Friday, September 30, 2011

The Thought That Won't Let Go

I'm sitting in near darkness. There is one other in the room, but I don't know her name. I just hear typing and clicking. Silence. Type, type, type. Click. Silence. A sigh. Something has compelled her to stay up late in the only room here that has WiFi. I know something is compelling me.

It is so peaceful here. I should be so pleased to be included in this event. I should be in my room making friends with my roommate or resting so that I can be fresh for the workshop in the morning.

But I just keep hearing it in my head...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Joining A Community

I have been dreading writing this post and I've had a hard time pinpointing why. I think I have come up with an answer. I hope.

Some of my "five loyal readers" might remember at the beginning of the month when I posted that The High Calling was hosting a contest for free registration to their Writers' Retreat. To enter the contest, you had to be a member of The High Calling community. Registration is easy, so I did that. Then you had to write a blog post about why you need to be at that retreat, which I did. They also suggest that one should display The High Calling badge on their blog. Thankfully, I'm proficient enough to make that happen on my blog. I followed the rest of the instructions on sharing my blog post to enter the contest. Voila! I was done.

The contest winner was announced the following day (I had waited until the very last minute to join). The winner - whose name I think is Kathy - is from the same area I live in. I'll have to catch up with her now that I know she exists! Even though I did not win the contest, several lovely people made it possible for me to go to the Writers' Retreat. In fact, I'm leaving in a few hours for the retreat and I am nervous, excited, and nervous. Or is it excited, nervous, and excited? I'm not sure...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 7

Here we are at another Wednesday. Time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. If you are new to this campaign, you can read more about it and find links to all of my Never Beyond posts here.

POTSC is definitely holding our feet to the fire as grace-givers this week. The poster is supposed to encourage discussion about pedophile priests and the scandal that ensued when it was discovered that the Roman Catholic Church had protected rather than punished some of these priests. Have a look at this weeks image:


As a disclaimer, I would like to say that POTSC is not trying to criminalize every member of the Catholic clergy, nor am I. I would urge you to go read the original POTSC blog post on this subject and also to read the discussion that has been taking place there since Sunday. This is a subject that has brought up some hard memories for many and it also has shown that when God asks us to forgive, He never said it would be easy.

God's purpose for my blog has been for me to use my stories to further His purpose. I also am not a researcher or someone who has vast amounts of worldly knowledge. So I am going to have to approach this poster, as with the others, from the viewpoint of what I do know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

God's Mangy Dog Rescue and Obedience Training Program

Saturday I got to spend some time with a friend helping her learn how to set up a blog. Her blog will be vastly different than mine in purpose and audience, but I was able to steer her around some of the newbie pitfalls I've backed into these past few months. (Plus it was just a good excuse to spend time together!)

I thought it was amusing that my friend had asked me for help when I had never intended to be a blogger. My blogging came about through a strange sequence of events that was set in motion by the death of my precious mother. I sometimes wonder if Mama were alive and in her room right down the hall, would I even be in this community with you? Would I know that you were here? We'll never know, but it reminds me that I did not end up sitting in this corner typing because I had always thought that people wanted to read what I have to say.

One of the questions that my friend asked me is, "how did you get people to read your blog?" I explained a little of how I had met my "five loyal readers" and my gracious visitors.  I also told her about something I had just read that said bloggers need to be able to explain their blog succinctly when asked about their writing. Just saying, "I just write about what is going on with me whenever I feel like it" does not usually inspire people to take the time to come to your blog to see what you have to say - not unless they are a good friend or loving relative. Of course, my very organized friend already had a mission statement for her blog, so I was not worried that she could "sell it" to readers. However, it did make me wonder if I could tell you what I'm doing here on my little patch of internet real estate.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's Not An Event - It's A Process

What was I thinking? Really - what was I thinking? Did I expect that I would just tell my truth and then everything would be all better? We all came together as a community for Tamara's project and it was so awesome to know we weren't alone. But...

But the Father of Lies...he was not happy with us trying to walk down the path of healing together...or at least he sure didn't want me on that path... So in the midst of trying to heal and hear God's voice, I end up in the middle of spiritual warfare. This is what makes me not want to tell my truth sometimes. I know - I know - that the attack is going to come. The lies are going to start pouring into my head. And I think, maybe if I sit really still and don't say anything, he will leave me alone. He might, you know. But then I will have been immobilized. Isn't that what the enemy wants?

As I read the essays in the Community Collection, the little voices started. "You thought you told your truth, Carolyn? Well what about..." "Did you forget exactly how soiled you really are? What do you think this will accomplish?" Faces started to flash in my mind. Faces of ones I had tried to forget. Faces of the ones that I still try to protect and say that it was all my fault. Faces of the ones who are Facebook friends so I stay silent for fear of an attack. It's so easy to tell myself that since I had a part in it that I should just take the full blame. I gave away my innocence and gained culpability. It's so easy to believe the lies.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

God Loves Me

Okay, so that last post about "What is a girl worth?" was hard to write. The contributions from other bloggers to the project were hard to read. The whole thing caused more emotional upheaval in me than I had prepared for and I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed. I'll talk more about that in another post today or tomorrow.

Right now, I think I just need to get back on an even keel. One way I do that is to spend time with God. Yes, you say, read your Bible, Carolyn. Get down on your knees and pray. I admit those are good ideas and I shall put them to use. However, when I say I need to spend time with God after an emotional upheaval, I usually mean that I need to spend time appreciating God's sense of humor. Humor manufactured by humans can sometimes be hurtful, but humor from God brings forth healing laughter.

So what humorous thing has God done that will help me get out of this particular funk?

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Is A Girl Worth?

So my new friend Tamara asked in a blog post the other day, “What is a girl worth?” I think the essay merits the effort for you to run over there and read it right quick. Now Tamara is asking her blogging friends to write their own posts in response to her questions, What’s a girl [or woman] worth? and/or Have you ever struggled to believe what you’re worth when God and the world disagree?

As to the worth of any female, I could preach a right fine sermon on the worth of any child of God and how we should all treat each other as treasures. In fact, I published a post this week on how we should not treat each other in ways that would make one feel small. I could quote Bible verses and psychology texts about how women/girls should be valued.

But does my life look like I believe it?

Five Minute Friday - Growing



We write for five minutes flat on Fridays.


We write bold and beautiful and free. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Go a little overboard encouraging the writer who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Growing…



Oh, I so did not want to write on this. I saw "growing" and I just about opted out of today's link party. Then the negatives came to my mind: my waist and hips are GROWING. My debt is GROWING. I just... *sigh*

There have been other things that denote growing. Brother Dave, one of my spiritual advisors who has known me for years, reads my blog and says that he sees me growing. And its about time, too. The bratty little mess I was when I met Brother Dave and his family needed to grow - upward and onward.

It's just that the type of growing that is happening to me right now is not the fun or comfortable type of growing. It's not like I'm discovering new crafting skills or learning how to cook (Hubby, read = not going to happen). I'm growing spiritually and emotionally and there are growing pains that come with that. Have I mentioned that I have diagnosed myself as being allergic to all kinds of pain? That includes growing pains.

I think I've missed a little of the point of Five Minute Fridays today. I've been backspacing and editing. Trying to avoid what I'm really thinking. But this is what I've got today.

STOP


Come join me over at the Gypsy Mama. Link up your own post or just see what five minutes looked like for others. (they probably won't be as negative as I'm feeling about the subject matter today!)


Today is also a rare occasion that I am posting twice. I have joined a special writing project called "What We’re Worth: A Community Collection". You can view my contribution to the project here and you can read about the project here.  At the bottom of that post is a link you can follow to find all of the community essays on this subject. Please go visit. And if you can, leave some comments on the posts you read. It will be nice for the people who made themselves vulnerable to get a little love.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 6

Here we are at another Wednesday. Time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. If you are new to this campaign, you can read more about it and find links to all of my Never Beyond posts here.

The new poster has presented an interesting challenge for me. This week’s miscreant is Mel Gibson: actor, director, alcoholic, racist-ranter, Catholic divorcee, and girlfriend-beater. There might be roles that I left off that list, but I think we have sufficient discussion material here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Genshai

Last year, Hubby and I went to a conference in San Antonio. I think we spent more time looking through all of the vendor booths than we did listening to conference speakers (oops). I don't remember why Charles ended up at the booth of this author and I didn't (I was probably exclaiming over some "pretties"), but my husband came back with two of the very same book. I thought that on our budget that was a little excessive. Turns out the guy was either giving them away or nearly giving them away. Suspiciously I wondered why he didn't value them more than that (not in my most generous frame of mind at that time). Charles was excited though. He had had a great conversation with the author and both books were autographed. We tossed them into the tote bag and kept on shopping.

When we got back to the hotel, I remember reading the beginning of the book and thinking, "hey, that is a great idea". It even made me feel somewhat generous towards my fellow human beings. After we got back home, my copy got lost in my endless stacks of "to read" books and I have no idea what Charles did with his. His "to read" stacks are often mixed in with everything from bottle tops to power tools, so I'm never sure what is going on there.

Tonight as I was reaching for a different book, I saw Charles' copy (mine is still buried where he could not have found it). Evidently he has decided to work through more of it - or at least the dog-eared page is farther back now. So I picked it up to flip through it again, wondering what it was that had made me think we needed to finish it. And I came across the passage that caught my attention before.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Please No

Luke 3

16John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”



Hebrews 12

 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Oh Lord, my Father God... Word who spoke me into being... Abba...

Please... no... this baptism of fire burns so hot... I know the chaff is there, but the threshing, Lord, is so painful... you have asked me to stay accountable before these witnesses and I am here... You have asked me to throw off the sin that easily entangles... but it is hard to throw off something that you are entangled in... I'm already weary and losing heart... please no, Father... can't we leave this one thing alone? Oh please... It hurts to think about it... the Light You are shining on it hurts my eyes... and the shame...how do you scorn shame that is attached to you like a second skin? Jesus, I cannot endure as You have endured... oh Father, please no...

This is my heart this Monday morning. When God asked me to stay accountable by writing, it never occurred to me what things He was going to hold me accountable for, whether I wrote about them or not... we have reached a stronghold that I cannot even bring my eyes to look at... it might not be the worst anyone has ever faced, but it is mine and...

About a week before Mama died, the rehab facility called and told us to meet her at the Emergency Room. They didn't really say what was wrong. They just said hurry. When we got to the little room in the ER where she was, we were met with the sounds of pure anguish. Mama was clutching her side and crying out, "No, no, no... it hurts...it hurts..." The medical staff could not get her coherent enough to say what hurt or where exactly. Daddy and I sat there and just listened to Mama cry out in a voice that we had never heard, "no, no... it hurts...it hurts..." The call had come in at bedtime and we were there at the ER until dawn. There were times of reprieve when they got enough morphine into Mama to calm her down. But it never lasted long enough and she would start crying out again, "no, no, no... it hurts...it hurts".

Even though Mama talked to us a few more times that week before she slipped into unconsciousness for the final time, she was never able to tell us what that episode was all about. Right now the soundtrack in my head is her voice, becoming my own, crying out, "no, no, no... it hurts...it hurts..." And I don't want to talk about what is causing it. Yet He is chasing me... He puts the little reminders everywhere...

All I can ask Him is, "please no..."

Have you prayed that prayer before? Is it just me?



Linking with Jen at Finding Heaven and the rest of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.
(click on photo to go check it out)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cool Quote of the Day

Today you actually get two quotes! I'm pondering them...


Steadfastness in believing doth not exclude all temptations from without. When we say a tree is firmly rooted, we do not say the wind never blows upon it. -- John Owen

Do not desire crosses, unless you have borne well those laid on you; it is an abuse to long after martyrdom while unable to bear an insult patiently. -- Fran├žois de Sales

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Choosing Joy - So Unlike Me

Well, let's get the complaining out of the way so we can go ahead and get to the point (we will have a point that is much better than complaining).

This week has been hard. That's the only way to describe it. Why, you ask? (I always enjoy imagining that you are asking the questions I want to answer)

Well, let's see...

We helped a good friend deal with the 1 year anniversary of her husband's death (this past year has been hellish for her). The next day was the 6-month anniversary of Mom's passing and I just sank - knowing that more time would continue to get between me and the last time I hugged her and not knowing how much time is ahead before I see her again. I found out about a truly tragic death of a young person in one part of my family. I found out that somebody who was a big part of my growing up in Christ has advanced colon cancer with a fatal prognosis. Charles and I took a hard hit to our marriage (we'll be fine - we have support and a plan). God decided that this was the week to rip the cover off the last huge sin stronghold in my life - the one thing I thought I could continue to hide. Last night I found out that an aunt (in another branch of my family that had a sudden death a few weeks ago) had two strokes (at quite a young age) and I don't know how she is doing. Drama and hurt continues with some other family members and I am powerless to do anything to stop it.

*sigh*

It sometimes seems like too much to take in. I know I don't have it the worst, but having had a melancholy personality since I was tiny, it sometimes seems like it is my lot in life to mourn. The Bible describes the Messiah as being a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53). I always thought that meant He was melancholy like me. I'm beginning to question that now. I'm beginning to see that it might be possible for life to heap sorrows upon you without a you having to be melancholy or outright depressed.

What would cause me to question something that is pretty much foundation for my life?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Joy


Today's Five Minute Friday is a little bit different than the usual. It is special because the group of friends that gathers over at the Gypsy Mama for FMF is getting ready to send a good friend back to the Lord. Her body is failing her, but her spirit is so ready to join Jesus. And we are happy for that. Please, please go over and read a little bit about Sara. She is an amazing person who has filled many people's lives with joy.

So here's how it goes:



    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Go a little overboard encouraging the writer who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Joy…


(gratuitous pic of my nephew who brings me joy!)


Start:


The first thing that comes to my mind right now are all the different songs that have the line "The joy of the Lord is my strength" in them. One is rattling around in my head right this minute. What a beautiful thing to have guiding me in the wee-small hours of a morning. 


I think how lucky I am that I am finding community (most of it online right now, but God will take care of the "in person" too) that understand the joy of going home to the Father. How happy I was six months ago when Mama passed away that she got to be with her Savior. A little jealous - I'm longing for heaven too, but it's not my turn. 


Another memory that just came to me was riding on the "Joy Bus" when I was little. We would go pick up kids whose parents where not going to take them to church. We fed them doughnuts and milk. And we sang all the way. The song I remember singing most on the Joy Bus went, "love is something if you give it away - you end up having more". Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making sure I had those memories and an upbringing in the Lord.


Joy is something deep that comes from the Lord. I wish I remembered more often to hook into it instead of getting all caught up in worldly cares. I'm going to have to take Sara's advice and "choose joy". She will live on in  many people that way.


STOP


So that is my five minutes. Won't you please join us over at the Gypsy Mama? There will many five-minute posts to read  about joy. What a wonderful subject to start the weekend with!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 5

Here we are at another Wednesday. Time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. If you are new to this campaign, you can read more about it and find links to all of my Never Beyond posts here.

What you are about to experience is not my finest hour in the Never Beyond campaign, but it is the complete truth about where I am at in this process. It is all I have to offer here.

In a move that I'm absolutely sure was designed to get on my last ever-lovin', grace-givin' nerve (because it is all about ME, isn't it?) POTSC chose the KKK to be on this week's poster. Yep, you read that right - the Ku Klux Klan, the cross-burning, sheet-wearing, white supremacists. Here is our lovely image of the week:


The picture alone almost makes me want to run in the other direction. Or walk up and snatch the hood off of whoever that might be. I don't usually have mild reactions when I think about the KKK.

I'm sure you are just waiting for me to tell you how I really feel, aren't you? Yep. Thought so.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The State of My Heart


I wrote this in the middle of the night, but I saved it for publishing so that I could link up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood. After you read my post, please go over there and visit. See what the other sisters have to offer!

As I was getting ready for this week, I decided to change purses, which of course means lots of rearranging (for me, anyway). Hubby walked in the room and said that he thought all women should only have one purse. What a disappointment. I thought I trained him better than that!

Anyway... I found something that needed to go in my wallet. I tried shoving it in the slots on the right side, but those had too many credit cards, loyalty cards, insurance cards, etc. So I put it in a one of the slots on the left. I caught a glimpse of my organ donor card while doing that, and evidently that planted a seed for the thoughts occupying my mind during my current bought of insomnia.

I know I've mentioned before that I am not the healthiest person around. That being said, I still have filled out an organ donor card and let my family know my wishes. On the chance that when I die I still possess an organ that could be of benefit to a very sick person, I want to share. Knowing people who have received the amazing gift of transplants inspires me to make sure that my donor information stays updated.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Kind of Anniversary I Don't Like To Celebrate - 9/11

I cannot re-type it one more time where I was that day - that awful day - ten years ago. I don't want to copy and paste it from other times either. But there are memories and thoughts bombarding my mind anyway...

I close my eyes and I see that second plane... having already heard about the first and not expecting more...

I think of the type of warfare that went to the Pentagon that day to those who are used to taking war elsewhere...

And those people on the fourth flight. Where did they find the resolve? Did they feel Him with them on that plane?

A man on the ground in New York - trying to get people off the street before the Towers fall - not knowing that his sister and niece had been on one of the planes that were used as missiles...

The Muslim man working in the restaurant atop the Tower - killed by people using his religion as an excuse, with his wife two days away from birthing their second child, a son!

There is nothing I can add to this discussion. Mine is not a unique memory. I was safe, although I can recite for you some very good reasons why the city I lived in at the time would have made a great target.

The sadness does not really lessen, does it? I just try to rearrange it inside my heart to fit with everything else crowded in there...

Is this what it feels like every day for people who live where war is all around them? The people who grew up with the sound of gunfire as a personal soundtrack? How do they fit that in their heart?

We all have songs that remind us of those feelings... the mourning, the helplessness... this is just one of mine...




Saturday, September 10, 2011

One Other Thought...

Charles, what I said in the last post about loving you was important. Just in case something else stupid threatens us, remind me of this...


Forever your girl,

I Promise I Loved You

Yesterday, Seth Haines challenged us to protect our marriages by declaring the truth so that we could not tell a lie later. Go read the post and the comments here. Amazing stuff and a more than worthy cause. So I'm not going to tell my whole marriage story here - my posts are already long enough without all of those details - but I am going to make a declaration of love. A declaration that will prove me wrong if I ever get dumb enough to try and tell Charles that I never loved him.

Charles, I promise I loved you.



I took Mom to see Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. How shameful was it that I, a member of the Church of Christ, had made it into my mid-30s without getting married and having children? I told Mom, "I will be a corpse before I am a bride." She laughed and loved me anyway. Neither one of us had imagined God would bring you to us.

I was just trying to get to the back door of the building we worked in. I had to pass your office. You looked up and smiled at me. God said, "this man". Well, He and I had quite a talk as I kept on walking. And for two months after that, probably. I was angry. I wanted to be the one who got to choose, not God. Let's skip all of the reasons you weren't who/what I had imagined. I told God I wanted to choose. He laughed at me. Seriously, God laughed at me. He said, "have you seen how well your choosing has worked out lately?". Fine.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Five Minute Friday - In Real Life




    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Go a little overboard encouraging the writer who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

in real life…


Go!

So today's prompt is "in real life". If you go to the Gypsy Mama's page (click link above), you will get details about a way for us girls to link up in real life next April. It sounds fun and I think I will probably participate in some way.

In real life... so I did not win the free trip to the Writers' Retreat at Laity Lodge. But thanks to some gracious people, I will still be able to go. So, "in real life", I am going to get to meet some amazing Christian bloggers, book authors, editors, publishers, some beginners like me (hopefully) and be part of a community. And that is something I crave: community. I've been locked away too long in the little corner of this room with depression (ongoing struggle) and grief (since we lost Mom in March). I need to get out and meet other people who are interested in doing the same thing that I have evidently developed a passion for. I'm looking forward to meeting all of these people and maybe even getting some hugs.

In real life, I would also like to meet some new online friends of mine. There are only a few of us (5? 6?), but we have developed such a camaraderie. It also really feels like we do "church" together online. We are all seeking Jesus and we talk about how we find Him in our lives. We share some worship too. So I'm holding out that God will give us the opportunity to meet in real life and love on each other even more than we do online.

So that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Stop.

Now let's go see what other people who are linking up at the Gypsy Mama have to say in five minutes!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cool Quote of the Day

There is a big difference between mishearing and hearing only what we want to hear, right? We, the people of God, seem to have chronic 'itching ears,' and we can usually find somebody to scratch till we say 'Aaahh' (2 Tim. 4:3). Given the option, we will usually choose bigger barns to serve ourselves over bigger hearts to serve others (Luke 12:13-21).     -- Scotty Smith

********
I think I had a half-formed thought for a blog post in my head. Then I saw this quote in my inbox (I get them from Quotemeal here) and Mr. Smith just kinda slapped me upside the head there. Whatever half-formed thought I head went flying out the other ear.

So let's not put lipstick on this pig before we shove it out in the spotlight. Let's get to the heart of it: I'm selfish, self-centered, and self-seeking. I have been choosing bigger barns to serve myself for years. That doesn't mean I have never served others. But I have never sought a bigger heart over a bigger barn - not really. And I have rarely, if ever, sacrificed for somebody else's need. I might have delayed my gratification momentarily, but that is not the same thing as sacrifice.

Since we started sponsoring Kimenyi (see story here) a few months ago, I have thought from time to time, "how will I explain this to him? How will I explain all of my want and my waste to this little boy and his family?" Have I even started seeking a bigger barn in order to share with him? I doubt it.

If you ever feel the need to pray for me (and I know one or two of my five loyal readers do actually pray for me regularly), pray for my heart in this. Pray for my willingness in this. My barn is more than big enough. I need a bigger heart.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 4

Our good friends over at People of the Second Chance did not put out a "Never Beyond" poster this week. They took the Labor Day holiday off, as they should have. However, that did not stop God from pushing me towards giving second chances. Nope. God had some "villains" all lined up for me.

In case you haven't heard, a huge portion of Central Texas is either on fire now or has been on fire recently. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Evacuation orders are in place. And there is no rain. Oh Gracious God, please bring rain.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Going to a Writers' Retreat

The first time I heard about The High Calling, I was listening to talk radio on an AM station in Corpus Christi, TX. I heard the warm voice of a man - I found out it was Howard E. Butt, Jr. - telling stories in little clips about living well. I sat up a little straighter in my seat while driving each time I heard his voice after that. Growing up in south Texas, you learn to listen when somebody with that name speaks. I grew up going to the Butt family's groceries stores - H.E.B. - and still shop there today. They have a history of success and community involvement, so I appreciate their input. I always meant to go to the website to see what Mr. Butt was talking about, but by the time I got out of the car, I would forget. Sure did love those radio spots, though.

Today, through a link to a link to a link (you know how that goes, right?), I found out that today is the last day of a contest that The High Calling is having a contest (look here) to send one person to their Writers' Retreat at the end of September. This is not just any ol' retreat, my friends. According to the website, "This year’s Laity Lodge Writer’s Retreat instructors are each experts in their field. Greg Wolfe edits Image Journal. Jeffrey Overstreet has won two Christy Awards for his fiction. Julia Kasdorf was awarded a 2009 NEA fellowship for poetry. And that is just a taste of what you can expect. Several editors from Christianity Today will also be at the retreat, as well as TheHighCalling.org editors and others." So for a beginner like me, this would be hitting the jackpot right at the start of my journey.

A Secondary Introduction

Central Texas seems to be on fire (several spots going and several spots that just got under control), and it is hard for me to concentrate on composing a post right now, so I'm going to use some material that is not completely new here.

A few weeks ago, a blogger whose site I comment on sometimes asked his commenters to introduce ourselves. He laid out a series of questions for us and then let it rip. I posted a near-thesis-sized response, as usual. It occurs to me that some of my five loyal readers might not even know these things. You've all spent some quality time with my spiritual struggles over mercy, forgiveness, and second chances. So it seems fair that you know some of the external details that make up "me".

Here is pretty much what I posted over at Charlie's site:

I was born in Lubbock, TX and raised in the Corpus Christi, TX area. I spent a semester of college at Worcester State College in Massachusetts, then back to the junior college in Corpus Christi. Dropped out and messed around for awhile. Got sober (celebrated 18 years July 2011) and went back to the JC. Transferred to Southwest Texas State (now just Texas State). Spent a year learning social work from atheists. Transferred as a senior to Lubbock Christian University (didn’t lose any credits) and spent a year learning social work from Christians. Going to both schools gave me a very interesting perspective on my profession. Wouldn’t trade that.
As a social worker, I have worked in HIV/AIDS, Early Childhood Intervention, public housing, and Information & Referral. I now push paper (or bytes) for contracts with the State of Texas. Would like to go back to the front line but can’t afford the pay cut.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bloody Shards & Willie Nelson's Mini-Me

When was the last time you went to a Bar-B-Q or other gathering where there were games played? Tug-of-war, three-legged race, sack race, or maybe a soft-pitch baseball game. I love watching these games, but I am not the one you want to pick for a participant (unless you are putting me on the opposite team - that's a good move). I make for a very enthusiastic spectator, but my lack of coordination and strength just don't lend themselves to success in physical competitions. Which is fine by me - I got over not being athletic many years ago and got better at yelling at the television when my football team runs when they should throw!

There is, however, an endeavor where my strength - emotionally and mentally - put me into Pro-Am competitions when I was fairly young: Holding On To Things I Need To Let Go Of. Imagine that! A sport that's name ends in a preposition. My friend Krista would be so proud (not)! For the sake of my poor typing fingers, let's just call it Holding On (I won't abbreviate it to HO so that we can stay family friendly here).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Rest


This is too funny. It is Five Minute Friday over at The Gypsy Mama. The topic is "rest". And I'm too mentally, emotionally, and physically tired to compose even 5 minutes worth of coherent thought and typing. So instead I'm going to link you to a song on YouTube. No video to watch. Just listen to the words. "Lead Me To Rest" by Acappella.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Never Beyond: Is This Working For Me?

"I consider myself to be a deeply flawed person, and I identify with those whose character flaws have led them into grave troubles, whose momentary impulses have caused lasting harm."
- Cary Tennis

I really like that quote, even though Cary Tennis and I don't really share the same politics or ideas about life. He is more liberal than I probably will ever be. I don't recall him saying anything that leads me to believe he is a Christian of any flavor (but I cannot prove that). I do like to read his advice column, Since You Asked, though. Cary and I have shared some of the same life experiences. More important than that, he is very articulate and well-thought-out in his writings. He understands many things about the human condition. If he doesn't know something, he will say so. He understands something about grace and second chances. More than I do, I'm pretty sure.

Some of you know that I have been working on the Never Beyond Poster Series with People of the Second Chance. If you are unfamiliar with the project, you can get more info by clicking here. I really don't know what I expected when I agreed to participate in this project. I'm sure, since I was new to POTSC and still in my "honeymoon phase", that I thought it would be some nice, warm, fuzzy feel-good experience. I did not stop for one second to think how I would be personally challenged by this project. I felt God pushing me towards it and for once I didn't stop to try to negotiate. I'm not saying that following God's leading by jumping out in faith is bad. But stop and think about some of the places He has taken you when you've done that. Those types of growing experiences were not on my current to-do list when this project came along.

I also forgot to do the math when they said 25 posters at 1 per week. Six months. That is six months. I can't even commit myself to a 10-week Beth Moore Bible study (granted, the Bible study requires me to show up somewhere other than home and the POTSC project can be done alone, in the dark of the night, in my bedroom), and yet I jumped in feet-first to a project that will take six months of my effort. Do you know that I am a quitter? Or "non-finisher", if you want to be all touchy-feely about it. Do you know that I turn around when I see a mountain in my way, only to find out MUCH later that it wasn't a mountain at all - it was a speed bump that I had amplified in my mind without investigating it.