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.