? Definitely. Also, incredibly angry. I have been starved to the point of eating dog food. I have been forced to eat food that made me sick. I have been told that I'm too active: hold still! I've been told that men don't marry girls that weigh as much as I do. This to a woman who is an abuse survivor. I promptly put on twenty pounds. Eating and exercising are not the problem or the issue or the answer. I freely admit I hide behind my weight.

So to all those who say that all you have to do is eat right and exercise, I respectfully request that you keep your shallow opinions to yourself. Try looking a little deeper than the surface. You look at someone who is overweight and ask why they don't eat better and exercise. You see them eating at a fast food restaurant and nod sagely that if they'd stop, they'd be healthy. I hope you never find yourself struggling with a health issue that others consider easy to solve if you only *fill in the blank*.

The truth is that I've done eating healthy and the exercise. I lost a little, slowly. Then, someone I do not trust commented on how good I was looking, and I promptly regained the weight I'd lost and then some. I have discovered that I am not a stress eater. In fact, when I'm stressed, I stop eating. However, I do eat to stuff emotions. I do eat to stop thinking. I do eat when my hormones are out of whack. Food is always there when I want it. Food always gives exactly what I expect. Food doesn't care if I'm fat or plain or unsuccessful or slow or awkward or scatterbrained or clumsy. People wonder why I accumulated food storage: I needed to know it was there. I will never allow anyone to dictate to me again what I may or may not eat. No one is allowed to force me to eat what makes me sick. No one is allowed to decide how much or how little I eat.

Everyday, I endeavor to be aware of what I eat. I endeavor to do some form of exercise. I am endeavoring to teach myself how to be healthy, but it starts on the inside. That place those perfectionists cannot see. So, if you see me eating something that's less than healthy try stopping a minute and first asking yourself, "Do I know if this is an occasional treat or a habit?" Then ask, "If it's a habit, do I know what need is being filled?" Then ask yourself, "If it's a need, am I in any position to fill that need?" If the answer is "No" any of those questions, then I would appreciate it if you would simply live your life and allow me to live mine. I do recognize a good example when I see one, and it does help. I will never learn healthy behaviors if I am forced. Been there, done that, and clearly it doesn't work.

All that being said, this comes down to one thing: I want the right to choose for myself. God gave me free will, and no one has the right to take it away unless it infringes on basic moral principles, and I have yet to have anyone point out in the Bible where is says Thou shalt not be fat. However, there are plenty of criminals wandering the street who have lied, cheated, committed adultery, murdered... So, when you've cleaned up the streets of those lawbreakers, then you can come after me about what I eat.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Carpe diem... breathing a little easier... sort of...

My internet is working as it should. Why it surprises that I'm feeling this huge relief, I don't know. I know how stressed out I become when my internet doesn't work. It had been giving me trouble for quite a while, though I hadn't realized until it started going out last week. I was totally discombobulated. (great word) So, today, I enjoyed a well-working internet. I read (no surprise there), did laundry, caught up online, and generally tried to catch up with myself. I'm still working on that last one. I had sorted through my room, culling things to let go, and re-arranging my room with the new space. I'm not used to it yet. It's completely thrown off my routine. I don't do well without a routine. I don't dispute that change is good. I know that. I still have a difficult time wrapping my mind around it. I wish I understood that better... maybe I shouldn't say that. Knowing God, He'll arrange it so I have plenty of practice until I get the hang of it... probably too late, already. Shoot darn. "Buckle up, Buttercup; it's gonna be a bumpy ride."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #33...

~Good friends, gifts from God, who journey with me. They bless me with peace and joy in turmoil and uncertainty.
~Techs who know their job and do their job.
~Books! (No surprise there.)
~Finding a way to do my work that seems to suit me better. Old dogs are capable of learning new tricks.
~Having enough to be able to share.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mystery solved...

After six and a half years of faithful service, my modem was dying, slowly. New modem, no problem. Why did I not recognize the symptoms? My last modem was fried by lightening. Instant death. For future reference, mine had a good lifespan. Computers change, the internet changes, and modems need to be periodically replaced (5-6 years) to keep pace. Fascinating. The tech was great, answered all my questions, listened, and never made me feel silly.

I noticed that the cable between my computer and the modem was the one I've been using and the new one was still in the box. I called my sister and asked if I should trade out the old one for the new one, keeping the new with the new, and saving the old for "just in case." She agreed with me, but then I probably learned it from her. :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weirdness, no matter how you look at it...

The internet went out, again. What is God trying to tell me? My internet is my connection to the world, and so many friends I never would have met without it. The tech guy is coming, tomorrow, and I'm letting him because maybe he'll understand what I clearly don't. Be that as it may, God's hand is in it. You see, the connection was sporadic, read up for a few seconds than gone for several minutes. I was working. I had two medications and two conditions I needed to find for spelling and/or verification. All four times, my connection would be long enough to accomplish the search, even if it meant pulling up the internet (then it would go down) typing in the word or words (then it would go down), and finally doing a quick enter, and having exactly what I needed popup, and then it would go down. Work is done, despite feeling frazzled. Since it was down this afternoon, I needed a way to relieve some of the stress, so I gathered up things I plan on giving away, books, VHS tapes, a few LOTR things, clothes, and other odd bits. My room is far less crowded, and I like it. Now, clearly the internet is running fine. It afforded me the opportunity to watch Glenn Beck, thanks to watchglennbeck.com. Thank you! Jon Huntsman was the guest. What a remarkable man. And I finished the day feeling inspired and grateful for all my rich blessings.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

God works in mysterious ways...

...His wonders to perform... Still having problems with my internet. AUGH! It really makes me cranky to feel so disconnected. Once again, internet was out from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Sigh. I was wondering if I needed to call Cox to see if there was something they could do, and decided to wait until after finals... maybe. Then it was out around 2:30 p.m., and my SIL needed a phone number. I called Cox. The computerized troubleshooter talked me through. WOW! I liked that if I didn't catch everything "she" said, she'd repeat it. After a bit of this and that, Shazam! I have a solid connection again. I never imagined being comfortable with the computer helper. All good things come from God.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The value of good friends...

Monday night, I lost my internet connection for an hour. Then it was back; no problem. Tuesday morning, my internet connection went out for an hour, then all was well again. Wednesday night, again my internet went out. Blessedly, I was on the phone with one of my best friends, who let me complain, empathized, then said, "It's the middle of December. Projects are due." Oh. She had had the same problem where she lives, every year, during exam time. I live less than a mile from a university. Whew. It isn't me. Whoohoo!! Always good to know it isn't me, and it will not last more than another week; it is only occasionally, and lasts only an hour at a time. Doable. Thank God for smart friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Murphy and O'Toole

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, at the worst possible moment.

O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Law: Murphy was an optimist.

I had a complete meltdown almost a week ago. My counselor was offered his dream job. He wisely took it. However, I wasn't ready! Life happens. He assured me that I had learned to be emotionally independent, but I still needed to learn to be financially independent. I restrained myself from rolling my eyes and saying, "Duh!"

That being said, I've been putting in extra effort on my food storage. There's so much I can't do, but this I could, so I did. My dad quipped, "You're going to need a warehouse."

What I heard: "Why are you wasting your money on this?"

What I felt: Lazy and stupid because if I were industrious and smart, I would have figured out how to be financially independent long ago.

What was really going on: A lot of things.

So went the horrible, awful, really bad day, and brings us to today. God reminded me that He is aware of me. Picking up work, the traffic was horrendous, road work, drivers not paying attention, but God brought me home safely. Then my internet connection was interrupted. My connection to the world. I called Cox, and the techs were great. The first one helped me set up an appointment for someone to come to the house. Then, moments later, the God breeze: I remembered that a few days ago I'd accidentally kicked the cable, knocking the modem. It seemed the connection had come loose, and I hadn't realized. I set it to rights, and whoohoo! Internet connection. Called Cox back, and the tech was again great, canceling the appointment. What could they tell me? It works. Can't fix what isn't broke. Add to that, the mouse scrolling isn't working.

Be that as it may, work was accomplished. I had my connection. Whew! Did I question what I'd done wrong to have all this dumped on me? Oh, yea. Definitely. Then I reminded myself that Life Happens. I came to earth to learn and grow, and learning and growing isn't easy. I did not come for a vacation or to take it easy. I came to see if I would work to remember God and His teachings, to exercise faith because all was forgotten. Would I choose God's plan without the sure knowledge of being with Him? Or would I find Lucifer's plan more appealing that everyone be saved by being forced to do what's right? It's hard to choose to do good sometimes. Have I not, in the past, wailed for someone to tell me what to do? But now that I'm learning the value of free agency, I hope it isn't too late...

We had a saying in the mission field: If you wonder whether or not your mission is over? If you're still here, it isn't. The same is true of life: If you're still here, it isn't over.

On this day, the anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, my thoughts and prayers are with our military personnel, all over the world, our warriors. May God bless them, and hold them in the palm of His hand.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Do you know who you are?

Arizona Shooter posted an article, today, that hit home with me. I'm not a sheep. I'm not a wolf. I'm not a full-fledge sheepdog, but I'm closer to that than anything else. I needed the reminder.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #32...

~Visit from the sister-in-law, had a ball chatting PBS programs!
~Chris, my Christmas cactus, is blooming!
~My Christmas book list.
~Lawn ornaments, i.e., the feral cats that romp in the yard.
~Eclipse, released on DVD!

Psalms 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High...

Friday, December 3, 2010

One of my favorite writers...

Tara Tyler Quinn is at Deena's Place Deena is also a writer, and while TTQ is working for domestic abuse awareness, Deena is helping with human trafficking awareness. Remarkable women, with huge hearts. God bless them and their efforts. I'm currently reading TTQ's Merry Christmas Babies, one of my Christmas traditions. I have a whole pile of Christmas books that I re-read every year, a couple of which are TTQ's.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #31...

~Thanksgiving.
~Time with family.
~Surprise rain.
~Cooler weather.
~Re-reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An unexpectedly productive day...

Family arranged for a "super Saturday craft day." I brought a needlepoint project I started back in the early 90s, I think. I haven't worked on it in years. Today, I picked it up again, and managed to accomplish quite a bit. The company was delightful, the food delicious, and the work pleasant.

Revelations 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Harry Potter Friday...

I've never been particularly impressed by the whole Black Friday thing, but then, I've never had children so the need to find the right gift at the lowest possible bargain has never been on my list of things to do. However, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 1 came out last week, and needed to be seen. My sister, my dad, and I went to a middle of the day show, at IMAX. It was my first IMAX experience. I've been spoiled for life. The sound. The picture. Wow! I'll never be able to see a movie in a regular theater again. Fantastic! Definitely a part 1, and I want part 2 NOW! Ehem. A little impatient is all. Whoohoo!!

As I was searching my Bible for the right verse to share, today, I found this one. It reminded me of Harry and Ron. Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This year, it was fun and delicious. I am grateful for so many things, people, opportunities, experiences...

Today's Bible verse: 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9. Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed...
15. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many rebound to the glory of God.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve...

Work is done. The room is decorated, and so is my computer screen. :-) The pie I'm taking to my sister's is ready and waiting.

For anyone interested, Judge Andrew Napolitano says that the new screening is in violation of the 4th Amendment. One is allowed to state the obvious then request the screener's name, rank, and serial number, as well as take a picture of them. I don't think I could go that far. I was delighted by the woman who wore a bikini to the airport. I'm sure I couldn't do that. Perhaps by the time I fly, again, the demands will have changed. It is unconstitutional. So, the purpose of my musings as to how I'll handle it? It gives me a sense of control. It helps me curb my fears by having a plan in place. "...if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." Doctrine and Covenants 38:30

Today's Bible verse: Psalms 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God..."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Searches, inside and out...

I find it interesting that this whole upheaval with the TSA is coinciding with some upheaval in my own life. More to the point, it seems almost as if it is an outward reflection of what is happening on the inside of me. I've traveled once or twice a year since 9/11, usually to L.A., but I've also been to Florida, Texas, and Kentucky, via Tennessee. My general impression of the TSA has been that they are doing their job and pretty much leave me alone because I'm pretty innocuous. Really. Some of the TSA agents have been unapproachable, and sometimes even curt or crabby, but I'm more than willing to cut them some slack, as I hope others do me when I'm having a bad day. They may be that way all the time, but that isn't my concern. That being said, quite a few of them have made my travel more pleasant by their helpful attitude and friendliness. For example, I'd forgotten to take off my watch before going through the metal detector. I apologized as I fumbled to get it off, holding up the line. The guy laughed and reassured me it was all right. Life happens. That was two years ago, and I still remember. I felt like we were on the same side.

Fast forward. I'm nervous about my next flight. What will I do? I already know I'll opt out. In addition to believing my body is my own, not the governments, and the fact that the government has lied about the scanners on so many levels it's creepy, there is also the fact that cancer runs in the family, including skin cancer, which is the one that many scientists are warning about with the new scanners. I do also realize that for the most part, the TSA agents aren't real thrilled about the pat-downs either. There are always a few unsavory sort, no matter where you go. Fact of life. I would like to invoke my Fourth Amendment rights. I don't know how that will go over. We'll see what the next months bring. In the event that the government requires the TSA agent to violate that right, what will I do?

Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor said, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

I haven't the power to change the government, but I have the power to change myself. Accepting does not mean rolling over and being a doormat. It never did. Abusers would have you believe that, and that is what this government has become, abusers of the power they wield. They cannot shame me or embarrass me if I choose not to accept the guilt trip they seem to want to inflict. I've had people try to embarrass me, and it's quite the sight to see when I refuse to respond in the manner expected.

This is what has been culminating. Coming into a sense of acceptance of who and what I am. Knowing that all my dreams and hopes have had to change over the years, but I'm not a failure because my life didn't follow my plans or the plans others created for me. All along, God had a plan for me. Many of the paths I followed, that I hoped would lead me where I wanted to go, were, in fact, leading me where God wanted me to go. Do I feel like a failure sometimes? Actually, often. I'm still struggling to let go of dreams, good dreams, dreams that cannot be. Not because God doesn't love me but because He does. In my head, I know God's plans are always better than mine. Always. But when you believe that your plans are God's plans, and then finally realize they're not, it isn't difficult to imagine that trust takes a hit. Not so much trust in God, but trust in one's self and the ability to listen and follow God.

So now we're back to where I am now. Learning to trust God is much more about learning to trust myself. God is all powerful, all knowing, everything that is good and right. I, however, am flawed, imperfect, a sinner. And yet God loves me. God knows my fears and concerns. I don't believe for a moment that what the government is doing now is inspired by God. The government has strayed frighteningly far from the Constitution, a God-inspired document. God help them.

What will I do? I pray I find the courage to start singing Amazing Grace, to remind me I am God's no matter what anyone does to me.

Today's Bible verse: John 11:35 "Jesus wept."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Carpe diem... National Bible Week...

Did you know that the week of Thanksgiving is National Bible Week, since 1941?! Why did I not know this? Well, I know now. So, today's favorite Bible verse: 1 Samuel 16:7 "...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." I've always paired this with a line from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Enjoyed making cookies, yummy cookies. A bit of reading. A lot of sorting and re-arranging. And some catching up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #30...

~Rain! Always a blessing here.

~Reminders of what Christmas is truly all about, to rethink what matters and make a different kind of to-do-list, a list of ways to truly celebrate the birth of the Savior.

~Really good friends.

~Romance novels, my favorites. :-)

~Racing! Congrats Carl on winning at Homestead! Whoohoo!! Looking forward to next year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reading list #29

Oh my goodness! I haven't done this since early September! Time to catch up. Hawk's Way series by Joan Johnston, Carter, Falcon, Callen, and Zach's stories respectively. NASCAR Hidden Legacy series by Jean Brashear, Peggy Webb, Abby Gaines, and Marisa Carroll respectively. Family Matters by Barbara White Daille. Wyoming Lawman by Victoria Bylin. Emily and the Notorious Prince by India Grey. Midnight Seduction by Justine Davis. An Officer and a Gentleman by Rachel Lee. Secret Contract, Ironclad Cover, My Bodyguard, and Intimate Details by Dana Marton. The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie. My Spy, Found: His Perfect Wife, and The Amnesiac Bride by Marie Ferrarella. The Fire Lord's Lover by Kathryne Kennedy. Untameable Rogue by Kelly Hunter. Pregnant and Protected by Lilian Darcy. Last Virgin in California and Marine Under the Mistletoe by Maureen Child. A Woman of Choice by Kris Tualla. Mistletoe and Magic by Amy Elizabeth Saunders, Lisa Cach, Lynsay Sands, and Stobie Piel, an anthology. Under the Mistletoe by Mary Balogh, a collection of her short stories. Rocky Mountain Match by Pamela Nissen. Holiday Havoc by Stephanie Newton and Terri Reed. A Harlequin Christmas Carol by Betina Krahn, Hope Tarr, and Jacquie D'Alessandro, a Christmas anthology. Truly Yours, The Scandalous Life of a True Lady, and The Wicked Ways of a True Hero by Barbara Metzger. And Homecoming Day by Holly Jacobs. And that's only the ones I liked well enough to review over at Harlequin. There were other books I didn't like and didn't review and a few that ended up in the circular file. So many books, so little time...

Friday, November 19, 2010

God surprises and curiosities...

Yesterday, I awoke early for my walk. I'd heard it was the last night for the Leonid meteor showers. I saw an article, while I was looking up the spelling, stating that the show may not have dazzled but still caught the eye. *pfft* I was dazzled! I saw more shooting stars this summer than ever in my whole life! And God kindly blessed me with one more as I stepped out the gate in the early morning hours. It had me thinking of Tolkien's Bilbo quote: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Later, I was grocery shopping. When I approached the register with my very full cart a woman arrived right behind me with a handheld basket not even a quarter full. I offered to let her go ahead of me. She told me it wasn't necessary, but I told her I didn't mind. She thanked me and went ahead. Then, as I put my first item on the belt, a man stepped into line behind me with two items in his hands. Again, I offered to let him go ahead. He told me he didn't really need to, and I assured him that it would give me time to get things on the belt. He thanked me and went ahead. I was almost done loading, and the cashier was preparing to check me out when a woman with a cart that was half full came up behind me. It didn't make any sense to let her go ahead, so I finished putting things on the belt as the cashier began to check me out. Another women, with a few items in her hand joined the line. The two women behind me began grumbling about how long it was taking and how ridiculous it was that there was only one cashier. I found it amusing that the two people who didn't care were given the opportunity to go ahead and the two people who wanted things to move faster were forced to wait. It may have been something for them to learn; it may have been something for me to learn. It may mean something; it may mean nothing at all. A curiosity.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My relationship with food...

...I typed the title and my hands started to shake. Deep breath. Let it go. I'm overweight. My doctor wants to put me on a diet and exercise. I'm willing to do the exercise, and have, but food is not up for discussion. Ever.

Weight loss is all in my head. Really. A few years ago, I was biking ninety miles a week. Yes, you read that correctly, 90 miles a week, and I wasn't losing weight. Well, I had been losing weight, and then my mother mentioned how great I was starting to look. I put on ten pounds in less than two weeks. Within a month, I'd gained twenty pounds. It wasn't long before I hit my highest weight ever. My relationship with my mom isn't healthy.

I used food as a reward. I used food as a punishment. I used food to stuff my feelings and even my thoughts. I've used food to gain attention and praise. At the bottom of it all, I used weight as a shield. People don't look at you if you're fat. They look around you or through you, which suited me fine because if they didn't pay attention that meant I didn't have to worry about unwanted attention. I've had short periods of time when I felt "safe," and I quickly lost weight, without any effort. Brilliant plan! I'll simply lose weight once I feel safe! Then I realized what I was doing. I was putting off what I wanted for someday.

Someday, too often, never comes. So, God and I had a little talk. What could I do to help me make someday today? Especially since safe isn't something I'll be experiencing anytime soon. If a door is closed, God will open a window, and I was asking for that window. The answer came in an unexpected way. I decided to re-invest in my food storage plan. Only this time, I'd be smarter about it. I'd make better choices. I'd actually choose what I wanted, and I would use it. I will rotate my food, which means actually using it, this time! Last time, I ended up throwing most of it out because it was years (more than a few) beyond the use-by-date. I've also learned that I am very happy without a lot of things as long as I have a few specific things. I'm also learning that though I like this, I can make do with that. I'm learning to make and be content with different choices.

Since I've been rebuilding my food storage, I've discovered that I'm not nearly as frantic about food. I eat less, and I actually do eat better because I'm making healthier choices for my storage. I know it isn't what some health fanatics would recommend, but I am never going there. Diet and nutrition have been crammed down my throat and used to shame me my whole life. I like a common sense approach, and I'm discovering it is working for me. I stopped beating myself up and stopped reading all the diet books and articles because they all start with "eat whole grains." I'm allergic to bran. Makes me sick, causes acne, and you should see what it does to my skin if I touch it, or maybe not. If it does that to the outside, can you imagine what it does to the inside? I'm learning how to listen to myself, to recognize when I'm full, to trust that I know what I want, to believe that I'm actually pretty smart and capable. The war with food is no longer a battle; it has become a game, and it's fun to play.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on the scanners...

...because it clearly has lit a fire in my belly. I'm angry that the government has legalized sexual assault for themselves. I'm terrified of how I may actually respond in the situation. I live in a city that has been promised scanners, so it's a real fear, not a what-if-someday.

When the Patriot Act was first enacted I was alone in my complaining. I could see the rights slipping away. I knew it was only the beginning. I grumbled to myself because no one would listen. All I heard was, "Well, it's the price of safety." What safety?! Before, I was afraid of the terrorists and the criminals, those who wished me harm. Now, I'm afraid of the terrorists, the criminals, and the government, those who wish me harm and those who say they're here to protect me. Why don't I feel protected? Why do I feel violated?

There are those who are saying that the ones who are complaining are those who are demanding they be kept safe. Oh, really? I beg to differ. That may be true in some cases, but not mine. "They" say that if something happened, then those same people who complained would blame Obama. Why?! Why not place the blame squarely where it belongs, on the terrorists!

I don't expect anyone to protect me. No one. Because I know no one will. I KNOW IT! Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. So, I can live in fear that something will happen, but why? It already has! What's the point? Or, I can live my life as fully as I am able.

For those who are rolling theirs eyes and thinking, yea, but it's different when it really happens. I already know. I had my tickets and all my plans to go to Europe. My departure was only a few days away, and the U.S. bombed Libya. Every single person I knew who had plans to go to Europe cancelled. Everyone expected me to cancel my plans. It wasn't safe. Libya promised retaliation. I knew England was a whole lot closer than America. I knew the risk was high.

All I could think was that this was my chance to go, and if I died, so be it. My chances of dying in a car accident are far higher. I could be struck by lightening! I could be hit crossing a street. I could be shot by lunatics out target practicing on people. I could fall down a flight of stairs. The possibilities are endless. We are all going to die. No one is getting out of this world alive.

So, do I live in fear, quaking in my boots, whining for someone to protect me, or do I step out boldly (shaking in my boots) and LIVE. I went to Europe. IT WAS FANTASTIC!! I loved it! I had the place practically to myself, and everyone was so thrilled I came and begged me to tell everyone when I returned home that it was safe so they'd visit.

In fact, I extended my trip. The original plan was to stay for six weeks. I added another eight weeks, despite the fact that shortly after I arrived, Chernobyl happened. God bless those souls. I wanted to see Holland and France; I had friends there. My friends in England discouraged me from going because of the cloud of radiation spreading across Eastern Europe. It wasn't safe. I watched, and again decided, if I die, so be it.

I went to Holland and France, and LOVED IT! The whole trip was worth every single moment. My only regret was that I didn't take my uncle's offer to arrange for a green card and stay longer. But God had other plans for me that I felt I should follow. I was blessed with the trip of a lifetime. Because I refused to live in fear of things beyond my control.

All that being said, I've also been watching how others are handling this. I cannot bring myself to blame the TSA agents who are doing their job. I know myself well enough to realize that though I'll spout everything I'd like to do, I wouldn't. It's like when your little brother eats the last piece of cake and you swear you're going to kill him. Everyone knows you're not. It's a way to release the frustration, hurt, and anger without doing serious damage. I have seen some humorous approaches that I quite like. Hopefully, I will not need to ever face this nightmare, but if I do, I pray I handle it with grace and kindness. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. If I calm myself, He will inspire answers I never would have imagined on my own.

Now, the choice is mine: Allow myself to wallow in anger or allow myself to seek God's inspiration. What will you choose?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some things that made me smile...

Yesterday, I updated my computer. I was so frustrated when my internet connection crashed, repeatedly. What happened? What kind of update was this? Fortunately, I've learned to email my sister. She doesn't always have the answer, but she does give moral support and helps me remember that it isn't me that's the problem. Then, today, on Facebook, someone else mentioned having trouble with their internet connection, yesterday, with the same company. It wasn't me! It wasn't even my computer!! It was THEM! I love my computer!!

On a different note, I wanted to express my appreciation and pride in my dad. We have had feral cats in the neighborhood for years. Last April or May, one of the cats had kittens, in a back corner of the house. My dad accepted responsibility, and searched for help, then made all the arrangements to "fix" the cats, so there wouldn't be anymore. He was frustrated because he only caught two the first try, then only one. This last weekend, he was making one more attempt. I prayed to God for my dad's success. God hears and answers prayers. Dad caught the other five. Thank you, God, for unexpected blessings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Carpe diem... not an easy one...

As seen in my previous post, I emailed my senators. I thought about it, and re-wrote, and re-wrote, and tweaked, until finally I prayed it would convey the appropriate message without being too off-putting, which accomplishes nothing. I spent the day writing that short note. I'd do something else for a while, and then come back to it, again, and again, and again, until I felt it was finished. Now, my heart is pounding, my hands are shaking, and my breathing is short, and I find myself asking, "What have I done?" Whenever I feel this way, I've usually done something right that scares me silly.

What else did I accomplish, today? A bit of reading, when I wasn't mulling over the letter. A load of laundry. Some yummy meals. And a decision to go through my things and cull what I do not use. This is something from FlyLady that I love and have kept: To keep it, you have to love it, not simply like it. It's also easier to let go of somethings that I like, if I know it will bless someone else's life.

Letter to my Senators...

Dear Senator,
I am a sexual abuse surivor. Regarding the new airport "security": Sexual abusers threaten their victims with their lives or those of their loved ones if they don't comply, so you are afraid to rescue yourself. Then a sexual abuser humiliates you, so you don't feel you're worth rescuing. Then a sexual abuser tells you it's for your own good, and they know what's best for you. How is what the TSA is doing different from what my abusers did, except that now I have no recourse and this is sanctioned by the government? Why am I going to be treated like a criminal? I've never had a ticket in my life. What happened to my right to modesty? I would be more than willing to allow a bomb-sniffing dog to check me thoroughly. I would be willing to come three hours early for a security check the way ELAL does rather than be subjected to further sexual abuse. You are in my prayers.
May God help us all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #29...

~What a blessing to know God loves me and shows me every day, with sunsets and sunrises, flowers, plants, butterflies, animals, refreshing water, delicious food, the dearest of friends, good books, beautiful music, stars that twinkle, fond memories of precious souls who have enriched my life but now are Home with Him.
~What a blessing to learn about myself, my likes and dislikes, my strengths and weaknesses.
~What a blessing to have the opportunity to grow and change, to become more in tune with God and His plan for me.
~What a blessing to appreciate all that comes my way, good and bad, for God works all to my good, sooner or later.
~What a blessing to accept Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer.

DOING A HAPPY DANCE!

CARL WON IN PHOENIX!!! *WILD CHEERING* Good to see the backflip again! It's been too long! Whoohoo!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Coming to an airport near you...

Full body scanners. Have you seen the pictures?! When did pornography become sanctioned by the government?! Nov 24, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, is being dubbed National Opt Out Day. Opting out means instead of being x-rayed for naked pictures, you will win a complete and thorough body pat down. The purpose is to make it so embarrassing that people will not opt out. I'm horrified and terrified by both options. My history makes it even worse. My personal morals are screaming. I will not be flying Nov 24, but I will be a few months later. Here is what I plan to do: First, I will opt out. I will do so in a voice that the entire area can hear, including announcing that I want it done in public with an officer present because I've been molested by family members, dates, and strangers, and if it's going to happen again I want plenty of witnesses. I will NEVER be a silent victim again. I will not be embarrassed or cowed. No one is allowed to bully me anymore, not even my government. Then I'll throw up on their shoes.

WHOOHOO!!!! GO CARL!!! AGAIN!!

Two weeks in a row!! Carl Edwards dominated today's Nationwide race, leading 153 of 200 laps, at PIR Phoenix International Raceway. Fantastic! Happy dance!! :-D

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day....

May God bless our military as they serve this country. Thank God for all those who serve and all those who have served. Freedom isn't free because there are those who feel the need to control others. My gratitude for those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice is deeper than I am able to express. And please God, keep as many as possible and more from having to make that sacrifice. God bless the families that love and support their loved ones in the military, for they make a sacrifice as well. Thank you for ensuring the opportunity for me to openly live my life in a way I hope pleases God in a world where that isn't possible without great risk of death. I would hope I'm courageous enough in my convictions to be willing to die for my faith, but more importantly, I hope I'm courageous enough to live for my faith. Yesterday, was the birthday of the Marines. Ooh-rah! And thank you again to all those who serve.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Carpe diem

I'm feeling like I didn't accomplish much, but I have a vaguely out of sorts feeling, and considering the time of the month... well, cutting myself some slack. What I did manage to accomplish: Laundry. Called about a bill mixup. Discovered a new author I like and three I don't. Worked on a special project. All my sugar is now in plastic bags. Much needed chat with my sister. Caught up on internet stuff, I think.

See, sometimes, we're too hard on ourselves. Unfortunately, there is also that unsettling feeling that there is something I've forgotten. However, what it is, I do not know. Hopefully, it won't come back and bite me later.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #28...

~Cooling weather!
~Faith in God
~Laughter with friends and family
~Peace of mind
~Beautiful roses
~Books!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

WHOOHOO!!! GO CARL!!

Carl Edwards won the Nationwide race in Texas, today. No cable means I could only watch the leader board on NASCAR.com, but it was still great to see that checkered flag and Carl's name in the #1 slot. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find footage of the winning backflip. Much sadness. Got to love a man who can do a backflip and does it because he knows the crowd loves it. LOL!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rumor: 42% turned out to vote...

...so if you voted, yesterday, GOOD FOR YOU! You are part of the ruling aristocracy. :-) Even if what you wanted didn't succeed, you made your voice heard.

Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying no campaign ads? I learned something this time around: Truth in advertising does not apply to campaign ads. The difference this year? I'd done my homework. I knew which ads were true and which were twisted so as to be barely recognizable. I used to turn them off in disgust. This time I watched and made sure I had the facts. Somehow the label "sheeple" doesn't sit well with me.

I laughed when I heard someone say that campaign ads aren't about the candidate but about what they think of you. Ummm... isn't that the general rule of advertising? When I complain to my advertising sibling that this or that commercial is really stupid, said sibling looks at me with a "duh" expression and says, "They aren't targeting you." Oh. So, should I be offended that I'm being left out or relieved?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Carpe diem... Happy Halloween...

...a day late, but life happens... well, church, football games, NASCAR, Sherlock on PBS... and here we are, Monday, already, 1 November, already! Where does the time go? Made pancakes, Laundry, laundry, putting away Halloween decorations and pulling out Thanksgiving ones, catching up with reading, sorting through Christmas anthologies, enjoying my new Hot Chocolate Pot and frother! Fun! And yummy! My November calender picture is gorgeous! A Friesian. Also recovering from Halloween candy overdose. Better than previous years, but still a bit to be desired. Working on it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A bit of silliness, and a bit that isn't...

Yahoo periodically has these little animations on their page, "advertising" a holiday or event. Right now, I love their Halloween animation of the headless horseman. The pumpkin's facial expressions are fun.

It's difficult to let go of things that once felt right but no longer do, saying goodbye to "friends" that once held a spot of warmth and gladness but now bring more sadness than joy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maybe not so odd...

On my morning walk, as I almost reached home, what do I see? Another shooting star! How cool is that? Still smiling. The world is changing, and I may choose: Stand alone and live in fear, or live in faith and stand with God. I choose faith.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One of those odd little blessings...

I was up early this morning to go for a walk and work on trimming the blackberry bushes. It was still dark. I glanced up at the sky, and there was a shooting star. Thanks God, it made me smile all day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Carpe diem... fantastic weekend...

Last Thursday, I flew to L.A. for the Tolkien Forever Hall of Fire. What an incredible undertaking. Bless all those who put in so much time and effort. I'm very good at doing simple tasks that don't require any creative input, but we had a couple of true artists who could take "junk" and make it really cool. Amazing!! Rocks and cloth and lights became Gollum's pool. Old trays, candlesticks, tea sets, plastic Mardi Gras beads, decorative pebbles, plastic "jewels," gold plastic chips, and more cloth and lights became Smog's horde of treasure. Wow! There was a lot of singing and dancing and simply the joy of associating with people who all love Tolkien and LOTR. After the party, the next day was spent cleaning up. I'm very good at cleaning up. :-) It was a delight to be a part of something so loved and enjoyed. My friends also made sure I was able to visit the beach. And we talked and talked and ate well. I came home, today, feeling better than I have in a long time. Work is now all caught up. I'm almost all caught up on emails. I'm caught up on most of my websites and figure I'll simply start tomorrow with most of them, without trying to catch up on what I've missed. I'm unpacked, and ready to start the day, tomorrow. My folks took me to the airport and my younger brother picked me up and took me to pick up my work for the day as well. A very productive day and past week. God blessed us with cool weather so setting up and cleaning up weren't unbearably uncomfortable. It was beautiful all weekend with some incredible rain. Not often do I have the opportunity to see the Misty Mountains. :-) And finally, today, I filled out my sample ballot so I'm ready to vote, next week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thank God for...

~Blessed rain.
~Blessed cool.
~Good books.
~Good friends.
~Blessed opportunities.
~Good weather.
~Good work.
~Blessed inspiration.
~Blessed Savior.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gandhi quote...

Saw this, today, and it touched a painful spot in me, healing it a little.

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they *fight* you… then you win.”

And reminding myself that Gandi's definition of fighting is not with fists but with patience and standing firm.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Carpe diem... a good day...

Made cookies, read a little, wrote a little, caught up on this and that, packed a box for mailing, enjoyed a bit of emailing with friends. Overall, a lovely day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thank goodness it's Sunday #27...

~NASCAR on ABC! So I was actually able to watch the race! Though I'm very grateful for Yahoo's chat where Jay, Jay, and Nick keep us pretty up to date on what's happening, it isn't quite the same as watching for myself.

~Fantastic football, this weekend! Overtime I enjoyed and overtime I didn't, but not complaining.

~Church was uplifting from the very first song, one of my favorites: Count Your Many Blessings. Not the title but the theme. Love it!

~Fun family visiting.

~Looking forward to visiting friends!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Confrontation...

I hate it when God decides to drive a point home. It's annoying. Almost like rubbing one's nose in it. However, it's also incredibly effective. Worse, I asked for it. Consider carefully what you're asking when you ask God to help you learn something. He will take you seriously.

Last week, I had an unsettling event. I emailed my counselor asking for advice. I managed to figure it out on my own, but my counselor asked a valid question: Why were you surprised? I realized I wasn't surprised by what happened, but I was unprepared for the timing. I felt ambushed. A little time to think things through, and I settled, realizing I needed to simply let it go.

Now for the nose rubbing: I've watched with interest the brouhaha over Bill O'Reilly's appearance on The View. I don't watch much of Bill O'Reilly. I find him abrasive and condescending, but it sells, so I have the right to not watch him, and we're both happy. I don't watch The View either. I also find them abrasive and condescending. I don't watch either program regularly, but I do know the general script. Let me repeat: I know the essential script for both programs without watching either one regularly. I've caught bits and pieces. Now, we come to what happened the other day. Clue 1: Bill O is Bill O. Clue 2: Bill O is known for saying what he thinks. Clue 3: Bill O is promoting his book Pinheads and Patriots (that title alone is a clue). Clue 4: The View is The View. I know they promote their panel as being well balanced between liberal and conservative, but everything I've seen has had a definite liberal bent (the reason I choose not to watch). It's like lighting a match next to an open can of gasoline and being surprised when it blows up. Why is anyone surprised by what happened? Why is anyone shocked? The View is ultimately the one responsible. They invited Bill O. They got exactly what they wanted: Confrontation. Drama sells.

Now, to circle back to my own lesson. I shouldn't be surprised when I have been given clue, after clue, after clue. God's clues start out tiny, usually. Yes, I have been stubborn enough that He's had to work His way up to the proverbial 2x4 to smack me up side the head. I'm endeavoring to not push Him that far as often. How often have I heard "Pick your battles?" I'm endeavoring to take responsibility for the messes I instigate because I want something that God has tried to tell me isn't what's best for me. There is unavoidable confrontation, but there is also avoidable confrontation. I'm endeavoring to recognize the clues and make my choice before I'm stuck with no choice but to fight. Confrontation will find you, so why go hunting for it if it isn't absolutely necessary? I'm endeavoring to learn to walk away when it doesn't really matter, and learning what I need to know so that I'll have the strength and courage to stand when I need to hold my ground.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Carpe diem... this and that...

I sorted through bills, prepping for tax time. I did laundry. I made pancakes. I've done a bit of reading. I caught up at Beck U, so I'm ready for the new semester, starting this Wednesday. Feeling a bit scattered, but 'tis to be expected, and in spite of that, blessedly, I managed to accomplish more than I planned.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thank goodness it's Sunday #26...

~Walk for the Cure. This was my fifth year walking with my sister, a nine-year survivor. My niece and her team Because... joined us for the third year in a row. Amazing to see all those people joined in a common cause for good. Sad to see how many had lost loved ones; wonderful to see all the survivors.

~Arnica, great for bruises.

~Anne Gracie, romance writer. I haven't done a reading list in a while. I've been reading a lot of new authors, exploring styles and ideas, and wondering why I enjoy romance novels. Anne Gracie's latest book was released this week. I pre-ordered so it arrived fast. She has a wicked funny sense of humor that always catches me laughing out loud. Her characters are admirable and vivid. She has a gift for being able to write a lot of characters distinctively enough that they don't blend together. I could tell you the names of the five younger siblings of the heroine, the aunt, brothers and friends of the hero, the Rev and his wife, the weasels, and myriad friends and servants. I own all her books, and only lament that she only writes about one book a year, but the care is clearly there, and worth the wait.

~The chance to start over. Re-starting the 40 days/40 nights challenge.

~Cooler weather. Yay!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bits and Bobs...

Buttermilk Syrup made without the vanilla is still delicious, simply a milder flavor. I need to trust myself. The syrup didn't look quite right, and I couldn't figure out why. I figured my memory was faulty. It wasn't. Details matter. However, it's good to know that if I don't have vanilla, the syrup will still taste yummy.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling. I read this through the first time, months ago. I struggled with it, not understanding at least half. I've done a lot of learning, and now it scares me silly because I understand. The only thing I needed to look up was "Feminian Sandstones." At first, the only place I could find any reference to this phrase was within the poem itself. A little more searching, and I learned it refers to a building material used to construct medieval churches. And it makes sense. It's a dark poem that comes from a dark time in Kipling's life, and yet I find in it a call to stand more steadfastly on God's side. In the world being created by those who believe in the good of the collective, I have no place. The choice is mine: Live in fear or live with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.

Food is a mammoth struggle for me, with more pitfalls and traps than a Dungeons and Dragons maze. The history is ugly and riddled with nonsense, guilt, and survival, but I haven't given up hope in my ability to tame this particular dragon. I stopped investing in diet books or even reading diet articles for the simple reason being that the first thing they suggest is eating whole grains. I don't know anyone besides me who is allergic to bran. No whole grains, of any kind, whatsoever. White flour, white rice, no problem. It's been a blessedly quiet week, and it's given me the opportunity to focus, and I've learned a few things, which I've been putting into practice. If it isn't a permanent change, it won't make any difference what I've done. But neither will I beat myself up. I'll keep searching.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weathertop...a significant date in the history of Middle-earth...

For those of you unfamiliar with the reference, Weathertop is where Frodo was stabbed by the Witch King, in LOTR. Frodo is never quite the same after this event. Unfortunately, in the movie, Peter Jackson felt the need to portray Frodo as a cowering bundle of nerves, dropping his sword, and trying to hide by putting on the Ring. Not so. Frodo is afraid. He does put on the Ring because he feels compelled to do so beyond his ability to resist. Then he sees the terrible visage of the Witch King, and though he is afraid he still attempts to strike the monster with his sword. It isn't clear if Frodo actually succeeds in hitting the Nazgul's foot or only his robe. It doesn't actually matter since no serious damage would have been done. However, it does bring out a perspective I have long held. Though Frodo gave in to the compulsion to put on the Ring at Weathertop (a foreshadowing), and he finally gave into the need to claim the Ring at the end, it does not negate that he was courageous and what he accomplished only he could do, as flawed as it was, and it benefited all of Middle-earth.

I've oft heard quoted "God will not give you more than you can bear." Here's the actual scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that ye may be able to bear it." (Please note that it specifies temptation not trials. The two are not one in the same.)

Too often we are the ones who set the limit on how much we can bear, and when we "fail" our own expectations we castigate ourselves for not doing better. This is when we must remember another scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7: "For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

God sees our full potential. Only He knows what we are truly able to bear. How do we know our full potential if we don't ever reach the breaking point? Then again, we are more than capable of putting ourselves in the way of temptation beyond our ability to bear without any help at all. We are weak sinners, every one of us. God knows this and that's why He prepared a way before the world was. He provided a Savior. Despite our stumbling through this life, God is more than able to bring our very existence forward to the good of mankind. The question is, at the end of it all, are you able to look back on your life and say with all honesty that you truly tried to follow where God led you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Carpe diem... a good day...

Rain blew threw this afternoon. Needed and appreciated.

I've been catching up with some reading I've wanted to do, including reading up on the Props that will be on the ballot in November. I saw a sign that advertised voting no on a list of props to protect the state constitution. Then I saw at AZshooter that the same billboard was mentioned and someone they knew had done the homework to find out who was behind it. Saved me the time. So I've looked at those Props myself now, and I will vote for several of them to protect my constitutional rights. When I worked for the airlines we acquired a new computer system that was so easy anyone could operate it. All you had to do was RTDT: Read The Darn Thing. So before November, read the Props! Find out what they really mean. And whether it's a yes or no vote you need to make to accomplish what YOU want.

I've become amused by the campaign ads because of how often facts are twisted. Ads give me information to investigate. I will not be a sheeple, led about by ads and those who think they know better than I do. Do your own homework!

The question was asked: Is America special? This is what I wrote to a friend last May: When I originally went to England, I only planned to stay six weeks. I took a week tour of Scotland and planned to come home. I'd finished travel agency school, so I was between school and entering the work force. Once I arrived in England, I began to realize just how close France was. I'd taken French in college, before going to Thailand. It seemed ridiculous to be so close and not actually go! So, I talked to the parents and arranged to stay eight more weeks, including two weeks on the continent, several days in Holland, and then down to Paris. I was only in Paris about a week and a half, staying half the time with different friends. I frequently likened myself to a poor little rich girl, except I wasn't rich. I lived on practically nothing, ie, my own money which was almost nil, but I stayed with friends who lavished me with their kind hospitality. It was amazing.

I've also traveled all over the US and lived in Yellowstone one summer, and it's nothing like living abroad and coming home. Coming home from Thailand, I had spent 16 months meticulously not comparing the countries because I wanted to be able to focus on my missionary work and pining for home wasn't helpful. When I went to Europe, I allowed myself to see the differences. I loved my time there, but I cried when we touched back in New York. I was home. There are times I wish I had taken my uncle's opportunity to help me get a green card and work in England, but I was doing the best I knew how, at the time.

There is a spirit in America that exists nowhere else on earth. A sense of freedom and opportunity to grow and explore. With the way our government is ballooning, I have considered moving, but there's nowhere I love as much as here. So, I stay and endeavor to stand, in my own quiet way, to uplift and encourage the basic premise of this: my Home, freedom, courage, the right to choose, the right to fail or succeed, and the right to pick myself up when I fall and try again, without someone else taking all the credit for knowing what's best for me without knowing me at all. It's something I'm already all to familiar with, so I recognize the signs. God bless America and grant us mercy we may not deserve but desperately need.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thank goodness it's Sunday #25...

~Seasons. Still hot during the day, but cool at night. Whew! Changed my desktop to a fall picture since I won't be seeing any leaf changing myself.

~Computers that keep me in touch with dear friends and allows me to follow my interests with ease.

~Books, of course, especially when they inspire me to think and question.

~Yummy cookies! I really like THE cookies. And there is something about cookies and milk....

~God's everlasting patience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank God for the little miracles...

...the ones that aren't life changing or in some way tied to one's eternal salvation. I'm talking about those little miracles that are completely unnecessary. The ones that might make life a little easier or not. The ones that you could easily live without because you'll find a way through the problem. These are the miracles that remind you that God is aware of you, as an individual, some small thing that whispers, "I am aware of you and know your every need. You are not forgotten. You are not alone. I am here, always."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Carpe diem... yea, sure...

Have you ever had one of those days when you wish you had simply crawled back into bed, with your blankie, and stayed there until, tomorrow?

This was definitely one of those.

I'm back to taking the bus, as it's cooling down again, but I'm leaving a little later, so the bus isn't quite as crowded. However, the bus driver decided to take his break one stop before mine. Why? The place he stopped was in the sun. My stop was in the shade. It was faster for me to walk, so I did. Not a bad thing, simply a change in my routine that throws me off a little. Thank God for public transportation that however roundabout gets me where I need to be.

Returned home, none the worse for wear.

Put my contacts in. A legalized American torture: Slip while putting your contact in so it slides up off your iris and up under your eyelid, far enough that you can't reach it. Much screaming and sobbing ensues. The tears blessedly help to move the contact down far enough that you can reach it with the tip of your fingernail and drag the weaselly piece of plastic back down where it belongs. It is good to not live in a blur, and to have my peripheral vision back. Thank God for contacts, even if they are a pain.

Survived and decided to try famous Joanne Fluke Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder mystery cookies, only instead of Rice Chex I used Rice Crispies. Note: Rice Crispies do not work as well, not enough substance. Still yummy, but not as chewy. So far so good, except that a repairman came that I hadn't been told would be coming in the morning, while I was baking the cookies. I let him in. Mad at myself for making a stupid error that could have been much worse, except that the guy blessedly was really nice. Unfortunately, it threw off my routine, again. By the time I finished straightening out what was to be done, I'd forgotten that the cookie sheet I'd just pulled out of the oven was still hot. Thank you, thank you, yes, second degree burns, blistered. Thank God for aloe vera and Mums Blend. Will not mention how much cold water was run down the sink, after it ran over my fingers. My right hand. The dominant hand. Yipee skippy.

Personally, I'm disappointed in the new Hawaii Five-O. One more violent cop show, though I have to admit that the scenery is stunning, but so is CSI Miami's. Not pretty enough to put up with all the mayhem. I'm even finding the cooking shows aren't holding my attention. Thank God for books.

And finally, the weather is cooling down. The peasants rejoice. Unfortunately, there is something that loves this cooler weather that doesn't love me, so my allergies are bothering me. Thank God for Claritin-D.

I managed to accomplish quite a bit, all things considered, so maybe I should finish with a little cheese.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #24...it isn't what you think it is...

Today is Pulpit Freedom Sunday. I'm praying for all the pastors, ministers, rabbis, etc, who are choosing to "preach from their pulpits...about the moral qualifications of candidates seeking political office." This statement was originally posted at the Alliance Defense Fund website. It is now an annual event, starting back in 2008. The purpose is to challenge the IRS ruling that they can't speak about anything political and claim nonprofit status. This is a tax regulation, not a law; a regulation that did not exist before 1954.

Do I want my church leaders telling me which party to vote for? No. Do I want my church leaders telling who I must vote for? No. Would I be offended if they told me to educate myself about the leaders and issues and vote? Absolutely not. (In fact, I wondered why it was usually avoided. Now, I know.) Would I be offended if they did an investigation into the candidates and shared that information with me? No. If they told me that the choices I made were offensive to God because I disagreed with them, I'd have to respectfully consider whether or not my choices were in keeping with what I had been taught at church and whether or not I truly agreed with it or not. That being said, the church does have the responsibility to teach values and principles. However, ultimately, the state of my soul is between me and God.

The real crux of the problem: Separation of Church and State. History lesson: This does not mean that church and government are never to mix, contrary to popular opinion. It is true that there are plenty of examples of how badly it turns out, but consider that it is frequently the government using religion as a reason to do what it wants. (Zealots are a whole different story.) Now, the truth: Wikipedia said it best and most succinctly: An off-shoot of the original phrase, "wall of separation between church and state," as written in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist's Association in 1802. Jefferson was responding to a letter that the Association had written him. In that letter, they expressed their concerns about the Constitution not reaching the State level. The 14th amendment had not yet been ratified, thus leaving the States vulnerable to state legislation. In Jefferson's letter, he was reassuring the Baptists of Danbury that their religious freedom would remain protected - a promise that no possible religious majority would be able to force out a state's official church. The original text reads: "...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."[1] The phrase was quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947. The phrase appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, you read it correctly, there used to be official state churches. In fact, that was one of the struggles in congress, which they overcame, clearly, considering how often they prayed. It was never intended for religion to be kept out of government, but government was to be kept out of religion. The government was not to place restrictions on the free exercise of religion, in so far as said religion did not violate basic laws like thou shalt not kill. Is it possible that those who have no religion of their own are replacing it with government? I don't know. I do know that a government that believes it knows best how to run my life has nothing to do with God. Government is made up of people as imperfect as I am. They do not possess the power to save anyone from their mistakes. Mistakes always catch up with you, eventually, unless you repent (remembering that repentance is not a get-out-of-jail-free card; consequences are not negotiable). God knows I'll make mistakes that's why He provided a Savior, and a government or person or organization that pretends it can be a savior is lying. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. He is more than enough.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Carpe diem

I love learning weird little bits and pieces of information. For example, I was reading a historical romance, 1875, and the author mentioned cans of food on a shelf. My first thought was that it should be bottles, then I decided I'd better look it up. It started in 1809, with the Napoleonic Wars. They needed a way to preserve and transport large amounts of food. Bottles weren't travel worthy. What a surprise. Cans arrived on the seen in 1810. So, now you know when canned food first appeared, and why.

A bit of other research was accomplished for another project, as well as some writing and reading and still more research. A good day overall, I think.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #23

Today, I'm only posting one thing:

Peace Is Coming

I've seen several of the Jon McNaughton videos, and each has touched my heart. I chose this one in particular to share.

God bless all those who are willing to share their faith in Him, for it strengthens me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Constitution Day

When was the last time you read the Constitution of the United States of America? I did a few months ago and learned things I did not know. It was difficult reading for me, but also inspiring. So, celebrate Constitution Day and read the Constitution.

US Constitution

I have lived on three different continents. When I lived in Asia I was serving a mission. I worked very hard to keep my mind on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I endeavored to not compare but to simply enjoy the experience. When I lived in Europe I loved it. I'm so grateful I was blessed with such incredibly rich opportunities. As much as I loved my temporary homes, there is no feeling in the world like coming home to America. With all our bickering and nattering, there is an air here like nowhere else on earth. And I have never appreciated it more because I am finally waking up to the realization that I have taken it all for granted, and it's time to change, to study and to learn what God has given me, and more fully cultivate my gratitude to God for His mercies. God bless America.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A bit of silliness...

Have you seen the new SkyRider seats? The ones that are on the design table for future airline travel? I saw the announcement first yesterday, at Yahoo News, and again today. Walk with me through my thought process, possibly a dangerous journey but hopefully amusing, and at least I won't be alone.

Imagine: a standing seat for airlines. Really. Better yet, go find a picture and come back, I'll wait for you. (I really need to have my sister teach me how to post my own pictures, except that I wouldn't use the feature much.) Never mind. We'll start this exploration at the beginning, my first thoughts when I saw the picture of those seats:

worlds-narrowest-airline-seats

~Remember how you hated that guy for reclining his seat into your lap? Now he's practically in your lap and he hasn't moved his seat at all. There is no hope for a reprieve because that seat ain't movin'.
~Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to flight 13, the flying elevator, for the next three hours. Enjoy the ride.
~Don't plan on working on your laptop, unless it is one of those itty-bitty ones. Wait, is there even a table? Ooookkkaaayyyy, the iPad should be a shoe-in. It's small enough. Don't bother bringing binders or folders; there isn't room.

Then I read the article, and this paragraph stood out: "For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours ... this would be comfortable seating," he says. "The seat ... is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle."

Read it again. And think about it.

I owned a horse. Riding for three hours leaves me feeling it the next day or two or three. Even an hour can leave me miserable. And lucky you, your flight is delayed on the tarmac, for four hours. And just for the record: The only time I felt comfortable in the saddle for eight hours was after I'd had a couple of days of feeling horrendously miserable. Can't move miserable. Want to scream every time I move miserable. (Hey, when you only have four days to ride as much as you want, you do what you have to do.) Quit crying and drag yourself up there, even if you do feel like your leg muscles are being ripped in half. Lovely thought, I know.

Now, take the logic a little bit further. You know, think ahead. Consider the possible draw backs. One word: Turbulence.

I'm going to give you a minute to think about that one, though I imagine you've already seen the potential problem, particularly to the male population, though the women won't be too impressed either.

It only takes being on a bucking horse once to know it isn't comfortable no matter what gender you are. Now, I only fly but once or twice a year. Even so, I've had more than a few times that I've found myself slammed into my seat by a bumpy flight.

How in the world did this design ever make it out of the brainstorming stage? Inquiring minds want to know, or not.

Please, not the future of any flight for me. Oh, wait, what was I thinking? It isn't stated but clearly this isn't meant for the general public; this is for the svelte and perfectly fit. Isn't it? Just wait until you find yourself seated beside a basketball player, or better yet, a football player, or a child too big to be on a parent's lap. Yep, good luck with that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why I should be the poster child for the "new" America...

Yep, that's me. I was not allowed to work while I went to school. School was too important to be distracted by earning money. On welfare, I could have a place of my own, and I certainly qualify for it. Insurance is sky high. I'm overweight, and clearly need someone to tell me what to eat because I'm failing on my own. I've kept my head buried in the sand rather than look around at what's happening, so someone else should make the decisions about the things I know nothing about. I don't want to try to figure out what each candidate is really saying. Just tell me what to vote for, and I'll do it. I'm the only person in my family without at least a B.A. By every definition, I should want what the new government regime is offering.

I. DO. NOT. WANT. IT!

I was taught that Democrats were for the little guy, and Republicans were for the evil corporations; Democrats were peace-loving, and Republicans were warmongers. What I was taught was to be easy, non-confrontational, because everyone else was responsible, not me. I didn't have any power, so what could I do, really?

So how in the world did I turn out to be a capitalist down to my bones? It wasn't easy. There was a lot of learning, accepting responsibility, learning, creating healthy boundaries, learning, making priorities, learning, making mistakes, and more learning. Looking back, I recognize that it all came down to one thing: My free will, my right to choose.

It has been a gradual process, but one that has been escalating over the years. Several years ago, I began recognizing a pattern that really, really annoyed me. There were people that knew me well and wanted to make sure I never made the same mistakes again. Then I started to notice that there people who didn't know me or anything about me but were making assumptions about me. They were telling me what was best for me because they wanted to be sure I didn't make any unnecessary mistakes. If I only did everything they advised, I would be safe. Why did this all sound so familiar?

The adversary abhors freedom. If we're free, we might choose to serve God. God, who gave us freedom from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, to eat or not. He knew what would happen if Adam and Eve ate, and expected it. He gave Man the freedom to make mistakes. So it follows that the adversary would want to take away all freedom. What better way than to disguise freedom as dangerous? Do I really want to follow the insidious plan the adversary has so carefully constructed since the beginning of time? Or do I want to be willing to risk my very soul for the right to lay claim to the Atonement that God provided through His only Begotten Son? All that is asked of me is that I believe and follow Christ. With God all things are possible; the adversary whispers that all is lost with too many choices. It's too risky. It isn't safe. You might fail. You could be hurt. You could have trials. You could struggle. You could die. A rule here, another there, and oh, better make a rule for that little thing there, and that, and that, and that, and that... And in an effort to remain safe, we find ourselves bound in the chains of safety, not only not safe but lost.

Do I advocate that Capitalism is God's perfect plan? You're kidding right? People aren't perfect. Given all the plans that Man has come up with, Capitalism gives the most choices so far. I want more choices not fewer. Consider that in the Old Testament, God gave 10 Commandments. In the New Testament, we were given three. Fewer rules, with more far reaching meaning. But those three rules are based on the individual. The first great commandment is to love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength, and the second is like unto it to love thy neighbor as thyself. There isn't anything in there anywhere about someone else making sure I'm taken care of, nowhere. I'm willing to trust that the Atonement is more than enough for all the mistakes, bumbling, failures, and loss that life will throw my way. I'm awed and grateful that God inspired the Founding Fathers to create a country that would make it possible to choose my own way. I may succeed spectacularly, but I may also fail just as spectacularly, but hopefully in the process I will become what God intended. I choose the freedom God promised.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Carpe diem

You know those yummy chocolate chip cookies I told you about, from Joanne Fluke's Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder? I made them again, today, but made a substitution. When I tried them the first time I didn't have cornflakes, but I did have corn chex, so I used them. I thought they were yummy. This time, I thought that if corn chex would work, what about rice chex? Yummy!!! I think I actually like it better because corn has a stronger flavor than rice. Next time, I'm going to try adding rice crispies instead of chex. It would save time, no crushing, pour and stir in. A success. I made them all in under two hours. :-) Laundry was done. Glenn Beck is back from vacation, and I found myself amazed once again that things he discussed were things I've been thinking about.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11...

My sister and I went to the Healing Field first thing in the morning and again in the early afternoon. Our cousin would have been at the World Trade Center, except that he was taking his parents to the airport. My memory of that day is as clear as if it happened yesterday. I read card after card after card. Men, women, children. Husbands, fathers, sons. Wives, mothers, daughters. Brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts. Best friends. Pregnant women. Grandmothers and grandfathers. People starting new jobs, people soon to retire. People from large families, people who seemed alone. Each filled a place on this planet. Hobbies, pets, favorite sport teams, favorite activities, collections, hopes, dreams. Some cards held only the name, age, job, and location. Other cards shared memories that will be held in the heart forever. I read the cards because each person needs to be remembered. Each person deserves to be remembered. My life changed that day. I didn't realize then, but I look back now, and my world changed. My perspective changed. My path changed. I will always remember. Will you?

http://www.healingfield.org/staticpages/index.php/tempe

Friday, September 10, 2010

Do you really know what's in that box?

Anyone who knows me knows I love experimenting with food, trying new recipes, comparing recipes and foods. I don't have a problem with throwing away the failures. Sometimes you find something FANTASTIC. I recently tried Schwan's Lemon Butter Shrimp, and yes, it is incredible! Worthy of candles and china and crystal. I also tried Aunt Jemima's Buttermilk Pancake mix. I compared it to Kroger's in-house brand and Krusteaz. I like it. There's one little problem. The latter two mixes come in plastic bags inside the cardboard box. The AJ brand has no plastic bag. I know someone who used to work in a cardboard box factory. They talked about how dirty the work was, how hot and sweaty they got, handling the cardboard boxes. Lately, my brain has been... flighty. Isn't that precious? Great. I'm pouring mix from this cardboard box and I'm thinking of this person's sweaty hands moving the boxing material... think I'll stick with Krusteaz and Kroger's. Not as "green" but a little more mentally appetizing. My mind wandered a little further. Oatmeal comes in cardboard boxes, without plastic liners. I always knew there was something wrong with oatmeal. And for all those pleased with oil drilling moratorium, consider this: No oil, no plastic. Really want to go green? Remove everything plastic from your life, no buildings, all electronic devices gone (phone, TV, PC, printer, ereaders), motor vehicles of any kind (including bicycles and wheelchairs), no gardening (remember those little plastic carry alls your plants come in? or what about the bucket or tote you keep your tools in? or what about the tools themselves, that comfortable handle?), no books (covers), no Legos for the kids. I am ever astonished at how often people will cheer the demise of this or that because they see the end of what they view as evil, without thinking it through. How often have I heard people complain of the evil of the internet? The same internet that connects me to friends all over the world, which I think is a really awesome gift from God. And here we are back at Pancake Mix. Really. Did you know that they laminate a very thin film on those boxes? I did my homework. I found out for myself. Will I buy AJ pancake mix again? Probably not but only because I've had bugs eat through the cardboard but are less likely to eat through the plastic bag. Hate picking bugs out of mac and cheese. The real question is "What is your perspective of the world?" Did you decide for yourself? Or are you letting someone else decide for you? If it's the latter, that isn't why you're here. Why post this, today? I'm endeavoring to learn to decide for myself. I've learned that in order to make a decision, I have to know what the options are. Many of my decisions are made by the values and principles I hold dear, but if I don't know what those are, I will flounder. God asks of me to follow Him. I finally came to realize that I couldn't follow Him if I didn't understand what He was asking. How can I be honorable, if I don't know what honor is? How can I be faithful, if I don't know what faith is? How can I be charitable, if I don't know what charity is? How can I be honest, if I don't know what honesty is? How can I be courageous, if I don't know what courage is? It's one thing to have a working knowledge, it is something else entirely to claim it for one's self, to be possessed of it, to have it be such an integral part of you that you automatically choose what will be honorable, faithful, charitable, honest, because it's who you are. I want to be that, and that means working to be more than the minimum requirement. More importantly, it means that I must accept responsibility for who and what I am and what I become. It isn't easy. I make mistakes. It helps that the picture is clearer now, but only because I've done a lot of homework, studying, searching, digging, asking questions. The ground work is being laid, all part of the adventure.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Carpe Diem... TBR #28

Oh, my goodness, it's been quite a few books since last I updated by list. So, here we go: Once a Ranger by Carrie Weaver, another of my must-buy authors. She writes contemporary romances using heros outside the expected norm and makes it work. She did not disappoint. Read the first seven books of the Redstone Inc series. And loved them all. Justine Davis writes suspense romance. Lucy Monroe's next The Goddard Project book came out, Close Quarters, and again it was a page turner. Tara Tyler Quinn sent out an update email. She has a new project coming out, a four-book series all featuring Kelly Chapman. She writes romances about surviving abuse that speak from the heart. I always have to give myself extra time to read her books because I stop and think while I read. The beginning of the series is The First Wife. I'm looking forward to the rest, thankfully coming out over the next few months. Hate waiting. :-) Tried a couple of new authors that I really enjoyed. Kim Watters writes inspirational romance, and this was her debut book, On Wings of Love. Organ donation is not usually a central subject, but with Kim's personal touch she created a story with heart. I'm looking forward to what comes next. Today, I finished Tracy Kelleher's Falling for the Teacher, and loved it. The humor had me laughing out loud. Luckily, Tracy has another book coming out in a few months. Whoohoo!

Caught up on some reading, obviously. :-) Did a little cleaning of my storage room (still a long way to go, but it's started). Worked on a couple of projects. Overall, a relatively productive day.