Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Donut House

Yes, this is me, my first day of work.  It was fun and I was good at it.  But for some reason, the euphoria didn't last.  Did I lose money from the register?  Maybe I wrung up every single donut for the wrong price.  A customer complaint?  I bet it was the customer that left me a $5 tip that complained about my poor customer service because I smiled too much.  Let's see, what else could have gone wrong?  I may have not used enough soap in the dishwater or I may have stocked the refrigerator to full with milk.  Sweeping under tables and under the fryer was definitely over board.  Does any of this sound incredibly silly to you?  Well apparently the owner/manager of the Hayden Donut House feels these are all very serious offenses.

Saturday morning was cold and sunny.  I was going to get up at a decent time and get the kids a decent breakfast so we could then run some errands.  But my bed was so warm and my body was too heavy to lift itself out of my cushy Heaven.  I finally did, around 10 AM.  I kind of thought about getting donuts but quickly rejected the thought because we don't need to spend money on something silly like that.  Oh, donuts sounded good though.  And fun!  So, of course, I grabbed our change jar and marched us out to the car.

It was really fun and I'm glad we went.  It was cheap and didn't take anything but our leftover pocket change.  PLUS they had a "Help Wanted" sign.  The hours were Tuesday through Friday, sometimes Saturday, 5 AM to 12 PM.  Wow, that couldn't be any more perfect!  I brought my resume into Matt (owner/manager) that evening.  I recognized him from my high school days of hanging out there late at night doing "homework."  He gave me an on the spot 3 minute interview asking me the basic questions like, "Why this job and not one in your field?"  I explained I'm a stay at home mom and not career driven.  I want this job because donuts are "awesome" and getting a second paycheck would help my family tremendously.  I explained we are newly weds with two kids yadda-yadday-yadda.

Matt told me he'd call early in the upcoming week about the job, probably Monday.  He called Sunday night, offered me the position, which I accepted and then asked if I could start the following morning at 5.  He said the girl who works on Mondays is one of his best girls and he wanted me to learn from her. He explained the job is pretty basic: hand out donuts, smile and make some decent tips.  He said the girl who's place I am taking didn't seem to understand the concepts of customer service and her tips showed the fruits of that.

I was really excited.  I scored big!  Everyone told me he's a great guy and he and his wife are Christians.

 I didn't sleep at all that night.  Nerves, excitement, who knows.  I hadn't had a real job like this in a long time.

My first day was great.  Emily, the "best girl" was nice and walked me through everything.  I told her my goal was to learn everything on the first day - which we did.  I asked a little about what Matt is like as a boss.  Emily said Matt doesn't say much, you don't know something is wrong until he either yells at you about it or fires you.  Essentially, this is what happened to the girl I was replacing.  I thought it was great she was getting fired.  "I hate it when the boss doesn't have the cajones to fire employees who obviously are not up to par," were my exact words.

My first day came and went.  I didn't hear from Matt again until Wednesday afternoon.  He left me a voicemail asking if I could work Thursday morning for a 3 hour shift getting better acquainted with the antique register system.  I wished he could have called me about any day but Thursday - I had appointments all morning.  I didn't hear from him again until the following Saturday night.  He wanted me to come in on Monday to work with Emily again and then start my regular shifts on Tuesday by myself.

Monday came and went.  Emily was allowed to leave around 10 because I had a handle on things.  The place was sparkling clean when Matt came in.  He told me good luck tomorrow, just take my time and double check everything.

Usually Matt calls at least a couple of times during the morning shifts to see how things are going.  He did not call once on Tuesday.

I arrived at 5 AM sharp and immediately got busy.  Tuesday turned out to be a lot busier than Monday.  Because Emily told me Matt really likes things to be clean, I was very thorough with my tasks.  My goal - as it is with every job I have had - was to be the best donut girl there.

The sun rose steadily all morning and I could feel that I was getting pretty behind with the cleaning duties in the kitchen.  I simply wasn't good enough yet at juggling all the duties while having a line at the register and a car at the drive through.  I know I did a good job because customers told me that and one guy even left me a $5 bill in the tip bucket.  I was so busy that day I didn't even have time to grab a few bites of my PB&J sandwich.

I am in charge of making the different glazes when they get low.  First was the regular glaze then I needed to make the chocolate.  The white glaze took all morning to make because there were either more customers coming in or a growing pile of dishes.  I wasn't sure which was more important so I did a lot of multi-tasking.  After making the glaze, I really wasn't sure if it was right.  Matt's wife stopped by to drop some stuff off.  I told her a little about the day, how busy it had been and that I know I'm behind on what normally is done by 11:00 AM.  She checked the glaze, told me to add some water, which I did.  I didn't think that is what I should have done but I finished up anyways since it was the owner/manager's wife who told me to do this.

I got the kitchen organized, though not swept, or mopped, or thoroughly cleaned by the time Matt showed up at 12 PM on the dot.  I had just finished making the chocolate glaze.  He looked first at the donuts and said, "Yeah, a pretty decent day."  He went straight into the locked office and was in there for a few minutes.  I wasn't sure if I should leave or talk to him.  When he came back out I just started talking.  Isn't that what you are supposed to do when handing a shift off?  I told him there might be a mixup with money in the first register although it is all there.  I told him how I thought an old man stole a piece of bread in the morning.  I explained my confusion about the glaze and apparently I made the chocolate wrong as well.  His response to all of this was, "You'll get the hang of it."

I left the Donut House feeling like I had failed although I truly had done my best.  I made myself feel better because I knew this was only my first day and my worst day.  Tomorrow would be so much better.

Later that night I got another voicemail.  Why I kept missing his calls, I do not know.  He told me I need more training, to take the next day off, he would call me tomorrow about working Thursday or Friday.

I called him Wed afternoon because I hadn't heard from him.

I called him Thursday afternoon and left a message because I hadn't heard from him.

I called him Friday afternoon because I hand't heard from him.

I was thoroughly confused.  I was elated to have a job and it was fun.   I was looking forward to a paycheck dedicated specifically to groceries and miscellaneous things that arose such as much needed doctor appointments.  But no phone call.  Not one retured phone call.  By Friday Jon and I were discussing the possibility that I had been fired.  He wasn't so sure but I felt confident that for some reason I wasn't wanted there.

  I couldn't stop thinking about the Donut House.   What had I done wrong?  Had I really screwed up that bad?  Am I not a very good employee now that I am a full-time mom and college graduate?  Did I seem too flustered and unable to handle my duties?  What the heck is going on??!!   

Saturday morning Jon and Ciena took me to get my paycheck.  I walked in the same time as a mob of soccer players and their families came in.  I sat in the back and waited.  Matt was there with one other girl.  I was nervous.  I hadn't expected Matt to be there.  I was embarrassed about whatever had happened but I didn't even know what to be embarrassed of.  I had already decided that this job was done.  A very small part of me thought Matt might tell me to come in for more training on Monday.  With knots in my stomach, I would have to tell him I got another job because I didn't expect to still work there after not hearing from him for a week.

The mob died down and I stood by the register.  I was really nervous now.  My heart was pounding and I was also getting more pissed at the fact he had not called to tell me whethere I was fired or not.  He walked up with a big smile and said, "Hi!"  Without returning the smile I told him I was here for my paycheck.  He laughed as he walked away and I realized he hadn't even recognized me.  I could feel me cheeks get hot with embarrassment as I waited for him to get back.  He laughed the whole to the locked little room where he kept the money.  I was mortified and felt very small.

He came back, held the paycheck up, and asked for my key.

"W-what?"  I could hardly believe my ears.  The flush on my cheeks felt hotter.  The knots in my gut twisted a little bit more.  I couldn't believe Matt was asking me for my key as if we had had a conversation about me not working there anymore.

"You're K-E-Y," he pronounced with great exaggeration while holding his free hand up and doing a key lock-unlocking motion.  Did he think I was deaf? Dumb?

"Oh ok."  Again, I was too stunned to completely comprehend what was happening.  My body was shaking and I was getting increasingly nervous.  I absentmindedly reached up my hand to take the check and said, "I'll go get it."  It felt more like a low mumble but whether or not he heard me was irrelevant to him.

"No, no,no," Matt said, stepping back with my paycheck.  I then realized how foolish I looked reaching up to take my paycheck without giving him my key.  This is standard for any job.  I knew this.  But did he really have to taunt me about it?

I turned around to go back out and get the key.  I was pissed that I hadn't thought to bring the key in the first place.  I hadn't even though about the key since I used it Tuesday morning.  By the time I got to the car I was beyond mad about the way I was being treated.  "Bastard. Bastard, bastard, bastard," I chanted the whole to my car.  I furiously opened the car door and found my purse and wallet.

"What happened babe?"  Jon was worried because he could see how upset I was.

"He's a bastard Jon.  He's actually doing this.  I can't believe he's doing this."  I felt tears come to my eyes but I pushed them down.  I was mortified for reasons I did not even know.  Did Matt even know? His wife?  What about the other donut girls?  Did they know?

I marched back inside and when Matt saw me enter with his precious key he put my check on the counter and stepped away.  Without looking up I dropped the key on the counter, grabbed my check and marched my butt out of there.

I opened the check in the car.  It was for all three days of work.  I wouldn't have to go in again next week for another paycheck.  This meant he planned for this.  He knew he would fire me days ago he just didn't have the decency to let me know.

It took me a few days to feel okay about what happened.  My pride took a sever beating that week and telling friends this story helped me let go of the tensions I felt about it.  God makes everything happen on purpose.  It's fine that I'm not working there anymore.  It gave me a taste of getting a paycheck and it left me wanting more.  This has caused me to continue to look for work and I am now working with a local author doing video work.  I won't get paid but I hope this will lead to other paid opportunities.

It still sometimes bugs me that I don't know what I did wrong.  I won't ever know and I have to be okay with that.  I just really wish the whole thing could have been handled better.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dude, did you know it's Halloween soon?

I don't know my neighbors, but it seems they are big fans of Halloween (and Christmas judging by their year-round Christmas lights).  If you have been to my house in the past month you will know exactly what I'm talking about.  For those that haven't been to my house I will try to explain.  Let's see... At Christmas time many people have big snowmen or snow globes that light up at night to decorate their yard.  They usually only have one and then smaller items to accentuate the one monster size snowman.  Somewhere, somehow my neighbors acquired not one, not two, but five of these monster sized purple halloween "items" that "glow" in the night.  There is a huge purple spider on their house and the legs aren't firmly attached so a few of them flap around in the wind.  There is a walk way with a ghost-like person attached to it and I'm told that it makes scary noises at you when you walk through it.  Then there's a big Scooby and a few others that I can't remember because I have yet had time to take everything in when I drive by.  It's just crazy!  And to be honest, it's so ugly.  Having one of those items might be fun, but five or six?  It's just insane.

Earlier in the month I was going door to door taping some fliers to the front doors, you know, a less confrontational form of solicitation.  This neighborhood is a little more upscale than mine (no big purple balloons in any front yards) so I found myself constantly admiring the perfectly manicured lawns (for the most part) and the interesting porch decorations.  A lot of the houses were very festive and decorated for fall with pretty wreaths, maybe a few pumpkins or something.  Then I saw a house that had put cobweb all over their front porch and you had to walk through the cob web and past a standing skeleton to get to the front door.  Another house had a hooded skeletel looking creature attached to the front door so it looked like the creature was halfway through the door.  And then there was another house with huge cobwebs but this one had a big, ugly black spider on the web.  Ew.

Of couse we all have to buy candy for this huge event so we are all seeing many different advertisements for the candy that is going on sale.  Believe it or not, I have a favorite commercial.  I think it's a kit-kat commercial but I could be wrong.  In this commercial there is a six year old little boy in full bat man gear standing in front of a bucket of candy and a sign that says "Please take one."  As he is standing there contemplating this a cute blonde little girl in what looks like a bee costume comes up and grabs a handful of candy.  "Batman's" moral compass is directed on her and he tells her about the sign to which she replies, "I can't read."  She takes one more piece of candy, rolls her eyes and skips away leaving a very dejected "Batman" behind.  Have you seen this commercial?  It's so cute!  You must keep your eyes out for it.

My last random thought about this holiday are the COSTUMES.  I like the costume part.  It's fun to pretend to be someone I'm not.  Last year I was Cinderella and although I was frozen by the end of the night, it was very fun to play the part of a princess.  I am always interested in seeing what innovative costumes people come up with and then the little girls in their tutus are all dressed up and look so adorable!  It's all very fun.   But as I'm sure you know everyone grows up and girls tend to wear less and boys tend to become more vulgar with their gore.  I do understand that these are generalizations and not everyone fits into these molds that I am discussing.  Anyways this happens, many of us have "been there" right? Riiiiight?? It's okay to nod your head, no one is looking.

There are two things that bother me about costumes.  First, the gore of it all and second, the slutty moms. So the gore...When we dress up and have blood running down our faces and clothes and a knife appears to have been stabbed through our skull, what are we celebrating?  When we dress up like ghosts, goblins, demons, devils, zombies etc., what are we celebrating?  I'll tell you.  It's death, it's evil, it's pain and in it's core, it's Lucifer himself.  Oh great, now I'm sounding like one of "those people" who's all obsessed with religion.  But hey, if that's how I sound then that's how I sound.  It's just that evil is very real whether we want to acknowledge that or not.  I really struggle with the idea that this is something to be celebrated.

Okay, enough.  Now the slutty moms.  Oh man, did I touch a nerve?  Oops.  Oh well, I'm over it now and hopefully you are too.  It bothers me, no, it pisses me off when I see or hear that a mom is planning to "dress up" for Halloween as a sex object.  Ok come on, I know you know what I'm talking about; slutty television and movie characters, firefighters and police officers with only a quarter of the uniform on, french maid, sexy nurse, the list is endless.  It kills me to see moms in particular conform themselves to these ideas of femininity because of the message it will send to the kids.  I feel bad for the teenage boy whose mom, dressed as a play boy bunny, prances about serving candy or heads off to a party.  How embarrassing for that 15 year old.  I feel like I'm in the process of crossing over some unsaid boundary so I'm going to stop with this blog while I'm nervous.

Halloween does have it's pros and cons.  I'm not one of those moms who is going to forbid the kids to dress up and trick-or-treat.  But I am going to be careful.  I hope that if Halloween starts taking us down a wrong path that my husband and I will see it and be able to take action against it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baby Steps

Hypothetically, let's say...

You are a manager at Starbucks. One fine day one of your baristas comes to you because you have yet another customer with ruffled feathers you need to smooth out. It's annoying because even though you have no proof, this particular barista seems to come to you with disgruntled customers often. She is a bit of a know-it-all because she has been making lates and mochas for a number of years. However it's her attitude that has caused her to stay in the pay grade of a barista versus moving up in the chain of command.

You get to the counter and this customer is not upset. This is customer is irate. Apparently her order has been messed up twice this week and she is now late to work because she has to wait for her grande-tripple-skinny-white-vanilla-late to be remade. So what are you to do when your customer is yelling at you about the quality of your coffee, your staff, even the cleanliness of your bathrooms? Hopefully, you would do what any good manager would do and stand there politely listening until she is finished. Meanwhile, the barista who you are certain has caused this ruckus is going about her work without a seeming care in the world.

When the customer is done listing off every complaint she has about the Starbucks Corporation, it's your turn to quietly apologize, as I'm sure any of us would do in this situation. You might say, "I'm very sorry for the inconvenience. I completely understand where you are coming from. On behalf of everyone here, I am very sorry. It's true, sometimes we make mistakes but that is no excuse for how you have been treated." OR, on a bad day, you might say, "You know what, I don't know why you are yelling at me. I didn't make your drink, I didn't screw it up. Why don't you find the person responsible for making you angry and yell at her. This isn't my fault!"

Well, if you responded with the second response you probably wouldn't have to worry about seeing that lady again. However, she is the type to go to the next level and you could end up losing your job. Hmmmm.... You just never know.

So what's the point of this "hypothetical" scenario I've just concocted? Well, I'm wondering if, as a Christian, we do this as well. Christians have a very bad rep in today's society. We are known as rude, uncaring, boring, ritualistic, fake, hypocritical, judgmental, and a list of other not-so-nice names that I'm sure you can come up with on your own. This is not Christianity. At least, it's not true Christianity. And not all Christians are like this. Some actually care about other people. Some truly believe they can make a difference in this world for the Kingdom of Christ. Some Christians follow Jesus and learn to bite their tongue when a biting remark attempts to escape. Some Christians have learned to look beyond the outer shell of people and see that there is something lovable about everybody. Some Christians have exotic and exciting lives living in different countries, traveling to new places, meeting new people everywhere they go - even in the comfort of their own neighborhood in Idaho.

I think that sometimes, as Christians, we encounter people who want nothing to do with Christianity because these people have seen the hypocrisy that lived in the Pharisees and they have experienced pain because some "Christians" openly judged them for their past. I propose that James (3:1-3, 16) is correct when he says that controlling our speech is of the utmost importance. God takes the words we say very seriously because what we say is a direct reflection of our heart (Matt 12:36). When we are not careful, we turn others away from the grace of Jesus Christ. That is sad.

So then we play the blame game and no one steps up to take the blame. Maybe we should go back to the story about the manager with the irate customer. He apologized for the mistakes of his workers even though he personally had nothing to do with the drink that happened to get a little too much white vanilla flavoring in it. I think that's how we should approach our friends, neighbors and colleagues when they express their struggles in regards to religion, in regards to those that have done terrible things "in the name of Jesus". The words, "I'm sorry," coupled with empathy and compassion can go far. We will each stand before God one day and be judged for every action, every word.

I admit that I am not good at this. I really like to say what I am thinking especially when I'm upset. This morning, after thinking about this concept, I got on Facebook and saw something that made my insides burn a little bit. It wasn't even a big deal comment! My first reaction is to say something snotty, you know, something that is biting but covered with the veil of "a joke." Ugh. I was soooo upset with myself in that moment I typed something that was the opposite of what I actually wanted to say! I laugh inside because this is just so silly. I really didn't want to say something nice! But I did, and I suppose it's good that I did. Baby steps, that's what this God thing is. One day at a time. Hopefully one of these days I'll be able to apologize to those who I've been less than Christ-like toward.

By the way, these oh-so-amazing thoughts actually stemmed from the book, "Blue Like Jazz," chapter 12. This book has been phenomenal by the way. It's the first non-religious book about religion that I have seen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Created to be His Help Meet

By Debbi Pearl

It's done! It's done! It's done! As someone who is engaged and never married before, this book was a little out of my league as I couldn't relate to many of the discussions...yet. However I'm sure my time will come.

I fought myself throughout these entire twenty-four chapters. Many times I threw the book down in annoyance vowing to be done with it. But there was something in me that wouldn't let me quit. I'm not sure if it's just my stubbornness telling me not to be a quitter or if God really did want me to see this through.

I wasn't so much frustrated with the concepts of the book, but with the condemning tone. At some points, it was if she was trying to say, "It's this way or the highway." While that may be true (I'm talking about when we look at what God's Word says about an issue), it's God who needs to convict us. The author used some personal experiences, but mostly she used letters written to her and her husband about marriages that were spiraling downward. Although I appreciated the authenticity of real life examples, I would say about 75% of the letters and personal illustrations used were unhappy ones; but maybe that's what this book needs.

The author goes into detail about how, as a wife, I should react and treat my husband in varying situations. I found myself annoyed and disappointed at constantly seeing pain and turmoil within these marriages. Some might say I am now "prepared" for some of the struggles in marriage. But quite frankly, I don't care to be bombarded with how often marriages have problems. Although it's wise to have the information, I also enjoy and appreciate stories that will excite me for marriage. Because of this, I read the surface of the book. Everything written was supported with scripture, however it was from the King James Version. Every "homework assignment" at the end of a chapter was assuming I had a KJV. I do not. So I tended to skip over the verses, because I really just wanted to get a general overview of the what this author had to say.

There is not doubt that much of what is in this book is hard to hear and to personally understand. However I do believe that the author makes clear that this book was written for women. She does not talk about how the men are supposed to be because what matters is what we women do in response to our men. I'm very interested to see what happens in real life when the ideas of this book are put into practice. I imagine that in a few years I will onc again pick this up from my bookshelf and find new meaning within the pages.

I discovered many concepts on how to be a Godly wife. The author discusses the dangers of being "overly spiritual" quite a bit. She also discusses issues such as how do you react when you discover your husband has a porn addiction? What happens when he confesses he cheated? How do you draw the line between obeying your husband and obeying God? Are you supposed to sit back and let him walk all over you or can you take a stand for what you believe is right? One of my favorite chapters was the discussion about the basic three types of men. It was fun learning about all types and figuring out where Jon fit. I aslo enjoyed learning how to love Jon better because of the kind of man he is.

The tone of this book is at times disconcerting, irritating, and contains cut-throat honesty. But I trust the concepts and heart behind the purpose this book. I do not recommend this book to new Christians, maybe not even to new wives because of how often this book left a sour taste in my mouth. However I do recommend reading it at some point and I don't believe there is a place where you are too far along in your marriage to not gain anything from this book. When you do read it I recommend going through it with a partner (not your husband), or a women's Bible study. It seems this book is much easier to get through when you have someone to discuss these concepts with and someone you can compare notes with as you put new ideas into practice.

I hope I didn't scare anyone away from reading "Created To Be His Help Meet." Like every other piece of literature that is not God breathed, this must taken as a grain of salt - although it's up to you how big that grain of salt is! Reading this book has led to deep and interesting conversations with friends as well as my fiance. I am looking forward to reading "Preparing To Be A Help Meet" with a good friend soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Love Letter (It's not what you think!)

Good morning! I hope you are having a wonderful day! I miss you ever moment we are not together. Muaw! I am writing you this now because, well, I am so in love with you! Sometimes, I just don't know what else to do but tell you all the reasons I think you are wonderful. Are you ready?? Hehehe Let's go!

I love the way you kiss me, hold me and make me feel cherished and loved. Each kiss is different and unique. I can almost read your mind when I feel your lips against mine. I sense when you are tired, upset, happy. And then, with every kiss, I get to look into your beautiful eyes. I am so happy I get to spend the rest of my life figuring out the depths of love you hold back there. Your soft eyes already give you away, even more than your kisses do.

There are so many ways you make me feel like a beautiful woman cherished like a sparkling diamond. You do so many things for me. Do I say thank you enough? I hope I do! Every note, every letter, I cherish. Each surprise, big and small, makes me feel soft and squishy inside my chest. I adore the way you take care of me and the kids. You are so careful, always directing us towards right and good decisions.

There is much wisdom and honor inside you that spills into me and will continue to trickle down to the children. You are honest, true and always there for me. Any moment of the day, any time of night, I can call you and you will hear me. Sometimes you may not answer right away, but you hear me and I feel safe in that knowledge.

You are my protector and my prince. I honor you because you are so good. You have all the right answers even when I don't understand them in the moment. I know to trust you above all else. My purpose here on earth is to lift you up with my words, my actions and the praises within my heart. Many times I hold these things back. But now, it's time to let them all out.

I exalt you, praise you, worship you. Above everything else on this earth, you are mine and I am yours. You have seen me through every affliction. I have turned my back on you and been selfish, rude, even downright mean. Still, you chase after my heart because you love me so much. What else can compare to this love?


Well, now I'm stuck. What do I say next? I'm not sure if you've caught on yet, but there is a question on the recipient of this letter. Isn't there? Or is there? Now I know that I am making zero sense.

A few days ago I was writing a love letter to Jon on his V -Day card. Of course it was ultra-long and full of mushy-gooey-ewiness. I started telling him I loved how he takes care of us, his family. I love seeing him be a father. I then started praising him for his intelligence, wisdom and honor. Within in two sentences of passionately exalting him, I stopped. Who the heck was I writing to? I never used the word "praise," "exalt," or "adore." But it's almost like I might as well have. My love letter was almost complete and as I sat with my pen relaxed between my right thumb and fore finger I read through the purple marks I made and stopped when the white space interrupted.

I was stunned at the seemingly new condition of my heart. Was I really in the process of worshipping Jon? Or was I simply worshipping the love we have for each other? Simple, really? Is any of this "simple?" I thought back to my many written prayers in my prayer journal. Each one felt forced, well thought out so it looked good on paper. I guess I thought that with practice, I could feel deep love and adoration for my Creator.

Jon wooed me into this disgusting mushiness we have created together. He brought me flowers, wrote me love letters and cute notes. He creates romantic environments with candle light and sweet songs in my living room. He held me when there were tears and anger that made my body shake. He held my hand when I was scared and comforted me with soft words only I could hear.

But wait, hasn't God already done these things for me? Hasn't he been doing this my whole life? He blesses me every day with sunshine, joy, the sweet taste of chocolate and smell of coffee. He wrote me a love letter full of cute notes. I read it every day - my Bible. He creates romantic environments for me because he wants to hold me and talk with me. But I have learned to ignore his promptings for stillness in my days. I don't allow Him the time to speak to me through my music anymore.

I have felt God's Presence before. My knees were shaking and my stomache was doing flip flops and my heart was full of Godly sorrow. This is how He led me to Him. From that moment on at twelve years old, I've had the Holy Spirit inside me ready to comfort me, soothe me and rejoice with me.

So why aren't I so in love with Him? Will my love for Jon wither away as well? Jon says he will spend the rest of his life wooing me to fall in love with him. God says he does the same thing.

I have a feeling that Jon will always be able to woo me and I will always see it and accept it and love him in return. But I feel that I have also created a habit of ignoring the God that has pursued me since I was born. So what now?

This is an unfinished and ongoing thought process. Thanks for taking the ride with me. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Generation to Generation

I have always struggled with Genesis 19. The two biggest questions I have are 1) How could Lot offer his two daughters to a huge group of sex hungry men? and 2) What is UP with the incest?!

The Bible doesn't judge people for their actions. The Bible reports the events. So there is no way to fully understand why Lot would offer his daughters to a group of sex-crazed men. Because we seem to only get the bare facts of the story, there are a number of reasons Lot could have done this.
First of all, it was custom during that time to protect guests at any cost. By offering his daughters in their place, maybe Lot had an escape plan. Maybe he hoped his daughter's fiancees would come to their rescue. Maybe he thought the men wouldn't be interested in the women because they were homosexuals. However none of these excuses sit well with me as a daughter and as a woman.
Lot and his family were living in a town that was overpowered by sin which is why God sent two angels to destroy the city. Soddom was so despicable it wasn't worth saving. Lot had allowed himself to succumb to the pressures of his culture instead of abiding by the laws of the Lord. So then the question is raised, "How am I allowing the pressures of the world around me depict the decisions I make on a daily basis?" I saw "how" because I am doing it. Many of us are.

Now for the question of incest. Part of me thinks, *Why does this story need to be here? I don't really want to read about two sisters having sex with their father.* But there is a reason. And incest is an issue in today's culture so of course it needed to addressed.
This part of the story is yet another example of how we can let sin in and it changes who we are and what we do. It's sad, but Lot passed on his lack of moral control to his daughters. The daughter's wanted to preserve their father's blood line and they thought sleeping with him was their only option. They weren't driven by lust, they were driven be desperation. Lot should have found his daughter's husbands a long time before this and heck, Abraham's family wasn't that far away.
Once again, this story gives us the facts so understanding why the sisters did this is hard. It also appears as if they went unpunished for their sin. However the two sons that are born are Moab, father of the Moabites of today and Ben-Ammi, father of the Ammonites of today. The Moabites and Ammonites are Israel's greatest enemies. Perhaps this is how God dealt with the sins of the sisters.

There is a cliche, the sins of our fathers are passed down for generations. This is true with abuse, racism etc. It's also true here in the context of this story.

-Abraham found favor in God's eyes and pleaded for Lot's life to be spared when God sent two angels to destroy the city.
-Lot was a weak man who cared more about his power and wealth than following God, yet God spared his life and his daughter's lives.
-Lot's daughters, following in their father's footsteps, acted out in desperation and fear and bore two sons that became the fathers of two enemies of Israel.
-Due to a family connection, Moses was forbidden to attack either of these nations.
-Ruth was a great grandmother of David and an ancestor of Jesus; yet she was a Moabite.

Of course you are free to draw your own conclusions. But I see a pattern which shows God's mercy to us as sinners and how He can make anything into something that will glorify His Kingdom.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Too Busy Not To Pray

by Bill Hybles

This was a very good book and I'm extremely glad Jon suggested I read it. I've struggled with prayer, um, my whole life. Sometimes I'm "good" at it. Sometimes I'm "bad" at it. But what does it mean to be "good" at prayer anyways? Does it mean we should get on a schedule? Same time same place every day? Does it mean we should have a step by step itinerary? Does it mean we should be praying "all the time" because life is so busy we don't have the luxury of being able to sit down for 10 or 15 minutes? This book goes into all these little details and more. But in pieces. Chapters. Bite size pieces.

My goal was to read one chapter a day which meant it should have taken me 15 days to read this. But of course, some days I missed my quiet time and then a few weeks went by when I had just a few chapters left to finish the book. Normally, I would have felt guilty for putting my quiet times on the back burner which then would have caused me to stay even farther away from my quiet times so I wouldn't disappoint myself anymore. Instead, this time I made the decision to sit down and write a prayer. It felt different writing it rather than thinking it, whispering it or saying it out loud. It was short and I felt guilty because I didn't know what to say. I wasn't feeling emotional or extremely passionate about talking to God or writing in general. So I kept it simple and blunt, confessing that I had been a bad friend. I asked for forgiveness not out of guilt but because the only way my heart could begin to open back up was to confess the most obvious wall standing between me and God.

I have learned so much these past few months about the "wrong" and "right" ways to do prayer. I learned there is a right way. And there is a wrong way. If you are struggling in any way with prayer, if you can relate to anything I have just said or you simply have questions in regards to prayer, I highly recommend this book. There are also study questions after each chapter to help you meditate on what you read or to be used in a small group. I hope you get as much out of this book as I did, if not more.

Too Busy Not to Pray is sprinkled heavily with Bible verses that are easily related to the situations presented in the text. Bill Hybels is currently the founder and senior past of Willow Creek Church in South Beach, Illinois. This church has an average attendance of over 17,000 people every week. Their mission statement has much to do with the phrase, "people matter to God." Their mission statement says,

"Willow is committed to carrying on Christ’s mission by reaching out to those who are far from God, coaching those who follow Christ by equipping them for their spiritual journey, and unleashing unprecedented levels of compassion and justice into our broken world."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

God, You Must Do Your Part

I didn't expect the tears. I watched a few tv shows, did some cross stitch, had dessert and a beer or two. The usual routine before bed. On my way upstairs to the bathroom I sometimes like to check on Evan and see how he's doing. Like any other mom, I adore watching him when he sleeps. Tonight, I noticed he had moved a head down from his pillow and his pajama pant legs were rolled up to his knees. I picked up the blanket to cover him fully as he scrunched himself into a tight ball while holding a closed seal around his thumb. I have been finding subtle similarities between Evan and I lately. Tonight, it was in the way he sleeps. That same ball is the one I curl up in over and over again in the night.

I did my bathroom thing and was immediately in bed ready for a night of bliss so I could wake up and see what the weekend would hold. However my heart wasn't quite ready to let go of what was in the room a few feet from mine. It's as if the older he gets, the more I want to hold on. It seems like it was just a few months ago he was a tiny baby in my arms who didn't do much other than poop, sleep and eat (probably in that order). But now he is just about to turn three. His head is so big it seems he can't always control it yet his legs and torso remain closer to the ground and he gets mistaken for a new two year old more often than not. But God has made him sweet. Evan's heart is tender and he can be quite bashful when meeting new people. At other times he's a clown, the life of the party and sometimes downright bossy.

As I was going over all this surrounded by the quiet darkness of my room, my chest began to swell and my eyes burned. I don't want to give him up tomorrow. I hate having to share him. Not to say his dad is a bad guy. He's a very good guy and he loves Evan tremendously. But I wish different things for my firstborn son. I don't know what it's like to have to jump between two families and neither does his dad. Doubling up on everything is all Evan will ever know.

I told Evan tonight, before bed, that I thank God every day for him because God gave him to me. I truly believe that. However Evan is still going to have to live with my past sins for the rest of his life. By this time the tears were flowing freely and I knew I needed to let God in on this. I'm so sad. Selfishly I'm sad for me. But more, I'm sad for him. In that moment I knew God was sharing my pain. He feels it too because Evan is close to his heart as we all are in individual ways. You love him, Lord. And you must take care of him. You have to do your part. I will do the best I can to raise him right. But you have to do your part too.

I know God doesn't need me telling Him what to do. But I had to let it out. I want Evan to be happy and healthy. I don't want him to resent anyone for his upbringing. I vowed when Evan was a baby to raise him with values that follow God. And I will. I do. But the small fear remains. What if he doesn't say yes?