Sunday, March 29, 2009

Other things I've learned along the way...

How about some pretty pink today. Can't wait to see this in my yard again!

I've loved reading all your comments and emails about your thoughts on God/religion/spirituality. It makes me wish we could all be together in a cozy room with a fireplace and lots of comfy chairs to sit around and discuss things. Wouldn't that just be so much fun?

I've finished The Shack now and I hated to see it come to an end. I handed it to Patrick after I finished and asked if he'd like to read it. I told him that this is probably the most profound book I'd ever read (I've read a looooooot of books!). One of the reviews on the book said that it would forever change the way you think about God. For me, this is very true. On second thought, maybe that's not true. I think a truer statement would be that it confirmed for me the way I think about God.

After reading it, I did a google search and was not surprised to find some very hostile reviews by Christians. While I already knew there was some controversy surrounding The Shack, I was, nevertheless, saddened to read many of them. I truly believe that there will be many many people who will read The Shack who've always felt outside of God's love and Grace. And I believe that while reading this book they will discover that God does indeed love them. How in the world can that be seen as evil?

Many in the Church are determined to paint God as a tyrant, making demands that make it seemingly impossible to perform. They are so caught up in doctrine that they lose the very essence of God's message which was all about love. It's not about doctrine, it's about a relationship with God. It's about loving one another. It's truly a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. They have no idea of the damage they do to people who are hungry for a relationship with God. It saddens me more than I can begin to put into words. It saddens me because they did that to me for a very long time.

I've said before that everyone has their own path and their own journey. It's not for me or anyone else to tell someone that their path is wrong. I believe that God will meet us on whichever path we choose. My path feels right for me and I've found God waiting for me at every twist and turn since I began my search in earnest. I've found Him to be bigger and more loving than my churchgoing taught me. I came to him out of love and not duty and that has made all the difference.

There are many, and some of them in my own family, who will shake their heads and despair for my lost soul because of my beliefs. That's okay. I know what I know about my relationship with God. It is well with my soul.

I was raised Protestant and married a Catholic. It wasn't until after I was married that I found out that the Catholic Bible has books in it that are not in my Protestant Bible. Hmmm, I wondered, why is that? I was young and busy and didn't really give it much thought until several years ago when I realized that my relationship with God felt very small and insignificant. I was hungry but I didn't know exactly what I was hungry for. Then one day I realized that I was hungry for a true and personal relationship with God. In my search to find him I had to determine why I felt I'd lost that. I realized that I didn't trust Him and didn't feel his love for me because of all the seemingly inconsistent pictures the Bible painted of Him. In other words, I was commanded to love him out of fear for my soul. The threat of hell was ever present in my mind. I wanted to love Him because He was my Father and Creator, but when I got real honest with myself I couldn't determine if I was motivated from fear or love. But the Church or more truthfully, the people in the Church while they talked about Grace at times, surely weren't modeling it. So, if these two bibles don't have the same books, why is that? It's because Man decided what books "we" needed to base our lives on. See, it always muddies the water when "Man" tries to set the rules. I had always been taught that the Bible was the infallible word of God. Oh really? Then which one is the infallible version? The Catholic one or the Protestant one? This revelation set me on a search of just how we got the Bible in the first place and wouldn't ya know it, man was picking and choosing alllll along the way. I'm not going to say that I don't believe anything in the Bible because that would not be true. I will admit though that I have major questions about some of the teachings and there is no one on earth that can possibly answer those questions. Which means that I have to rely on God alone to lead me where he wants me to go. My brother (the preacher) thinks that is heretical. He says I have let "my ears be tickled" by untruths. All I can say is that I love God more than I ever did when it felt like a duty to be performed. I feel closer to God than I ever have in my life and I know that even if I'm wrong, his love and grace are big enough to cover me. THIS is a relationship, not an attempt to keep my self out of hell. The true hell for me was feeling outside of this relationship.

Being a mother has taught me what Grace is. My children loving me out of fear would not be love. I want my children to love me because they love me! They can't love me if they fear me. And the Grace part comes in when I realize that I love them whether they love me or not. Grace is love unconditional. Grace is a gift, unearned. Grace covers all. God's Grace loves me and redeems me even when I'm undeserving. THAT is the message of The Shack and many "men of God" have a problem with that. It boggles my mind.

Many certainly don't agree with me. That's okay. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone and would not even begin to suggest that your beliefs or religion is wrong. God is a loving Father and He is so much bigger than all our differences.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How God taught me what Grace means

It wasn't until I became a mother that I truly knew what unconditional love really meant. The simple fact is that my love for my children is not something that can be measured. It is a love that knows no bounds and there is absolutely nothing that they could do that would make me not love them. Have I liked everything they've done or said in their lives? No! Are they perfect? No. But by virtue of being mine ( I don't mean this in a possessive way) it would be impossible for me to not love them and want the absolute best for them.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Emily felt lost to us for several years when she was with her ex husband. That estrangement was the darkest period of my life. Looking back now, I see that God used that time to teach me a very valuable lesson about love, forgiveness, trust, the power of God's love for us, and maybe most importantly, what Grace really means. During that four year period I was all over the place emotionally. I started out being broken hearted and that lasted for a long time. I then moved into anger and was so angry at her husband that it literally felt at times that it would eat me alive. I then went through a period of feeling numb and became very depressed. I felt as invisible to God as a person can feel. There was no comfort to be found anywhere. I couldn't imagine living the rest of my life with this gaping hole in my heart that only Emily could fill. With the way things were between us and with the power that her husband had over her I didn't see how there could ever be a solution. The word "forgiveness" kept showing up in my reading. I knew I should forgive and in fact had to forgive this man who had, in my mind, stolen my daughter from me. This man was abused as a child, he comes from a family riddled with mental illness and knowing this allowed me to be sympathetic towards him to a degree. So I began to try to forgive him for the vile things he had said to us and for causing such heartache in our family. I stumbled and fell A LOT in my efforts here. I just kept praying that God would give me His heart to forgive because my human one felt very inadequate for the job. It wasn't something that happened overnight but over time I could feel the anger lifting from me. One day I just realized that I had forgiven him and that dark energy in my heart towards him was just gone. He became someone that I felt so very sorry for and I can even say that there were moments when I was able to feel some degree of love for him. It wasn't a warm and fuzzy kind of love, but it was a love that I don't think I would have been capable of without my knowledge of how a mother loves. The mother in me was able to recognize the terribly wounded child that was inside of him. If ever there had been a little boy who needed a parents healing love, it was him. So I started with that little glimmer of love and forgiveness and just rested with it. I decided that I could love them from where I was and my love for them and most especially for Emily wasn't contingent upon having that love and acceptance returned. She was my daughter and there was nothing she could do that would put her outside of my love for her. While I still missed the closeness of a day to day relationship with her, that hole in my heart was filled up with the love that "I" felt for her. I just had a knowing in my heart that someday she would be back in our lives and however long that took was just going to be however long that took.

It was at about that time that I realized that is how God must love us!!! I had been angry at God for quite a while because I felt like there were so many rules to follow and so many hoops to jump through to be worthy of God's love and it just felt like an impossible feat. How could anyone live up to the expectations of God?

If I, as a woefully flawed human mother, could love my child so much that even her refusal of that love couldn't diminish it even the tiniest bit, then surely God in His perfectness must love us the same way! I finally understood what Grace was all about. We don't save ourselves. God's Grace is the gift of a loving parent

Thankfully, Emily left her husband and so much healing has happened in our family in the past year. We now have the best relationship we've ever had and I thank God for that every single day. But I know that even if that had not happened I would still love her the same. The child may go away and turn their back on the love that is offered, but the parent loves them anyway. There was no way that she could escape the love I have for her. She didn't have to accept it. It was there anyway. I finally truly understood the story of the Prodigal Son. But more importantly, I finally truly understood the love of God and what Grace was all about.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Shack and Baby Update

I've taken a break from TWILIGHT and am reading THE SHACK, which I've wanted to read for quite a while now. I highly recommend it. I believe that we have been taught to put God in a box and when we or at least when I tried to access Him from that place, He sometimes seemed very distant to me. For the past couple of years I've been doing a lot of spiritual work and the main thing that set me upon that journey was my own thinking that God was bigger and more available than what years of churchgoing had taught me. I've done a lot of reading in the past couple of years about God and spirituality. I've wanted very badly to discuss some of what I've come to believe here in my journal. I've not done that and I don't know why. I've decided though, that I'm going to do it off and on here. I do not mean to offend anyone. I believe that one's relationship to God is a very personal one and no one has the right to tell anyone that their way to God is the wrong way. I don't like the word religion. I was raised in a Christian home and was in church at least three times a week. My brother is a minister. We often disagree on theology. That's okay. Like I said there are many paths. I can only speak of my own. I feel closer to God now than I ever have in my life. I don't feel like a religious person. I do, however, feel like a very spiritual person. God is bigger than we give Him credit for. He loves me and I believe He has orchestrated the journey I've been on every step of the way. I trust that. I will be working on explaining how I've come to this place in my journey. It's hard to explain sometime and I so don't want to hinder anyone else on their path. Just as each of our children are different and have their own special needs, talents, and perceptions, all of us as God's children are different. He allows us our differences and I believe He delights in those differences. I didn't always feel that way. I was taught a more narrow view.

I would love to hear all of your opinions and views regarding God and the spiritual path. I'm not so interested in what religion you consider yourself, I want to hear how you view God and yourself in relation to Him.

The one thing that I've known about myself since I was very small is that I was born to be a mother. I didn't realize, however, that being a mother would give me the spiritual insight that it has given me. My role as mother has opened my eyes to how dearly God must love us. That, has made all the difference in my life. I am working on an entry to explain that further. If this topic doesn't interest you that's fine. Just skip those entries. I need to put into words for myself my journey thus far. I welcome hearing about yours as well.

(Mandevilla plant from my yard last year) I can't wait to see if it survived the winter in the basement. Stay tuned!

I went with Sarah and Bennie yesterday for her 20 week ultrasound. Oh my gosh! Brooks was sucking his thumb and putting his fingers in his ears! All looks perfect and he's growing exactly the way he's supposed to. Seeing him sucking his thumb and yawning makes him so much more real! There really is a baby in there and he's going to be coming into our family!!! I fall more in love with him everyday and can't wait to nuzzle that little sweet neck. Can you believe that she's half way through her pregnancy already? Twenty more weeks and he's here! I. Can't. Wait!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Food for the Gray Matter

I have to work today so not much time to do a real entry so here is my meager offering:

I am a quote junkie. I usually pick one or two and roll them over and over in my mind all week. This is the one that I've been pondering all week and thought I'd share it. It's funny how sometimes one little sentence can strip away all the nonsense and just say what we need to hear. I think this is just such a thing. Don't let the best of you die inside.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

Norman Cousins

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This and That

It's another work night tonight and I've been up since 8:30 am thanks to the crew working on the street right in front of my house. Thanks guys! Sarah Kate came over at 1:00 yesterday afternoon and woke me up to go with her to buy maternity clothes. So after being up for 24 hours straight by the time I got in bed after work yesterday morning, I got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep yesterday. I finally fell asleep about 1:00 this morning and was hoping to sleep until at least noon today before going back in to work this afternoon. Guess that's a moot point now since it's after 10:30 am now. Oh well, how often does a woman get to go with her daughter to shop for maternity clothes. I'll stop whining now.

Austin's class is doing a "Living Wax Museum" of famous Kentucky people. Of course all the fun ones like Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone were taken. Guess who he picked? Michael Waltrip. I do know that Michael Waltrip is a famous race care driver, but I had no idea he was from Kentucky. They have to give an oral history of their character and dress like them. Children from other classes will come into their "museum" and walk around and read the written display (he has to make this) and when they touch his finger he is to be a talking wax figure and give his oral presentation. It must be memorized. He's less than thrilled by this. I can't say as I blame him. I'm stumped when it comes to creativity for this particular project. So, my dear friends, we're asking for ideas. If you can think of anything to spur our imaginations regarding Michael Waltrip, we'd love, love, love to hear it. What can we use to improvise a race car driver outfit? Do you know any interesting trivia about Michael Waltrip? Any and all ideas welcome!

I have so enjoyed all of your comments about the book TWILIGHT. I was talking to Cinnamon (whose book I am borrowing) at work Tuesday night about it and now she tells me that the first book is really just more of a set up for books two, three and four. She then tells me that it's really all about books three and four. I mean, really, this girl is sooo passionate about these books that it just makes me so curious. What if I give up and I really would love books three and four? So, I've decided that I'm absolutely going to finish this first one. If it turns out better than I'm expecting, I will attempt book two. If not, I'm diving in to my pile of books to be read with no regrets. Thank you so much for all of your comments and opinions. I love hearing what everyone thinks. Isn't it fun that everyone is so different. What a boring world it would be if we were all cut from the same cloth. I also loved the book recommendations that some of you made. I've written them down and will add them to my list. In fact, if anyone didn't make a recommendation and you'd like to please tell me your favorite books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I don't get it!

I'm late to this particular party and I'm having a problem getting in the "party mood". It seems you can't go anywhere for the past six months or so and not hear about how wonderful TWILIGHT is. Really, it seem that anyone who reads anything has read or is reading TWILIGHT. I love love love to read and should seriously consider a 12 step program for out of control book buyers, but this one is just not doing it for me. First of all it's about a vampire. I've never been into science fiction and books about vampires smack of science fiction to me. I decided this is one book series trend I was going to sit out. I was fine with that decision, truly. But my friends just wouldn't hear of it. Everyone kept telling me, "You just HAVE to read it!". So, okay, curiosity finally got the best of me and my friend, Cinnamon, at work lent me her copy. I've had this book now for over a month and I've picked it up about 5 times and have finally make it to page 148 of 498.

I can see why young girls might like this book. It's very highschoolish to me. I'm determined to get through it now and keep waiting for that "oh my gosh, this is soooo good" feeling to overtake me and keep me up reading when I should be sleeping. I don't see it happening though. I won't watch the movie until I've finished reading the book. In the meantime I have a huge pile of delicious books screaming at me to read them but I know that if I give in to that temptation I will never finish TWILIGHT.

So, what do you all think of this book? Am I the only one that doesn't think this book is the best thing since sliced bread?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Empty Nest

Patrick and Amber are house hunting in preparation for their marriage in October. I am thrilled that Patrick has chosen Amber. I couldn't love her more if she were my own flesh and blood daughter. I look forward to their wedding and watching them begin their life together.

It's funny, when your kids are little you just kind of imagine that they are always going to be around. Somehow, I forgot to factor in that kids grow up and LEAVE YOU!!! I didn't have kids for them to grow up and LEAVE ME! Now, don't worry, I'm saying this with a smile on my face. I didn't REALLY think that they'd be with me forever. But darn it, I wish they could be. Remember the 1980's show DALLAS? They all lived together with Jock and Miss Ellie, and I thought that was a wonderful idea. My dream is to win the lottery and build a family compound. It would have a pool, a tennis court, a horse barn and arena, a park and right in the middle of it would be a great big house with a huge kitchen and family room. Each child would have their own wing with their own kitchen and family room for when they needed to be alone. And right there in the middle of it all would be Grandma (me!) available for babysitting and chats over coffee. I know, I know, I've always been accused of being a Pollyanna, but darn it, I think it would work!

Emily has been living in Florida for several years and Sarah and Bennie have been married since 2005. Patrick was in Florida for college for two years and then lived here while he finished school closer to home. After college he got his own apartment. Austin was born while he was in Florida and he lamented the fact that he finally had the little brother he'd wanted his whole life and he wasn't getting to enjoy him. So, I told him it was silly for him to waste money on an apartment when we had two empty bedrooms sitting here. I pointed out that he'd have someone to do his laundry and cook for him if he moved back home and finally, the lure of his little brother brought him home to live again. I've been in heaven having him here. He's the son every mother wants. Everyone who knows him loves him. Quite simply, he's a joy to have around.

It's finally starting to really hit me that he is going to be for good. He's going to have his own home. I'm thrilled for him, of course. I look forward to seeing him become a husband and father. It's as it should be and I know he's chosen the right partner. But man is it ever hard to imagine him not being here every day.

We won't really have an empty nest when he leaves. Austin is only ten years old and we have some real interesting years coming up with him (Lord, help me get through one more teenager!). But it's definitely going to be different around here. I stand by my statement that I didn't have kids for them to grow up and move away. I know a lot of people look forward to the day that their kids fly away from the nest. I'm not one of them. They'd better give me lots of grandchildren to make up for it!!!!

Hang in there with me while I work through my background drama! I'll decide sooner or later! I've wasted so much time fiddlin' with this today. So, PUZZLED seemed to fit for the moment. Who knows where it'll end up!

Another update: Beth like the Puzzle background, but this one is sooo me! We'll see how long it stays.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So much for the Geek Squad

I'm back on my little gem of a laptop, no thanks to the Geek Squad at that B B store.

My laptop had been acting a little funny for a couple of days prior to it going completely dark on me and my thinking was that it had something to do with the AC adaptor or the battery. Even when it was plugged in it was showing that it was on battery power. Then the other day it wouldn't even turn on. We quickly learned how easily we come to take things for granted! It was so frustrating! I had a busy work week and decided I could live without it until the weekend. NOT! So, before I went to work on Thursday I stopped by Best Buy with it and stood in line for what seemed hours to have them check out the AC adaptor and battery. The guy plugged it in to three different adaptors and the little light on the front still wouldn't light up. So he told me that it had to be the motherboard that was shot. He gave me the telephone number for HP and told me to call them and get a new one. I was disappointed, but resigned to the fact that this was not going to be a quick fix.

When I got back in my car I decided to call my brother and ask him what he thought of that diagnosis. He told me to take it to his friend who works at a computer store that also services computers and maybe he could sell me a motherboard cheaper than HP would. I had about 45 minutes before I had to be at work so I ran over there with my little sick laptop.

Ricky turned it over and took out every component: memory, CD drive, and other things that I don't even know the names for! He then put everything back in, plugged it in to a new HP adaptor and pushed the button to power it up. Eureka!!! Bells and whistles.....she powered up!
He said that Best Buy had probably used generic adaptors and that he'd used the HP adaptor that was specific to my computer. Total cost: $25.00. Ricky is my "Person of the Week"!!!

The lesson I learned is that the Geek Squad is not the last word in computer diagnostics.

(UH OH! I just tried to add a picture and it won't let me. I'm hoping that is a temporary blogger problem and not a computer problem.)

Monday, March 9, 2009


I am currently experiencing computer problems.

The desktop (I am currently using to post this) is such a relic that the pictures aren't even showing up when I try to read your blogs (and I soo adore looking at pictures!). My laptop has suddenly refused to turn on; not sure if it's the actual computer or if it's the battery or adapter or both. Since a new computer is most definitely not in the budget for right now I'll muddle through with what is available at the moment.

I've asked the universe for a new computer...stand by!