Friday, August 21, 2009

Into the Somewhat Great Unknown...

So, a big change in my life is about to occur. Today is my last day at work and on Monday I start my ADN classes at Forsyth Tech full time. I can’t wait for this whole transition, but I have no idea what its going to be like. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. It’s got to be at least somewhat similar to the grueling schedule I had in ’08. I don’t even remember last year it was so busy or traumatic or both. The whole schedule of working full time, going to night school and studying every spare second of the day (or night) was really pushing my sanity limit. I don’t even know how I found time to serve in leadership or worship or even be a wife at all. Did I? Like I said, can’t recall much about last year.

I keep telling myself that starting Monday, my life is going to be different. I say that in a good way. I tell myself that I’m putting something down before I pick something else up, that I will actually have time to breathe and spend with my husband and the rest of humanity. But the truth is, I just don’t know.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve been making myself relax all summer. My advisors even told us, “Rest up, freshman class of ’09, because you are going to need it come Fall.” So, with that in mind, I’ve been reading books and hanging out with friends and family and coming into work late and watching all my favorite shows and just being down right lazy at times. There is always a problem with this because I only have two kinds of gears. I have fast and slow. That’s it. No in-between. I’m either going approximately 420 miles an hour or the average gimp can pass me. This is mostly because I have to drive myself to get up the courage just to get going and once I get going I have to use my momentum to propel myself forward, not give myself enough time to be afraid.

Well, I’m just a bit nervous, you might say, about how I’m going to get myself going again after all this down time. To tell you the truth, aside from the fact that I’m in a job where I could become suicidal because it is so pointless, this past summer has been down right enjoyable. I mean shopping at Ikea and the beach and gobbling up all the pleasure books I can get my hands on and re-acquainting myself with music I love and Ikea and having friends over and not caring if I get fired for being late and did I mention Ikea? I think I could get used to all of this.
Okay, so I know myself better than that. I know in my head that about 3 years ago, I had all this stuff and it wasn’t enough. I know in my head that I want to live adventure, not just read about it in a book. I know that eventually (if not already) I will run out of money to spend at Ikea, and it will just become the bitter truth that there is chic organizing stuff out there that is just out of my grasp.

Then there is the question as to whether I can really do this. Can I really stand all the trauma and gore and blood and needles? Oooo needles, I love needles. Sick, I know, but at least I know that I will be okay with that much. It’s just that I’m realizing that God still has a lot to get me through. You could even say its just beginning. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is where it should be. God has been generous enough to say, “Okay, here’s the deal. If I want you to go in this direction, I’ll get you through each step. You just give it everything you have and I’ll make up the distance.” Well, ‘make up the distance’ he has on more than one occasion in this journey, and that’s strangely comforting even though it means yanking my “control” card. It’s just that there is a lot on the line, and a lot of people are counting on and watching and judging me! And what if I kill someone!

Okay. *takes a deep breath* Lets not think about that. Let me rephrase. What it actually means is, a lot of people are counting on God, including me and I have a lot of people rooting for me, which is wonderful and good and I shouldn’t just decide to forget it all like a coward and go off and live as a hermit somewhere where no one can find me. That is what I mean. *smiles confidently* I’m sure everyone is tempted to cut and run at some point in there life. Mine is right now. The problem is where would I go? (Yes, I have thought about that.) I can’t go back to where I was working, because, well…you just can’t make me. And I don’t know where else I would go. I’m sure there are lots of places, they are all just equally terrifying, which I’m sure was God’s plan the whole time because there is no where to go logically but forward if they are all terrifying anyway. It’s funny how well God knows me. I see that now. I may not like it, when it would be so much safer to just hide out under the covers and read or watch adventures instead of having them.

Plus, I know (and the big man upstairs probably does too) that that moment of terror is right before I’m pushed over the edge into a righteous focus of anger and determination. Do you know what I mean? It’s that realization that you are so tired of physically and mentally grappling with that gnawing stab of fear and anxiety that you crack… in a good way. You decide you don’t care anymore if you succeed or fail, live or die, you are putting an end to that looming monster in front of you and you just take a plunge headlong right into it. For me, that’s when I put my game face on; with it on, I mentally have a different frame of mind. Most people don’t even recognize me whenever I’m wearing my game face. They ask questions like, “Are you angry with me?” or “Is something wrong?” or “Are you going to reach in and pull out my heart with your bare hands and then eat it with a spoon?”

Alright, so in those instances, I suppose I am somewhat angry you might say, but it is with myself and not so much with others. True, I am more likely to run you over without even noticing at that point, which could be somewhat hazardous. But for me it’s a focus of energy to be committed without hesitation to the task that I have been given. It is a rallying of righteous determination to succeed despite the pain, or size of obstacles, or horrific superpower of my enemy, which strangely turns out to be math a lot of times. Its when one half of me turns to the other shaking half and say, “This is ridiculous. This fear makes no sense and there no truth in it. God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” And, “don’t you remember the words of your Father when he said,
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’

Don’t you remember each step that he took time to prove to you? Don’t you remember his long standing patience, his accessible resources, and that fact that he can just miraculously make things happen? What is there to fear? So, after that conversation (yes, with myself) I can confidently (okay, so, if I’m honest its more like diffidently) move forward into the this new expedition, knowing from past experience that I will get to witness first hand God’s creation of success in my life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fiasco That Was My Saturday

Originally, Mum and I were suppose to take Seri to the zoo while her parents had a nice little weekend getaway, but the little girl's allergies were giving her a really hard time last week, so we switched to the children's museum. Well, everything was working out as planned...

As soon as I enter the house, I am immediately told (by the 3-year-old who is still in her pj's) to come and sit down so that she can paint my nails. I make ooo's and ahh's over how beautimus they look, while simultaneously keeping the polish from spilling on the floor.

After my now two-toned nails have dried, I tell Seri that we have donuts for breakfast, the powder sugar kind, and convince her to stay at the table while she is eating them. I say "at the table" because she will not remain seated and constantly keeps one foot on the floor. By the time she is finished, there is a sugar mustache around her lips, on the chair and in little clouds on the floor. Seri then begins running around the house screaming because the sugar has kicked in. Man that stuff works fast.

Finally, Seri is dressed and I have successfully convinced her to wear her sandals, that they will go much better with her sun dress, instead of her snow boots. She asks me if we are going somewhere. We are just about to walk out the door when Mum has a realization. The car seat, just so happens to be sitting at her house where she left it, which is about 45 minutes away. We look everywhere in hopes of finding a spare one. We call Tommy and Liz so nicely disturbing their break away from everything in hopes that a close by friend has one that we can borrow. Finally, Mum decides to just teach herself a lesson and drive the full 1 hr. 30 mins round trip to retrieve the car seat. Before she leaves we must take a few or twenty minutes to try and explain to the little girl exactly why she can't go in the car with Ema. We finally persuade her to stay with me and do a fashion show while Ema is away. First we have to explain what a fashion show is..."you dress up in all your princess clothes and walk down the hall and twirl and dance and stuff to music while I take your picture." She likes this idea very much.

I find a music station on the tv and the fashion show starts and she is twirling and whirling about while I say "lovely, darling. Just beautiful. I'm loving it!" and such, while snapping pictures. After each outfit she says, "I want to see" and I have to show her how her pictures came out. During one particular jaunt down the catwalk a different song starts playing and some of the lyrics include "kissing boys" and other inappropriate content. I frantically change the station while trying to distract her with more oo's and ah's. As soon as I change the station, she stops her posing and says, "can you turn it back to that song about kissing?" Inside I am completely horrified thinking that her parents are really going to have my head this time, but I maintain a casual disinterested face and talk about finding a station with country music.

The next performance ends with her saying that she is going to wait in this outfit because it is so fabulous that she wants to show Ema when she gets back. Next, the decision is to watch a Hello Kitty DVD, but not on the big TV, on her dad's Mac Book. I pick up the Mac Book and my vision goes blurry with panic because I cannot figure out how to insert the DVD. The 3-year-old says, "I know how to do it" and proceeds to cram the DVD into a barely visible slit in the side of the computer, followed by a decidedly disturbing sound. I begin to hyperventilate, but suddenly the image of Hello Kitty appears on screen. I look down at the innocent, smiling Seri Beth.

The phone rings while I am making Seri a sandwich and its her dad inquiring about the car seat and if we'd found one yet. I tell him about Mum going home to get it, and he tells me that we really should not have gone through all that trouble, and to just let Seri play outside with the sprinkler for awhile. I agree with him, but it is too late now because Mum is halfway home already. I set up the sprinkler anyway.

Seri is having a ball, not actually from playing in the sprinkler, but in the mud puddles that are now cropping up in the yard. She wants me to play in the puddles too. I remember that the only clothes I brought (intended for an outing to the children's museum) are the ones I have on. I roll my pants up and gingerly step into the puddles while Seri wholeheartedly leaps into them. I make the mistake of letting Seri's puppy out to play with us. Now in addition to the puddle splashes I have muddy paw prints on my clothes. The dog then rolls in the mud. The once white, now decidedly brown dog starts making a mad dash for me. I decide to put the dog back in her crate, holding her at arms length in front of me while she is gyrating spastically.

Out in the yard again Seri is beginning to look a little pink from the sun. I guilty note that I should have put sunscreen on her and I let her know that its time to go inside. She looks up at me from her play and says, "but I'm a princess on a journey." I suggest that maybe her ladyship can journey to the inside of the house. This works and we tip toe through the house directly to the bathtub. She suddenly asks in a whisper, "Why are we tip toeing? Is someone asleep?"

About the time that Mum gets back, Liz and Tommy walk through the door. Seri asks, "Are we GOING somewhere?" as she has done so throughout the day, each time laced with more exasperation than the last. Mum and I decide to take Seri to the children's museum despite how late it is. After a couple of wrong turns, accompanied by "Whoa!" from the little girl and the responding, "Yeah, Aunt Cory drives a little differently than Ema," coming from the back seat, we finally arrive at the original point of our destination.

At this time it is 3:30 in the afternoon. We walk up to the desk to get our tickets and the nice man behind it says that the museum will close at 4:00 pm. Silence. Mum and I just look at each other for a minute. The same disgruntled expression mirrored on each face. The man lets us into the museum free of charge, and we teased Seri with 25 minutes of play time in the coolest tree house I've ever seen. I've no idea how we got her out of there by closing time. Must have been the prayers, promises to come back and/or bribe of going to get ice cream afterwards.

I was hoping the day was not disappointing to Seri, but as we were leaving the museum (her between Mum and I, each of her little hands in one of ours) she said, "We had a good day today, didn't we."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Mad Platter

Got to experience the Mad Platter Pottery Studio with some friends last week for the first time. How it works is you go there, pick out your pottery piece (prices range from 7$ and up), then you pick out paint colors (unlimited supply) and you have access to all their tools. They have everything from sponges to brushes to stencils. Then you sit and paint.

They run a special for
2$ an hour on Tuesdays and a free wine on Thursdays. Most of the paints are food friendly and your piece will be microwave and dishwasher safe when you take it home.

I decided on a small serving bowl, and in two hours time I had completely finished it. Of course if you need more time, you can come back and finish. My methods were very simple and abstract so it took me no time at all.

The staff is very friendly and help you on color and
tool selection to get the look that you want.
You leave your piece with them and after they fire it,
its ready for pick up. I went in on Tuesday
and got a call on Thursday night that it was ready.
The whole experience was 16$ and I had a
serving new bowl to use for chips and dip for a cookout on Saturday! I'm definitely going back...I have my eye on a serving platter to paint for next time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life Without Jon

I'm seriously pathetic, because one week without Jonathan and I'm feeling like my right arm has been cut off. This is probably due to the fact that he does a lot of work and makes a lot of things happen in my life. You know, all the important stuff like cooking and loading the dishwasher. Also, he knows all things that you could possibly want to know, such as legal advice and how water fountains work.

Early on in the time off from each other my approach to life is optimistic. I look forward to taking this time to do things that I ordinarily would not do when he's at home. Some of those activities include watching a dorky tv series, or staying up late, or eating fake food (such as anything off of the menu from McDonalds), all of which would most certainly result in deep sighs, eye-rolling, and disapproving remarks coming from the general direction of Jonathan's body.

However, about mid-week, I am starting to feel a slight ache approximately in the center of my chest, roundabouts where my heart would be located if I admitted to having one or feelings or any of the fru fru girly stuff. At this point, I am finding myself fantasizing about how I would survive on my own say if I had a flat tire or if my iPod broke or if I had to figure out how to cook all that meat in my freezer or mainly anything having to do with mechanical stuff or cooking. I frequently give myself pep talks.

By the end of the week I am considering life on my own and trying to be optimistic about it like the fact that if I were on my own that I could finally have a cat and how wonderful it would be. However, this leads me to compare in my mind the value of a cat versus the value of Jonathan and that he is gone from me forever and there is nothing I can do to get him back and now I am doing everything possible not to run weeping from my cubical for the death and loss of my beloved Jonathan. I tell myself not to be silly, but it is too late. Off and on I find myself angry at him because he is gone, and it is his fault whenever things go wrong, like the fact that I took that wrong turn or ordered a chicken gordita when I really wanted a steak chalupa with extra sour cream.

In the last hours of my solitude I am brimming with excitement because I know that I will soon get to see him and I feel as if he will be back from the dead. Again, I tell myself not to be silly. Occasionally, I panic because I have not gotten to finish my dorky mini series and still have a couple of chicken patties left. But mostly I just make a mental list of all the things I am going to do to make him pay--er--let him know how much I missed him.

However, when he walks through the door I am suddenly shy and decide to be aloof and deny myself the acknowledgment that I could actually be so silly with anticipation. I busy myself with being self important and tell him everything that he needs to catch back up on things such as the finances and other business related topics, all delivered in a professional tone. Inside I am wondering if he noticed that I mopped the kitchen floor and how sparkly it is. I fight the compulsion to tell him random attention seeking comments, like it was a close call the other day when my blood sugar dropped, and that I used my coupon to get 2 Arby's subs for 5$. Instead I am suddenly quiet because I have run out of informative things to say.

He asks me if I am okay. I say that I'm fine and that I just don't know how to be around him right now because he has been gone for such a long time. I mentally remind myself that it was just one week. My face reddens. He gives me a hug and tells me that he missed me. I decide that its okay to be a little more open and tell him that I missed him too...sort of. He smiles and knows the truth and that I am being conservative.

I am relieved that I don't actually have to say it, but I tell him anyway, that I actually missed him a lot.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Need You, Mum.

I got to sing on Mother's Day this year. Although I was just a vocalist helping to lead worship, singing for my parents has always been close to my heart. I think because they love it so much too. I honor them and they take joy in me. Several times we have had jam/praise sessions, where we all sit around the house and play and sing. Its amazing how God moves us closer to him and each other during those times.

One of my Dad's favorite songs is Song for the Mira, a Canadian folk song that Liz and I used to sing to him while sitting on the front porch swing. It would always bring tears to his eyes. I was so honored to sing it at my sister's wedding for the father-daughter dance. Whenever they would dance close to me I could hear them singing too, as if we were the only people in the room. Not sure what it is about that one song, but Jon loves it too.

I was informed last year that Mother's Day is all about the cheese. Well, I've never been into the cheese. However, this year for Mum's Day, Seacoast showed a clip called I'll Need You, Mom, and it was everything that I wanted to say to my mother. No cheese, no flowery "your a saint and I want to be just like you." No fru fru attempt to patronize her to death for this one day, just the simple truth, and it still brings tears just thinking about it. My mother, despite all her imperfections, despite all her own insecurities and issues that she was dealing with, taught me the things that I needed to know at every turn.

Its such an exacting measure of how God wants all of us to live our lives. Keep going, keep telling, keep pointing to the truth, no matter how imperfect you are. Its not about how complete you are from the get go, its about who will complete you. Its about the source of your perfection. I am so grateful to this woman I call Mother for teaching me that.

On a lighter note, I can't talk about M-Day without mentioning Seri.'s the scene for you:

Liz opens her card from me which reads, "If you can't say something nice, call me on my cell phone." Shortly after reading it (and mid-thank to me), Seri snatches the card out of her mother's hand, and begins beating her mother over the head with the greeting card, laughing with glee. Tommy, taking a moment to witness the abuse of the mother of his child, fittingly says, "Well, Happy Mothers Day!" Glowering across from me over the torrent of greeting-card assaults, Liz shoots me a look that says, how about I call you right now!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Scapbooking Ideas

-Home: where I grew up and all the special places that mean so much to me there: the barn, my room, Mum by the bay windows in the kitchen, view off the roof of the Liz's bedroom, the peninsula off our little portion of the Little Uwharrie River, porch swing.

-Grandparent's House: all the special furniture and treasures from around the world that are arranged just so. Grandma and all her teapots. Grandpa's accomplishments as a commercial seaman (awards, certificates, etc.)

-Company project: my project at work that I have devoted over 3 years of my life to, which just so happens to be a 5-star resort and cabins.

-Missions trips: Just a few but definitely worth documenting, especially the one to beautiful Belize.

-Aunt & Uncle's place: Really unique people who live practically off the land and have a great home that they have added to over the years. Their hospitality is unreal and very hard to find.

-Mum & Jon's Photo Shoots: Mum used me as her model quite often for all the assignments that she had in photography school and some of them came out really amazing. Jon loves to set up armature photo shoots too. I've never thought of myself as a model, but the photographer makes all the difference. (Probably would do these as a digital storybook instead of traditional).

-Wilmington Trip w/ Brandi: We had so much fun and documented everything.

Guess I will keep adding to this.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fun times

Occasionally, I have to answer the phones at my place of work. You would really be surprised by some of the responses I get. Although I am going to use a fictitious name (so that I don't get sued later), my official greeting and the responses that follow goes something like this:

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Yes".... *long pause*
"How can I help you?"
"Oh, well I need...."

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Is Mr. Smith there?"
"Umm, Mr. Smith sold the company years ago. In fact, I'm not quite sure if Mr. Smith is still living."

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Someone just called me from this number."
"Sir, do you know who called you?"
"Do you know which project its concerning?"
"Sir, I'm not sure how to direct your call, then."

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Yes, are you guys bidding on you know that store being built somewhere in Greensboro."
"Do you know what the name of the project is, or the contact person?"
"Umm, no."
"I'm sorry. I won't be able to direct your call without more information."
"So, you don't know if your company is doing that job."
"No, sir, I do not."

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Is Tim there? Sir, we have eight Tim's total in our company. Can you give me a last name?"
"Um, I did not write that down."
"Do you know which project its regarding? Maybe I can direct your call based on which office is handling the project."
"I don't remember the name of the project. Someone else referred me and told me to ask for Tim."
I wait, thinking maybe the obvious will sink in.
"I will ask the person who referred me for more information and call you back."
"That sounds like a great idea."

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Who is this?"
"You are speaking with Cory?"
"Well, you don't sound like the person I normally talk to."
"I'm not, she is on lunch. Can I help you with something?"
"Oh yeah, I need to talk to...."

"Mike W. Smith Contracting, can I help you?"
"Is so-in-so in?"
"I'm sorry, he is out of the office. Would you like his voicemail?"
"Well, maybe you can help me with this."
"Can you tell me what the measurements are for the tiling on the Target project?"
"Sir, I just handle the administrative side of projects."
"Well, I just need to know how many really."
"I'm sorry, sir, I do not even know how to read construction drawings. I'm sure he'll call you back if you leave him a message."
"Well, okay, I guess."

I just love working with the public. Its the funnest part of my job!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Need Something Stronger Than Sarcasma

Just a little forewarning...I'm going to vent a little right now and let me just start off with saying that I in no way think that I am spotless or perfect.

So first of all I'm not in the best mood today and while I am perfectly in touch with the notion that I am not a slave to my moods, it sure feels that way sometimes. I seem to be resisting temptation to tell a few specific people that they actually in fact are the most annoying people on the planet and should in fact win an award for it. So, I feel like I'm doing pretty good so far because the urge is really strong today.

Then at lunch I'm in a public kitchen fixing my sandwich and there is not much room in there to begin with. A man comes in and starts opening his microwave meal and I'm thinking, he expects me to move, right? Well, I'm not moving today, I was here first and he will just have to wait. Then he reaches over me to try and put his stuff in the microwave forcing me to step back. But he can't even open the microwave because MY STUFF IS IN FRONT OF IT. So, he goes to the microwave on a shelf above it, still standing in front of me and tries to get it to work. He obviously is having a hard time pushing several buttons to no avail, while still STANDING IN FRONT OF ME, so he turns and asks me to help him get it working! This is all coming from a seemingly educated man, so he should have not excuse about his upbringing. FINALLY, he steps back and lets me finish what I was doing which took all of 2. whole. seconds. and the whole time he is in nervously hovering over me making chit chat, but I am so afraid of what I might say if I open my mouth for too long a period so I just give one word answers until I get can out of there. All I can say (that's appropriate) is: some people! I mean, really? There is nothing registering in your mind at all that what you are doing might be rude or inconsiderate in the least? I know, I know. I have no room to talk, but still its just really frustrating.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Simple Marriage

Jonathan sent me this article from Simple Marriage and it was so helpful that I wanted to share for all who were interested. I like the way that it acknowledges the physicality of emotional reactions and how to handle them. A lot of Christian couples that I know often go off of the verse that says, "don't let the sun go down on your anger" as a method for immediately dealing with relationship issues. I do agree that holding grudges and avoiding confrontation is a destructive way of dealing with conflict and will no doubt poison any relationship. However, I can attest that I am. two. completely. different. people. when I experience a "flooding" as the article describes.

I am a person who does not like unresolve and am not afraid of confrontation so, initially, in my relationship I would act off of this emotional split personality and become the Incredible Hulk of confrontation. Unfortunately, after seeing the damaging results of this approach, I began leaving or shutting myself off to cool down before coming back around to discuss an issue. But I must point out that for the most part whenever I removed myself from the situation it was a spur-of-the-moment action that also seemed to blindside my husband and left him worrying and maybe even feeling abandoned, not knowing if I was even coming back. His feelings were absolutely understandable because I felt the same whenever he left to cool off.

This article's concept of acknowledging that you and your partner are human and you have to deal with these emotions (not just pretend like they don't exist) and yet you have a way of handling them, even ahead of time, is really encouraging and hopefully something that will be effective in a practical way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Remembering Pete

Jon, Pete and I at our couples shower

This is going to be hard, but I want to remember a few things about Grandma Shirley (affectionately known as Pete) while it is still fresh in my mind. I have not known her for very long (only about 7 years), compared to the rest of the family, but after first meeting her she quickly turned into someone that I looked up to. Someone that I wanted to model my life after. Her personality was down to earth, completely unpretentious, strong and straight foreword and very warm and welcoming. With that said, she was extremely protective of her family and a shrewd judge of character. She permeated strength and wisdom and I have to say that that caught me by surprise and I immediately liked her. To my relief she immediately liked me and I was family from that point on.

Pete had blue blue eyes and rosebud lips. She was not a slight woman by the time I knew her, but stout and strong. She greeted me different from others. I have no idea why, but her eyes would always light up and she would say with the same intense, "Hey, you!" with a quick squeeze. If on occasion, I overlooked saying hi to her in this way, she would lock eyes on me and call me over, as if she was calling me out for it. One of her trade marks was that her nails were painted the same rosy color as her lips.

I always think that the character in the casket looks almost nothing like the person while they were living. In a way, I am a bit relieved for this because it’s a mark that that individual is truly gone from the body. Pete was no exception. The only trace that was left of her was the painted pink nails, just the way she always wore them.

Pete was a Scottish woman through and through. She was born a Montgomery and married a Davis. She was so much like me, feminine but with a bite that she used without hesitation whenever she needed it. After her first husband died (long before I knew her) she married Mallard, a brassy x-military man with a big heart, but pretty ferocious bark. When I first met Mallard, I could feel all eyes on me to see if I would run crying from the room after he made his first teasing jab at me. I suppose I have that sweet little girl look that deceives people into thinking that I am fragile. Jonathan just watched with an ever so slight smile on his face. He had already been up against the rough side of my tongue, and was just sitting back waiting for Mallard to get a taste of me. When I surprised Mallard (and the rest of the room) with a laugh and a quick come back, I think Pete and I instantly understood one another. You could tell that Pete and Mallard loved one another, but there was no doubt that she was a good match or that she could handle him. Jon and I would laugh out right whenever she landed one of her quick level retorts in response to whatever outrageous banter Mallard had aimed at her, only to look over and see a grin on Mallard’s face as well. He was loving it too.

Whenever she got so sick that she was in and out of consciousness, Shirley, my sister-in-law and Pete’s granddaughter, came to me and let me know that Pete had started a blanket for me. She said that Pete had knitted a blanket for all her granddaughters and after she had started on mine her hands got so that she could not knit very well anymore. When Pete knew that she was sick and would not recover she asked Shirley to finish mine for me. You cannot imagine how overwhelmed I was. I was so astonished that I said to Shirley, "But I’m not technically her granddaughter." She just smiled and said, "Yes you are. She sees you as her granddaughter." I just really do not know how to express the honor that I felt from such a gesture.

I cannot even come close to retelling how much she devoted her life to her children and their children and her great grandchildren. She was driven up until the very end to make a difference in all our lives. I just hope that we can make her proud with how we carry on without her.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Honest Worship

The dynamic of being a part of the worship team for me has been complicated.

First of all, I am a naturalist when it comes to art. I believe that the most beautiful and purest forms of art come from the depths of an individual's soul and that it cannot be synthesized or replicated. I also believe that it should not be produced for a public audience. It may be appreciated by others or celebrated, but never at its core purpose for the entertainment of others. If any of these elements are broken, then the outcome may be appreciated, but not as it would be at its truest form. Therefore, perfection plays only one role in art, that perfection lies in one's ability to be truly honest with oneself when creating it. There is no bad art or good art based on the lines of the drawing or the likeness of the picture to its reality. There is no bad writing or playing or music if you speak from your soul. Speak from your soul, and the raw simplistic openness is the personification of perfection.

However, more often than not, I have worshiped at some churches where the quality (or the lack thereof) in the musical department was pretty distracting to my personal worship experience within the congregation. Now, let me just state that I don't believe that congregation members should be coddled in their overall worship service experience. Just like children, I believe that Christians should be encouraged toward a state of strong and personally motivated interaction with God. However, if you are feeling that the you need to go to a quiet place other than church to better focus on God because of the individual on stage belting certain notes off key or because an instrument is growing louder and more obnoxious by the second I think that this could create certain aspect of one's worship experience that is not so beneficial.

When I first accepted the request to serve as a vocalist, I was very hard on myself because of the responsibilities that such a position carries, not to mention that anyone who really knows me also knows that I very shy and nervous when in front of a crowd of people. Despite my personality, the notion that still carries the most pressure for me is that I do not want to be responsible for distracting others from worship.

I love worship. On the spiritual gifts test, I have always scored high in it. Singing specifically is very sacred and the one act toward God that comes completely naturally to me. There's no disciplining myself to set aside time to do it like with reading the scriptures, or bringing myself back to focus on prayer, or forcing myself to be bold enough to go greet someone. Its like its a part of me. I go through withdrawals if I haven't had time or the opportunity to sing to the Lord. I feel stretched and pinched inside. So why has my attitude of late for something I love so much become cynical, cold and practical? I now think more about my performance and the performance of my fellow band members than actually enjoying worship.

I hate it. I know that this is not God's will for my life. This inappropriate perception also invites in other unwanted feelings such as jealously, criticism, competitiveness, and insecurity. I have to say right now, that I am desperately trying to get back to the heart of God. The heart of honest worship.

The Lord reminded me of a period in my life when my church family and even my husband and I were so divided on some issues and we were all taking sides. I was so hurt during that time and my center and purpose was shaken. I remember the Lord coming to me in the middle of all that pain and confusion. He simplified everything. He gave me a prayer to pray that turned to be my heart's cry. I prayed, "You are all that is good in me, in any of us, and I just want to be where You are." This prayer cleared my mind and gave me one burning desire. It was enough. I needed nothing else. I would go wherever, I would do whatever. I just wanted to be where He was.

When it comes down to it, this is why I sing. To be in Your presence. To always be where You are.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Strangest Thing...

Been hearing a lot of buzz about the strange weather we were having in our area on Wednesday this week. Well, I have to say that I agree and have my own version of it.

I was sitting at my computer in the sunroom of my apartment, studying for my TEAS retake. Now, my sunroom has two windows facing east and one window off to the side facing southwest. Well, the wind had obnoxiously been beating on the southwest facing window all day long. This dark cloud cap settled over everything, leaving only a thin line of the brighter horizon. After awhile I suddenly looked up from the computer because a torrent of rain was pelting the southwest window. Then, I looked out the east window and thought I was losing my mind! The sun was suddenly shinning and no rain at all. Southwest window: heavy rain. East window: nothing but sun. I ran outside to try and make since of things.

I will tell you that I have driven into a wall of rain before, but I have never been right on the line of a rain cloud. It was crazy. There might have been just a few drops of rain coming down just on the border of the line from the torrenting rain, but that was it. I mean as far as the eye could see out looking east, it was clear and nothing but rain looking toward the west.

Then looking east, two rainbows appear side by side. One was really bright and the other one a little paler. I had no idea other people had seen them too. Check out Chelsey's blog, she has some really nice pics of the rainbows.