Saturday, December 11, 2010

Algorithms

(This one might be a little deep for some readers. Enter with caution.)

Someone asked me tonight if it (being away from Craig, moving, etc) has been hard. At that moment all that went through my head included: yes, no, of course, not really, definitely. Can you imagine if I had answered that way? Instead, I took a pause and let the Holy Spirit clarify for me, “I take each moment as it comes.” I replied. Isn’t that such a non-answer?

The long answer is that there is nothing easy about being a mom, ever - so, things are just different. Its not really hard. It just IS. The worst part is this nagging feeling like I am meant for something else - here - but I can’t choose the right algorithm to find the answer. The problem is that I want to find an algorithm but when it comes to God, there aren’t a finite number of steps; therefore, the algorithm does not have enough information to provide a solution. What is the missing information? I know I am meant to have it. I know I will know what to do with it when I get it! I want it.

Tonights sermon bothered me. A lot. I’d love to tell you why. I have no idea.

Insolvable algorithm; one more week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dreamin in Penguin

About a year ago I started having dreams about baseball. This started around January or so, not during baseball season. The dream was never repetitive, just the theme. Anything that had to do with baseball, I dreamt it: home-runs, out on first, batting cages, watching baseball in bars, beers, darts… you get the idea. Fun! One night, as I prepared for my evening of sleep, I remembered thinking,"How much fun is baseball going to be tonight?" Even though I was slightly bothered by the repetitive nature of my dreams they were so awesome, I did not care.

One night, things got even cooler. The realistic colors of the world I knew became a little more vibrant. I had a new techno color scene that was reminiscent of the TV show Pushing Daisy’s. THEN, a penguin came on the field. Yes, a penguin was covering third base. He was really big too; he had on a red jersey and baseball hat. He got me out, but I think it was because I was afraid to run to third…there was a penguin in a uniform on third… don’t judge me.

After a few nights, penguins and I are hanging out on baseball fields and playing darts in bars. So the normal baseball pattern, but now with penguins (and friends too). I don’t remember when the dreams went away. I just remember having these dreams for months.

I honestly have not thought a lot about my baseball nights, UNTIL… tonight. I’ve had a great and full day and knew sleep would come fast. It did. Baseball! So, I’m in the stands waiting for a game to start and out on the field runs…

(wait for it)

A team of penguins.

It completely freaked me out. I woke straight up.

Now I can’t sleep.

The end.

HA HA, okay, its not really the end, I’m just punch-drunk and that seemed funny… Anyway. Does anyone else have repetitive dreams? I’ve had others since baseball, but nothing as long as baseball. They include:

- Hummingbird
- Wedding ring floating in slow motion (not mine), like in a cheesy movie with a blue sky and fluffy clouds in the background. I've had this dream at least 15 times over the last month.

That is all I can remember. I wish I could blame this on medication, but I don’t take anything.

Maybe it’s a tumor.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boston

Essential yet appealed.
You carry all your thoughts across an open field
When flowers gaze at you
They're not the only ones who cry when they see you
- Boston by Augustana

There is a visual and emotional effect that strikes deep into my heart when I hear this song, particularly these lines. For years I have wondered what is about these lines that create such emotion for me but lately I think I've come to understand.

It's a cry for sympathy and understanding for the suffering of the writer. The thoughts, carried across an open filed, are so heavy that even the flowers cry, and they are not the only ones. It's defining loss. At least, to me, I feel loss in these lines.

Loss and I are well acquainted foes. He seems to like me a lot more than I like him. Although, the season of loss I am entering (we're moving across the country, again) is far less of a sting than that of death, I am not ready to say goodbye; something is pulling at my heartstrings and weighing on my spirit.

Lately, I've been carrying my 'thoughts across an open field' a lot. I find myself wandering around outside shopping centers wanting to be with others, but really alone. It's like I'm expecting some sort of answer that I never get. It's like I am supposed to do something, but I don't know WHAT and it does not make sense. Is it this new season of loss that has me jumbled or is there something more?

I *know* that this is God's plan for us. I *know* something amazing awaits. BUT I *know* there is something left that needs to be done before I say goodbye. California will always hold a small sliver of my heart and I can't imagine never wanting to come back to reclaim it; but I don't want to leave anything unresolved, and I feel called to...something... So, until I leave, I will continue to pray and carry my thoughts across an open shopping center. I really do hope the flowers don't cry when they see me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

To the "I am"

You make no mistakes.

You prepared my heart and mind to handle this struggle.

Everything was orchestrated by the work of your hand.

You blessed me with the opportunity to trust and submit to you.

My selfish thoughts were trumped with your sovereign wisdom.

My foolish pride was overtaken by remembering your infinite grace.

In my darkest moment you compelled another to stand for me;

It was an unexpected blessing that I can not describe.

You used me as a vessel and it was painful,

But labor was rewarded with her personal breakthrough.

How blessed I am that you would choose me.

How blessed is she that you would create a symphony on her behalf.

Although I will never fully understand all that has happened,

One thing I most definitely know,

You make no mistakes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Being Selective

Today’s sermon on discrimination got me thinking about the difference between being discriminative and being selective. At first glance, to me, it felt by being selective in whom I choose to share my heart was really just me being a discriminative jerk. I felt kind of bad. However, I seriously have hopes that my kids will be somewhat discriminate when they choose their friends and in the future when they think about choosing a husband. However, I am always instructing them not to assume things about others because of how they look and to be kind to everyone.

I feel relieved to understand that being discriminating and being selective are two different things. When we discriminate we THINK we know things about someone based on their appearance. I believe these thoughts can be positive and negative. For example, I have a friend that is Italian and just beautiful. She always dresses immaculately with perfect makeup and hair; her look is always flawless. When I look at her I can’t help but wish I could always have it together like her. However, when she was suffering from depression the doctor would not give her medication. Instead, she told her, “What could you be depressed about!? Look at you!” My friend was rightfully upset about being placated because she wore Prada boots, had the latest handbag and a cute haircut. What was happening on the inside was scaring her; she was living in a dark, sad, place. So, because she was not walking around town in her pajamas with unkempt hair she could not be taken seriously. This is not the obvious form of discrimination, but it is discrimination and its equally wrong.

God instructs us to guard our hearts. We are vulnerable and influenceable; its part of the human condition. So, if we choose to be friends with people that are not good for us, then we will put ourselves at risk. What does this have to do with discrimination? Nothing really, and THAT is the realization that I had today! We can share life and love everyone while guarding our hearts. Not discriminating simply means not assuming things about another based on their appearance or what you think you know about them. It means to love the way that Jesus did and to always see them as one of God’s children.

CONCLUSION: Being selective with whom we choose to share our heart is not discrimination. It’s wise.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Just Never Complain

“I just never complain, that is the key.”

Someone said this statement to me last weekend. The topic does not matter; it applies to all situations, right? When he said it, I took a pause. I was thinking, Hm, I bet that takes a decent amount of restraint.

How does the idea of NEVER complaining grab you? I know the scripture, in fact just last week I repeated it myself so many times that I declared it my mantra:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing,” Philippians 2:14

It does not say to do SOME things without complaining. It says EVERYTHING, do everything without complaining and arguing.

Knowing this, what about when something seems exceptionally complain worthy? How can I learn to completely submit to scripture and not complain ALL the time? I’m not a huge complainer, to be honest, but I have my moments; I am definitely a ‘work in progress.’ I think the key is for me to recognize that this does not mean I don’t have an opinion. I can express my opinion in a way that is pleasing and non-argumentative. If I was unable to express my opinion? I would NOT fare well.

Some of the time I call complaining, venting. I just realized this is just another word for complaining. Will I ever really feel like I don’t need to vent? Man, I’m just not sure. When I really think about it, my best venting experiences - the ones that really help me feel better - happen with just me and Lord. I go running, or to the gym, on a long hike (nature always clears my head), I read scripture or listen to worship music. When I complain to someone else, I never feel really good and nothing gets resolved.

Another point, I just thought of, changing my perspective and choosing to see the best in all situations, choosing NOT to complain - at all - would leave me little to need to vent. Epiphany. That really is what God wants us to understand and grab with both hands. We can find contentment in most situations, if we allow ourselves.

I had Jury duty on Tuesday; 6 hours in a small room with 81 other people. The man next to me was snoring. At one point I said to myself, I think I found a place I hate more than the DMV. Then I realized it was not that bad. The snoring man was older and it was really sweet to see him sleeping. I got a lot of stuff done that I did not have time for at home. It was nice. It was a lot better than the DMV because I did not have to worry about losing my place in line, pay for anything, and no one yelled at me. Oh see that, I just complained about the DMV. I declare the DMV - off limits. :)

“I just never complain, that is the key.”
I’m doing it! Who’s with me?

Monday, June 28, 2010

He Made Clothes

I have been doing a bible study by John MacAuthor titled, Twelve Extraordinary Women. The first chapter is all about Eve. As a part of the study I read about creation, the fall and the curse, once again. However, this time God’s word revealed something to me that I had never really seen, with open eyes, before.


Even those that don’t know and have never read the bible know the story of creation: God made the world, made man in his own image; God saw a need in Adam so he made Eve. The only rule they had was not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent deceived Eve, she ate the fruit and gave it to Adam, he ate it; they realize they were naked and made clothes out of fig leaves. Then, the Lord came to the garden. Uh oh.


Yes, God comes to the garden to discuss why his only children, who were living in perfect existence, did the one thing he asked them not to do. Eve blames the serpent, Adam blames Eve and the serpent, well he says nothing, but my guess is that he must have been just as smug as could be because he accomplished is goal. God, being the loving father that he is must punish the disobedience, therefore, laying down the punishment or curse. This is the scripture:


14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring
[a] and hers;
he will crush
[b] your head,
and you will strike his heel."

16 To the woman he said,
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you."

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."

20 Adam [c] named his wife Eve, [d] because she would become the mother of all the living.


God delivers his ruling. He has to feel really disappointed and a little angry, right? After all, He gave them everything and they broke the ONLY rule. The serpent, Adam and Eve receive some understanding how their decision to be disobedient will affect them negatively from the moment they sinned and for the rest of their lives and the lives of all of their descendants. There is no doubt that they were feeling pretty horrible, too.


What happens next is where my revelation occurred. God is loving; he’s altruistic, and the next line of scripture proves it:


21The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”


He made them clothes!!


He does not need a few days to “cool off”. He does not leave them to continue looking ridiculous and uncomfortable in their fig leaf contraptions. He does not tell them how to make clothes. No, he takes the skin of an animal and makes them garments to prepare them for the future they were about to face outside of Eden. He meet them in their need and provided for them. This was an act of extreme love (actually, all of it was, but that is another topic) and grace!


Can you imagine being Adam and Eve at this time? Were they like, “No, Lord, really, we like the leaves. It’s okay, we’ll figure it out.” Then God made them perfect clothes and, of course, they were so soft, and lovely, and just awesome. Did Eve say to Adam, “After all we’ve done? Look at how the Lord God is still caring for us! How can he still love us so much?”


There is no end to His amazing love for everyone, even those that don’t believe in Him. He’s that amazing. I often wonder if we are even able to really comprehend this kind of love.


He made them clothes!


He sent His son!


Thank you God.

Friday, June 18, 2010

That’s so CREEPY

Centaurs:


Anything that is half human with hooves creates the kind of creepy response in me that most people reserve for spiders. I’m so glad they don’t exist for real, even if Craig illustrates them all the time like they are real, just to get a response out of me. He’s the best.


Doctors that wear scrubs in public:


Sometimes I hang out in a coffee shop right across the street from a hospital. Occasionally, a team of doctors come in wearing surgical scrubs. This really creeps me out. There just HAS to be human parts of some sick person on them some place; I’m pretty sure I saw something fleshy on the back of one of the doctors once. Not really. But, just because its not visible does NOT MEAN its not there.


Walking a cat:


Have you ever seen someone walk a cat, on a leash? There is nothing natural about it. The cat’s all jerky and weirded out. My only response is, “That’s so wrong!” If you want to take something on a walk, get a dog!


El Camino’s and thick mustaches:


What is it, half car, half truck? What does it want to be? It’s so creepy. I really can not explain it, but when I picture someone driving an El Camino I always imagine the same person: a middle aged man, receding hairline, the shirt he wears is stained and too tight and his shorts are too short. He sports a thick mustaches and reeks of cheap cologne and cigarettes. The floor of his car is covered in empty beer cans that have been crushed into submission. You don’t want your kids around this man, if you know what I mean.


If you’re reading this and own a El Camino. I’m sorry. Not only that you own a El Camino, but that my imagination is so cruel to you. However, am I right? I really want to know.


Giant Sun Fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:


Have you seen this thing? It’s as big as a Volkswagen Bug (but thin) and has a HUMAN buldgey eye. I’m sure it has two of these human-like eyes, but its so big you can only see one eye at time. A huge human eye, that does not blink, on a fish is down right creepy. It creeps me out so much that I can’t stop looking at it, because it won’t stop looking at me. *Shutter*


Alligators/Crocs:


Do I really need to explain? Creepy, RIGHT? I have nightmares. I’ve never moving back to Florida!


People that break out in song and dance:


Okay, I’ve never actually seen this happen, but since Glee is on, I imagine how much that would creep me out if I were some place like Yellow Wood and people started singing and dancing in full Broadway fashion.


Wait, that would be AWESOME!


What are you supposed to do when people sing Happy Birthday to you? Just wondering.


Since we’re talking about singing, don’t you hate it when your at a nice dinner and they come over and want to play a song for you while you’re eating? I HATE that. It’s so uncomfortable. Then you’re supposed to tip them and I never have cash and I don’t know what song I want them to play because I really just want them to leave but they keeping asking what the lovely lady would like to hear and why is everyone looking at me? It’s just horrible. Horrible.


OH! This is a late addition, but I also find Origami Worlds really creepy. See why here.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

He licked my leg!

Coming back from getting a cup of lemonade at church I passed a service dog - lick. He licked my leg. I don’t know how much you know about service dogs, but I have the pleasure of knowing a lot about them because Craig and I are in the middle of working on a children’s book about a service dog (Diane and Gracie). Service dogs are trained exceptionally well. Not all of them are restrained and smart enough to make the cut.


When you see a service dog harnessed they are “on duty”, meaning they are working and supposed to be doing only what they are trained to do. They are trained to turn off other instincts and focus on the job at hand. You are not supposed to pet them or do anything to distract them from their duties. When I passed this beautiful Black Lab I did not stop to say hello or pause as I passed him; he and his owner were walking in the other direction. Then - lick - he licked my leg! I don’t even know how he slipped it in with the moment we had in passing! As I bent down to wipe it off I thought, “He just licked me!” Then it made me laugh because he got away with it. His owner did not notice and he got a lick in!!


I think I’m like that black lab some of the time. I wanna stay focused on the duties at hand, but like to take a lick of life’s treasures too (not creating harm, of course).


I know tonight I needed it. I’ve had the flu for over a week and my ears are plugged and ringing, and I felt bad and looked bad, BUT, my legs looked good enough to lick, and that’s cool.


I have this scripture on my mind tonight so I thought I’d share it:


Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalm 139:14 (New Living Translation)

I’m glad he made dogs too!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Love/hate You

Television:

"...there was this blowhard teacher talking about how television rots your brain. He said when we are watching television our minds work no harder than when we are sleeping. I thought that sounded heavenly. I bought one that afternoon." Donald Miller - Blue Like Jazz


Isn't TV great? I love letting it entertain me! I hate it when I want it to entertain me and there is nothing ON!! 300 channels of NOTHING! Jet Blue has onboard TV and for which I find myself TV surfing for 6 hours straight, asking Craig what he is watching, wondering why I asked HIM when I know what he's watching… This is a form of torture.


Honesty:

Honest friends, situations that make us honest, honest answers, these are things I love!! What I hate is when people are less than honest. Safe to say, they are lying. I really hate that; in all forms.


Foreign Accents:

YES! I adore foreign accents of all kinds. I wish I could have one or even fake one, but the closest I get is Southern Kentucky, so basically, I can't pull one off.


The only time a beautiful foreign accents goes from adorable to really annoying, is when someone is speaking perfect english, with no accent, and they throw in the accent with certain words, as if they are calling it by the proper name in the proper tone. For example: MOZZERELLA! "So, to make this pizza we need to grab a handful of (say this with a perfect Italian accent rolling the r and ll's, and say it a little louder than the other words) MOZZERELLA(!!) and spread it around." If you've seen the little Italian lady on the Food Network, then you know what I mean.


Mini-Vans:

A lot of my friends have mini-vans. They are so great. It's like driving around in a living-room fully equipped with sofa's, TV's, there are always drinks, you could even hang curtains! At the same time, I hate mini-vans! I guess they are like someone else's living-room, they are fun to visit, but I don't want to go there every day.


Crazy-fun Girlfriends:

Crazy-fun girlfriends ROCK! They are hilarious! They are the first person you think of when you want to plan a girls weekend! Unless, you've already done a girls weekend with them, in which case, you know better. Crazy-fun girlfriends are the ones who want to leave with guys they shouldn't, the ones you have to pull off the bar before the bouncers intervene and the ones who end up in a drama crying fit and throwing up all night. Man I love/hate those girls!


Facebook:

Time sucker award goes to (wait for it..) FACEBOOK! I love that I can keep in touch with everyone. I hate that I am probably keeping in touch with way too many people. Plus, I am a terrible facebooker. I just don't keep up with keeping up and so many friends assume I am part of their conversation; I'm not. I have quilt.


Chocolate:

Just kidding, there is NOTHING I hate about Chocolate. Chocolate's the best: its brown (my favorite color), sweet, creamy, satisfying. I can eat it until I feel sick and eat it again after I puke - okay, not really. I do really love chocolate.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Drive!

Whenever I mention driving in New York to someone I always get the same responses, "Oh! Driving there is terrible!" or "I would never drive in the city there, it's too scary." The honest truth is that driving in New York is FANTASTIC!! New Yorker's drive like they act; everyone is always in a hurry and they don't have time for any nonsense. The greatest part is that if you make a mistake, or need to change lanes in a hurry, everyone completely understands and has no problem letting you do what you need to do (just don't hesitate). The one time they aren't so forgiving is when you don't drive with the same passion and quick agility as them. If you need to turn right into a shopping plaza, and slow down, slow down a little more, turn on your blinker - OH! This cues the other drivers that you need some quick schooling about 'how things work around here': honks, yelling and fingers fly. I promise the schooling does not take long and once you realize the error of you ways driving becomes liberating and really fun.


Driving in Orlando and most of Florida requires patience. A good number of those on the road are tourist that drive with the map open. This really makes the locals angry because we know that all roads lead to Disney World; you're almost there. Map driving mixed with the intense heat equals serious road rage. The kind of road rage that will get you killed. I've had my life threatened a few times and I didn't even have a map in the car! I just needed to put on some mascara (So! ). There is a lot of traffic in Orlando too, which mixed with the heat (are you getting that its HOT there), makes people cranky. I've seen drivers playing the violin, shave, and read books while driving. Floridians really are great multitasks but they aren't the safest drivers! If you shaved while driving in erratic New York you'd slit your throat, or someone else would do the deed for you because they don't have time for such nonsense!


This brings me to my current location, California. Here if you want to change lanes, you better have planned your move in advance. Drivers here have something against letting people into their lanes, as if they owned them. They won't even look in your direction if you put your blinker on and 'ask' to be let over. I've come to the conclusion that my blinker make me completely invisible. They are passive aggressive behind the wheel and in life. Which is a topic for another blog post. Anyone that has known me for more than a day knows how I feel about lies; I hate them, in any form. When i drive and people act like they don't see me, I feel like I've been lied to and it bothers me.


Californians, let someone over today; you'll be amazed how freeing it can be to let go of your driving-lie and welcome someone into YOUR lane.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hitting a Wall, Over and Over


This bird has been doing this for two days. There is another one, at a window in the kitchen that keeps tapping with her beak.


What do you suppose they want?


Chiara suggested I let them in and asks them to make her a frock. (Correction, she wants a BALLgown! For all the fancy Balls she attends.)
________
I did not pay attention to the song playing in the background, but it's kind of funny - like a love song to the perfect bird he sees reflected in the glass... "darling, you are the only exception..." (Paramore)

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's Always the Nice Guys

Years ago, I was working late at the office and I needed a post-it, or a sharpie, or something. Instead of making the walk at 1 AM to the supply room, which was in the next building, I decided to raid the desk of my co-worker. Jon was a decent guy: a Christian, Graphic Artist, really nice, had the cleanest desk in the area and I knew he would not mind if I borrowed an office supply, or if I went through his desk to find one.

Working until 1 o’clock in the morning meant, without a doubt, I had consumed a LOT of caffeine. I had an espresso machine in my area for our team to use during the proposal pushes and tight deadlines. I used it often, as did the team. Over the years I have been able to classify my caffeine use into these mood altering levels:

Good, normal

Energetic, happy

Hyper-aware (AKA paranoid)

Neurotic

Sleepy

At this late hour, after working way-too-many hours, and consuming who-knows-how-much espresso, I was somewhere between Hyper-aware and Neurotic.

I walked over to Jon’s desk and quickly yanked the top drawer open. I stared for a moment and slowly closed the drawer. Motionless, I stood there and tried to absorb all I had just seen. I needed to make sense of it. I was - frightened. Gathering my courage, I opened another drawer. I found that that drawer, too, was better closed. I went back to my desk and turned off my music. I needed a moment.

I had completely forgotten one thing about Jon; he was really into origami. The inside of his desk was an origami creature world. There were probably twenty different origami animals, all different colors, folding experiments that went wrong, and some that looked perfect, all of them staring at me. It gave me chills. The second drawer had even more rabbits, frogs, lions, zebras and butterflies. They seemed to be wondering what I wanted and why I was bothering them. I’m pretty sure I heard the rabbit whisper, “When she sticks her hand in, bring her down!”

I decided to call it a night and drove home in silence.

A few weeks later another co-worker, Nate, needed something and I saw him walking toward Jon’s desk. In a panic I yelled, “DON’T GO IN THERE!! He has NO supplies, only origami animals and a few weeks ago when I was here late I think they wanted to eat me!” Now, since it was around noon, and we had not tapped the espresso machine, this sounded really dumb, but once the words started, I could not stop. Plus, I really like Nate and did not want him to get eaten by origami lions.

Nate gave me a half grin and ran over to Jon’s desk (apparently, I was not convincing enough). I heard him quickly open the drawer. I said, “At your own risk.” There was silence for a moment and then I heard the drawer slowly close. Nate walked back to his desk and sat down. He was pale. I nodded a nod of understanding to myself.

I gave Nate the few moments he needed find composure and whispered, just loud enough not to startle him, “It’s always the nice guys.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Sweet Things

It had been raining and pretty cold for weeks. However, the sun decided to come out one Wednesday afternoon, which just happened to be a minimum day at school. The girls and I were preparing a picnic for the park and I noticed a little bird just outside the sliding door. It was staring at us in the kitchen. Walking over to the glass the bird hopped closer, like he was trying to get a closer look - at me.

I alerted Sable to the bird and she went right up next to the glass. The little bird hopped closer, to get a better look - at her. Then it hopped away. We both noticed that it was hopping, not flying. I said, “That’s not very bird-like, hopping around, not flying.” Sable asked, “Do you think something is wrong with it?” I didn’t answer and together we observed.

The sweet little bird hopped over to the fence, into a bush and hopped its way up the fence. Then, I really did think something was wrong, because it was exerting a lot of effort NOT to fly. Then I noticed something else.

A squirrel was resting peacefully in a sun spot on the fence. It was hard to see at first, but he was sitting there, eyes closed, arms tucked under his chin, taking a nap and basking in the first sun of our long wet winter. Sable said, “Get your camera Mom!” So, I did:



I had to take another one because he opened his eyes and it proved that he was alive:


As for the bird. He was fine! I think he was just like, “Hey, check THIS out!” His plan worked. Thanks sweet little bird!
____________________________
Chiara, Did you expect me to say the bird died? ;) I can do sweet and cute. But don't expect rainbows, that's asking WAY too much.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Death and Taxes

“How is she doing this morning? Are her O2 levels up?” asked Mari (named changed) on the phone with the hospital inquiring about her very ill mother. “Oh, that’s not really what she is concerned about. She just wants to go home so she can have a cigarette. Her taxes are with our accountant, and being taken care of.” Mari’s mother almost died the other night. Her fourth heart attack hit and it was assumed she would not live through the night. Instead she has managed to hang on to her life. However, the doctors made the family aware that her heart and lungs are so damaged that she will not live much longer.

Mari’s mom wants to leave the hospital. She keeps telling the nursing staff that she has to get her taxes together but Mari says that is a lie. She really wants to smoke and she can not do that in ICU. I asked Mari if her mom knew that she was not going to live much longer. She said, “Oh, yeah, she’s fully aware.”

She is fully aware that her time is short and she will leave behind two grown daughters, a husband, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the one thing that she wants more than anything else, the one thing that she would try to scheme her way out of the hospital for, is a cigarette. This old woman is about to find out the truth about her eternity, and she yearns for a cigarette!

Does this make your heart sad? I feel empty for her. In fact, it leaves me with so many different avenues of thought that I can’t possibly blog about all of them. Instead, I’ll list some of the thoughts that cross my mind:

  • What will I long for?
  • If I get a few extra days, will I scheme about something worldly
  • If my taxes weren’t in order (if it were one day before April 15th, then they wouldn’t be) would I care?
  • The evil one is so clever. He’s distracted her from thinking about her eternity and from enjoying her last few days in the world.
  • Jesus knew he was going to die soon – to a horrible death. What did he do? He broke the bread, gave some wisdom, prayed – for us too, and let them do what they wanted to him (very shortened version).
  • Addictions!
  • Is Mari thinking about her mom’s eternity? Does she care about ETERNITY?

Eternity. Jesus promises us eternity to those that believe. Not only do we have the promise of eternity, but he promises us joy on earth (John 10:10 - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full). He can break us free from addictions and ourselves. Why wait until the only thing we want more than anything else in our few final days is something like a [lame] cigarette!

In His final moments He prayed for you:

John 20-26
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

Monday, March 15, 2010

He wanted to use my head for a hat!

It was the best weather we’ve had all year, this morning. Just cool enough for a light jacket and sun, sun, sun. I had a normal list of things to accomplish: Whole Foods shopping, allergy shot, dollar tree. However, when I got to Whole Foods, I just could not bring myself to cross the threshold. It was too nice of a day and the Iron Horse Trail was calling my name. Instead of shopping, I took a detour and went for a walk.


The trail was busy for a Monday morning but I was not surprised considering the perfect weather. On the trail it’s important to me to greet other trail enthusiasts; it’s polite. Walking along, plugged in to the perfect mix of songs on my ipod, I passed others with a “Hello.” “Good Morning.” and smiles. A mile or so into the trail, I noticed a man riding a bike that I thought I greeted for a second time. Immediately, I thought, “Uh oh, what?” and took a moment to scale the walls of my memory trying to recall the exact moment, when and if, I had seen him already. I concluded that it was the same person; he passed me twice. This is a really long trail, so to see the same person – twice – would, most likely, be very intentional. He would have to cut over on streets and circle back around. I was certain he only came from one direction.


In high school I had two friends murdered by two different serial killers. No, I’m not kidding. They were good friends of mine, girls whose houses I had spent the night and whose brothers we played tag football. When you realize at a young age that something horribly indescribable can, actually and really, happen to someone you care about, twice, you just know your time will come. I even joked with my friend in college that I should tattoo my social security number on my butt so that there was no question whose [rotting] body had been found (this might not seem funny, but we made it funny talking about how the numbers would stretch over the years – satire).


So, the third time my biker friend passed, I went into complete freak-out mode. While a normal person might have been flattered at the idea of a stranger’s interest, I was sure he wanted to wear my head as a hat. While a normal person would have wondered how many times he would need to ride passed me before he got up enough nerve to make a formal greeting, I was sure he wanted to use my torso as lamp shade. My rabid thoughts equaled my physical reaction. First, I shot a practice shot of my pink breast-cancer-awareness mace (that I retrieved from my pocket after his second pass), to make sure it worked. It worked. Poor tree. Then, I full out RAN the mile back to Whole Foods saying to myself the whole way, “Please let me run faster than he bikes. Please let there be a lot of people on the trail. Please let me be strong enough to gouge out his eyes if I must.”


I was not dressed in running clothes. Remember this was an impromptu ‘it’s such a nice day for a walk’ walk. Rather, I had on jeans, sketchers a nice top and jacket that no one would ever wear to go running. I could feel the sketchers not holding up after a few steps, and really understood why denim is not considered sports attire. However, my life was on the line!! I ignored my attire, and sprinted all the way back to Whole Foods, through the deli, the meat section and straight into the bathroom. There, I took a moment, found my breath, washed my face, and thanked God. Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I started laughing hysterically.


Was it self-preservation, or complete reconciled paranoia? I know that as I hid in the Whole Foods bathroom I felt like a complete idiot. He probably just liked to circle the trail in shorter spurts. He probably did it every day, 40 times, circle after circle. He probably only made eye contact because I was so “polite” the first two times. I hope that’s the truth and I’m just a paranoid idiot. No matter what, I am glad not to have ended up as his hat or lamp shade and that his friends aren’t having Jodi tacos for dinner!

Monday, March 1, 2010

You’re beautiful (if you’re in to that sort of thing).

This morning, while standing in the kitchen juicing carrots, Craig says, “Well, you never know who you’ll end up with; I mean, you aren’t my type.” Even though this is not news to me, as I have had the pleasure of hearing it before, it always makes me feel - inadequate. The outer shell of my being is not what my husband would consider “his type.” His type, which I know this from passed conversations, is someone who is tall, thin-necked, dark hair, dark eyes, and olive-toned skin. I am none-of-the-above. In fact, I am just the (freakin) opposite.

What occurred to me - for the first time – is that, what would be considered ‘my look’ (not so tall, lighter hair, very fair skin, and blue eyes) is getting wasted!! What a complete WASTE of a look!! Does that mean when he tells me “You’re beautiful”, which he often does, he is really saying, “You’re beautiful for a short, blue eyed, fair skinned woman?” Is he really saying, “You’re beautiful because you make me laugh and we’re so compatible in a lot of OTHER ways?” Or does he mean to say, “You’re beautiful, if you’re in to that sort of thing (shutter)?”

I know that I’m not ‘all that’, so don’t get me wrong when I say this but, upon reflection, I think I should have married a Mexican! Mexican men, young and old have always stopped in their tracks when they see me. If I weren’t a woman of noble character I could get some of them to do all of my Whole Foods shopping. I never have to wonder where things are in the produce department because, often, at least three (Mexican) produce men go out of their way to ask me if I need any help. I am not making this up. The Caucasian produce guys? I’m completely invisible. It’s like I don’t exist. I practically have to tackle them to help me find the fennel.

Also, what is my most favorite food, in the whole word? Mexican! I *heart* Mexican food!! I could eat it every single day, for every meal. It’s not like I wouldn’t want to have sushi every now and again, but I think Mexican food is the best. I make great Mexican food too, but it just gets wasted on Craig because he hates Mexican food. I get to eat it on my birthday without complaints, any other time of the year I get moans-and-groans and complaints of heart-burn all night.

Mexican blankets! Those are…alright, they're just okay, but I bet I could learn to love them. They are so colorful!!!

Really, why am I JUST figuring this out? It’s too late for me. I can’t marry a Mexican NOW! It says that wisdom comes with age. HOW TRUE!!! WISDOM OF MY AGE, you CURSE ME!!!

For all you singles out there, here’s some wisdom from a soon-to-be-old lady… take notice of whom wants to help you find the apples… that’s all I’m saying.

(Craig, I know you love me for the best parts of me which come from the inside. I’ll remind you of that as I get older and even more ghastly. I wouldn't trade you for any Mexican! XO)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Forbidden Fruit

It was a beautiful day, like every day of her perfect life. She had never known anything other than extreme harmony, peace, and perfection. Most of her days were spent walking hand-in-hand in the garden with her husband; together, they walked with the Lord.

One day would be different than the others. In a moment of rest, from the shadows, she heard a voice come at her in a raspy whisper, “Did God really say, "You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” Excited for conversation, she told the creature precisely what she knew and being completely pure of heart, she was unable to lie. One tree, the one in the center of the garden, was not to be eaten from; it was not even to be touched or else they would surely die.

The creature, a serpent, with its glowering eyes and cleaver ways knew the right words to steer her heart toward yearning; he knew the words to make her desire things she did not know she was missing. He said to her, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

The woman was enthralled with the idea of such knowledge. To become like God would be – incredible. To be more like the one whom created her, to fully know the God whom she loved even more than her husband? This was something that needed to be considered! She walked closer to the tree, but was careful not to touch it. She made no harsh decisions.

Weeks passed and she thought about the tree a lot. It seemed like wherever she was in the garden she could feel its presence. Occasionally, it was closer than she realized and she could smell its sweet fruit looming through the air. As the wind swept through her world the tree in the center whistled a beautiful harmony that seemed to be drawing her heart. In her dreams she heard the word of the serpent repeat and she could almost taste the sweetness of the fruit in her mouth.

On another perfect day she was walking with her husband. The Lord came up beside them, matching their pace. Knowing her heart, the Lord asked why her thoughts were so consuming of the tree in the center of the garden. She told him the burden she was carrying, the one the serpent had placed on her. The Lord, in all his greatness, felt her heaviness. With a serious and tortured stare he placed her hand in his and walked her to where, together, they could see the tree in the center of the garden. There he opened her mind into a glimpse of what the future would hold if she made the wrong choice. She could see the tree wither before her, her husband became ashamed of himself and she felt guilt and shame rise inside of her. The beautiful garden became clouded and cursed with weeds, thickets and thorns. Sadness overwhelmed her and she begged the Lord to stop such knowledge. Understanding the truth, she was fulfilled.

FICTION: Based on Genesis 3

___________________


I wish this were the true story! I often wonder why Eve ate the fruit. Why didn’t she think it over first, give it some time, ask God to reveal the truth, talk to Adam about it? She walked with God in the perfect garden and she still ate from the fruit!

In my heart, I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she, simply, did not know any better. She did not understand deception. She never had to wait or ponder any decision. It was all new to her.

So what is my excuse? What is your excuse? We know deception. We’ve seen numerous lives destroyed by the lies. However, we still choose to take a big bite of the things that are bad for us, things that will make our lives harder and create weeds which strangle us and those we love.

It's doubt! Doubt is the tool used to make us wonder if we’re doing the right thing. We doubt the truth, we doubt our happiness, and we even doubt our strength. I’ve heard people say so many times, “I’m just not that strong”. How will you ever become strong if you keep convincing yourself and others of your weakness? I implore you to never doubt your strength. We are all made to endure and persevere. Believe it.

Temptation comes at us in the most enticing packages, certainly more enticing than eating an apple that will give us wisdom! It’s in the pretty people, wealth and fame; the idea of the picture perfect life or the fast track to a happier, easier life. Ask Tiger Woods how great his picture perfect life and fast track to fame has been for him.

I choose not to be fooled by the picture; it appears perfect, but the devil has Photoshop and he uses it with astute precision.

The truth is in you. It’s in God’s word. Find it.

I’ll do the same.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Day - Don't get me started.

Here are some facts I found on the internet that I thought were interesting:

15% of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine's Day.

73% of people who buy flowers for Valentine's Day are men, while only 27 percent are women.

About 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year. That's the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas.

About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets


Aren’t all females supposed to love this holiday? Well, count me out! I can’t explain it, but I think, I just,

just,

think it,

well,

it’s,

DUMB.

It’s dumb!! There, I said it! What a load off!! I HATE VALENTINES DAY!!

Do we really need the stress of a holiday that holds so many expectations? 15% of American women send themselves flowers on Valentines Day. A lot of people would look at that as pathetic, but really it’s sad. It’s sad that they feel pressured to make it seem like they are in a relationship, or that their current relationship deems a dozen red roses that cost 60% more on this, one, day of the year.

There are so many problems with this holiday; I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with single people. It must be really fabulous to wake up on Valentines Day knowing that all of your married and committed friends all have plans, and you, well don’t. You tell yourself, “It’s cool, I got my dog a valentines bone (3% of pet owners…) and he’s the best anyone could have. Hey, buddy, wanna go to the park?” Then you get a text from your mom, “Happy Valentines Day.” Great. It’s not that you don’t appreciate the message, but it just, sucks. FACT: Valentines Day sucks if you’re single!! It’s a slap in the face that you have not met THAT person. It’s repetitive slaps in the face, A-L-L D-A-Y L-O-N-G.

Now, let’s move into the dating scene. If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, then you have expectations. Guys must make dinner plans, have flowers, chocolate, whatever. If you don’t play your cards right, you could end up single. If you just started dating someone, you’re not even sure WHAT you’re supposed to do. Are there expectations? What’s expected? Do you really like this person? Are they ‘Valentines Day dinner’ worthy? It’s so much stress!

Married couples? Well, they feel like they SHOULD do something for Valentines Day because it’s the holiday for lovers, and they have a lover. Expectations are there, and it’s up to the man to fulfill them. Which leads me to another problem, why is it up to the man? Why do they have to come up with the idea to order an Oregon Bear/pajama set? Which, by-the-way, is means for divorce in my house (I’m not 6; I don’t want a teddy bear, but that’s just me.) This is a holiday to let the ones you love know you love them, but women just expect things to happen for them. Meanwhile, reserving the right to pout if it does not meet their unsaid expectations.

Teenagers? So many schools do the carnation fundraisers, ‘Send a carnation to your Valentine for fifty cents.’ If you don’t get a carnation, you look like a loser. If you get one from someone you don’t like, you feel like a loser. If your boyfriend forgets, he’s a loser. It’s really just not a good situation. I still hate carnations!

There is one place that I feel Valentines Day is fun and cute: elementary and preschool. The little ones love everyone, and everyone gets a valentine and it’s sweet, appropriate, and kind. They don’t have expectations; they know they get a party and candy. They love the stickers and fake tattoos that come in the valentines. It’s great. Great!

To my Valentine,

I love you, but this is a lame holiday and I release you from all Valentines Day expectations. However, I do love tulips in the spring!!

:)







Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bonafide Redneck

I was driving through Concord yesterday and saw this:





Everytime he stepped on the breaks...you can see he went through the trouble of hooking it up to the break lights.

I know!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

From My Perspective

Until you know someone who spends most of their life in the dark, you can’t understand the depths of their pain. I have a sister that committed suicide. Traci was only 22 when she ended her life. It was her third and final attempt. I was 20 at the time, soon to be 21.

We grew up in the same home; we shared many of the same experiences. Being so close in age, we often shared the same friends. However, there was one major difference between us – our perspective. Where she could only see darkness I always found the light.

Our mother left us when I was three and she was 4 (or 5 depending on the month). Until the day she died Traci had a hard time with her abandonment. She asked me, our mother, our father, our sister over and over again, why our mother abandoned us. No one could ever really make her understand; she let it leave a scar on her life. I, on the other hand, saw blessing in the fact that we were being raised by our father. Our father was a strong, loving man, which cared for us deeply and gave us what we needed physically and emotionally. He even gave us a new step-mother (he remarried when I was 4) who loved us like her very own.

Our mother was fragile emotionally, to put it nicely. Even though I was so small when we separated from her, I can – with all honesty – remember not feeling completely safe around her. I remember always wondering how long it would be before daddy came back. The times that Traci asked me about why our mother left, I always said to her. “How do you think we would have ended up if we lived with her?” Unfortunately, I did not understand that Traci was such a mess on the inside that she could not imagine being any worse off. I do know that she hated that answer and would storm out of the room whenever I gave it to her.

Traci did go live with our mother for one summer when she was 17. She came back seeing the light about living with our father and the good and loving example that our step-mother and he had provided. However, even with the truth of such knowledge, she would not allow herself to heal or forget the scar that she held from her childhood. Honestly, it was almost like she was afraid to heal from it because she needed it as an excuse for being filled with so much dissension.

I could go on and on with examples of things that negatively affected her for which I saw the best. It was always something that she hated about me. Remember she was messed up, and my older sister, so she made fun of me. A lot. My annoyingly optimistic attitude was so disturbing to her that she would go out of her way to make me cry. At the time, I never understood how she could be so cruel, but as an adult, I get it now. I was happy but she was full of pain and turmoil which she could not explain in words. Instead she used anger to promote the hurt inside.

Here is the real question: Was I born with an optimistic attitude, and she a negative one? I can’t speak for her. I can say that she ended her life too soon to figure out how to heal, how to change her perspective, how to let God do what He does best. For myself, having a positive attitude and changing my perspective is part gift and part a honed skill.

I have not gone through life only wearing rose colored glasses. Instead, I have seen the greatness everywhere I can. Let’s use death as an example. I’ve been plagued with having many people in my life die since I was a teenager – many close friends, boyfriends, a sister, and two of my parents (my stepmother is still alive and very much a mother to me). Each death is always hard, but the coming together of family and friends during times of grieving is amazing and beautiful. There is a lot to be said about the closeness of feeling so much sadness, together. Also, the day that you realize you have come out of sadness is so much sweeter than any other day.

Personally, I appreciate the full range of emotion that God and life has given us. When I had my first daughter, Sable, a friend of mine whom was going to have a baby a few weeks later asked me about the delivery process. I told her, “It’s the most incredible experience you can imagine. The most pain but complete exhilaration and love at the same time. It’s the widest range of emotion I have ever felt. It’s AWESOME!” I guess my excitement made it seem like it was fun because she called me a few weeks later, just after delivery from the hospital, really mad at me. She said, “It was HORRIBLE! The pain was unbearable.” I said to her, “Well, yea, it hurts, but wasn’t it awesome?” She did not share my sentiments. She and I had experienced the same thing, but had two completely different perspectives.

I’m not happy all the time. When it’s time to cry, I cry. When it’s time to laugh, then I really laugh. I have a sinful nature, I get mad and sarcastic; I do the best I can. We are promised complete happiness in the afterlife. This life comes with rough times, but we can find peace in all situations, and this is something for which I strongly believe.

I JUST found these two photos of my sisters and I when we were LITTLE (Rene' - 6, Traci - 4, Jodi - 3, I am so glad my frog isn't upside down!!)


We were with our grandpa here - our birth mother's dad:
________________________________________________________

This organization began by trying to save one life. Today, they do whatever they can to educate, prevent and heal those afflicted with or by suicide. It is a cause I believe in firmly. My sister would, most likely be alive today if the hotline she called took her seriously.

They make money selling shirts (and donations). To my delight, I've seen people at my church with these shirts! If you are able, please support the cause.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Green Police

Superbowl favorite:




1. It's just funny.
2. It could happen in CA
3. I was at a light in Walnut Creek the other day surrounded by 6 Audi's... they really are not that common, it was odd.
4. Perfect song choice
5. It's just funny.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Letting the Rain

I woke up one Sunday morning with a lot of extra energy. It was still dark but I could not sleep any longer. A few days earlier I noticed having a lot of extra energy or angst and it was starting to bother me. After a few moments of reflection, I realized that what I was feeling was not extra energy but rather, it was anxiety. Anxiety and I are strangers; his rare visits in my life did not leave me with memory of his voice. The reality of his presence was something I really wanted to snuff out and the sooner the better.

I needed some time with my father to root out the cause of this nagging voice pulling me down. I knew what I needed to do. I jumped out of bed, threw on some running clothes, running shoes, grabbed my ipod, and kissed my husband on check and whispered that I was going for a run. The early light was lightening the sky but I did not pay attention to the weather.


The second I stepped outside I could feel the cold; it was the kind of cold that has made me rethink my running time in the past. On this day the urge to figure out what was stinging my insides was stronger than just about anything. I plugged in my ipod, turned it up and made a decision to run through the cold.


A few minutes on the pavement and the weather changed; sprinkles of rain were falling from the clouds above. Rain was something I had not considered, which was not very smart because it had been raining for nearly a week. I had considered turning around but a clear voice inside me said, “Go!” Faithfully, I stayed the course.


The faster I ran the harder the rain fell and the more saturated in prayer I became. Running in the driving rain I was able to pinpoint the cause of my anxiety. It was not one thing that was causing angst to rip through me, but three different things. All three of these issues were not serious; simply, they were things that I had never had to face myself. One was a work issue, one was a friendship issue, and the other was a church issue. Three very important parts of my life had issues that were in need of my attention and resolution.


So, I prayed and ran to the beat of the music coursing through my earphones. The harder the rain hit my face, the better I felt. I was getting soaked and it felt amazing. Amazing was also my ability to think hard about each situation and find clarity for their solutions. However, I discovered a little more anxiety while unclear of how to handle the resolutions. I’ve never been one for confrontation, and one situation made me run a little faster and little harder.


As I turned the corner nearing my last lap around my street, I saw something beautiful. A large falcon was sitting on a light pole with his wings stretched wide. The rain was coming down on him and he loved every drop. Twisting his head in delight and shaking his feathers, he was bathing in the rain. Allowing the large drops to clean deep into his feathers and shaking off the excess every few seconds. He was so large and majestic, yet he was literally playing in the rain. Watching him made my step light again.


As I passed him by, I realized that he and I were doing the same thing, allowing the rain to cleanse our ruffled feathers. How often do we let the rain in our life bring us to a lighter place? Do we only see the rain for the nuisance that it was can be, or for the cleansing ability it has in each of us? Are we always using an umbrella to dodge the rain, or taking the time to examine and play in it? Do we just sit with anxiety or allow ourselves to be brought through?


A couple days later, I ran in the rain again. This time I went running because it was raining. I thank God for the rain and the growth it brings.

"Lord, I am listening now and I want to hear your voice. Fall on me now like the rain. Speak to my heart once again." Ryan Morgan (band)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Truth and Lies about Relationships

In Reference to article: Why Men Love "Taken" Women by Jake

This article helps to define how relationships can be affected by “The Sinful Nature”. Even with all the truth professed in this article it is still crawling with untruths. Really, they are more than untruths; they are lies. However, this is an article of confession, repentance and resolution, so I want to give the writer the respect he deserves and the benefit of the doubt by not calling him a flat out liar.

It has been my experience that one rarely falls, by chance, into a situation where they wind up kissing someone else’s girlfriend on the beach. In the article, Jake says that he just wanted to get the know Carrie because she was not like other New York women he knew. She was different. So he talked to her, a lot. The real truth was that his attraction to Carrie made him want to get to know her more. He knew exactly where he was willing to take it, if she was willing. He ended up exactly where he hoped he would, making out with her on the beach.

I think it’s important in any situation not to fool ourselves into pretending that we are actually better people than we are. In all honesty, we can all end up on the beach making out with someone we shouldn’t, later to feel a little disgusted with ourselves. Sexual attraction, in itself, is one of the strongest pulls for which we can be faced. It has the ability to make each of us justify our actions and make bad behaviors seem right, normal, and even feel good. I believe that this part of the sinful desire is the hardest to fight. It’s stronger than our will, moral code and ethical mind.

I have a married friend that asked me what I thought about her having a male friend; a divorced single father of two. I asked her if she was attracted to him and the girlish smirk on her face blurted out the truth. I told her to end it immediately that she was cultivating a situation that would only end in hurt and pain. Since she was a Christian I used the scripture, “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matt 18:9) This is the exact kind of situation which Jesus gave us those words to live by. He does not want us to actually gauge out our eyes, but remove the situation from our mind as quickly and harshly as gauging out our eyes. Sadly, my friends’ sinful nature was stronger than her will and she could not bare to end the relationship which developed into the exact thing she was cultivating, an affair. Today, she is getting a divorce (inevitable divorce anyway, but the affair greatly compounded her problems) and is no longer in a relationship with the man for which she was certain she was madly and deeply in love.

So, how do we fight our sinful nature from the desires of sexual sin? My best advice is to only cultivate relationships with people of the opposite sex for which you are not attracted; rather, you only have brotherly (sisterly) love for them. Don’t cultivate any relationship that could put you in danger. If someone is taking up ‘rent’ in your head and they shouldn’t, make a choice to stop. You have that much control! You do!

Second, don’t allow yourself to believe that this could never happen to you. I’ve seen it happen to the most ethical of people: pastors, priests, and those in loving, healthy marriages. You are not different! Run from the situation. Don’t let your sinful nature control you; stop yourself as soon as there is interest. Have enough respect for yourself to not allow your life to be overturned with the guilt and shame that an affair will bring.

Third, if you’re currently in a bad relationship, don’t use someone else as means-to-an-ends. The line I liked best in the article is when Jake states, “to all the Carries out there, I beseech you: Ditch your lame boyfriends already, will you?” If you’re in a committed relationship that does not bring you satisfaction, discover a way to find satisfaction (if your married, exhaust all avenues), or leave it – BEFORE someone else come along; before you are tempted beyond your will.

Finally, be the person you want to be, not the one controlled by what the world tells you is okay and normal. It is my experience that most of the world is depressed, riddled with guilt, and seeking instant gratification for the pursuit of happiness. We all have an innate sense of right and wrong. Look inside, do what’s right; seek happiness without remorse.

Jake, I commend you for taking control of your actions and turning a new leaf. I hope it elevates you into finding a loving relationship that is fulfilling and life long.