Monday, December 7, 2009

All You Need Is Love

No matter who you are, no matter where you go, there will be people that you don't like, there will be people who drive you crazy, there will even be people so toxic to you that being in the same building just brings out the worst in you. Magazines and self-help books tell you to stay away from those people as much as you can because they will just bring you down. And, to a point, that's true. There is little good in trying to save a drowning person if you are sinking under yourself. So, 'use discretion' is the lesson there. Beyond that though, I've been reminded very recently that all everyone is really looking for, when you boil all the smoke and mirrors down, is love. Love might look different to me than you but love - acceptance, safety, attention - is where everyone starts. When that need is neglected, regardless of the reasons why and who is to blame, many of life's problems start. The reactions, the coping, the defense mechanisms, all come about eventually because of that desire for love was somehow rejected.

I'm not quite sure what all that means really but I do feel like it should change our perspective of people. If you're in the business of blaming or excusing others, this probably doesn't help much. But, if you ultimately want to live peacefully with others, grow and help others do the same, remembering that we all essentially want the same thing could have a big impact.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Household Update

"Just the facts m'am."

Sometimes I use too many words to get simple points across. And other times, I get lost in those words and fail to express critical points. So, as an exercise in conciseness and to keep you in the loop with our goings on, here is the Butler household update:

Randy is acclimating to his job very well, satisfied with the variation, hopeful for the future and loving the perks of a government post.

I am busy with piano lessons, housewife duties, and various extra curricular activities. Most importantly in my personal life, I have gained much ground in eliminating fear from my heart.

Lizzie & Grace got out a few weeks ago and evidently took a stroll around the neighborhood, but came back. Our neighbor reported them racing around but not bothering anyone. Overall, they are embracing adulthood with ease and exuberance.

A few goals we have for the next few months:
I'm working on losing some more weight before facing parenthood. 7 1/2 pounds so far!
We are looking to buy a car, probably in February. I believe we've decided on an older CR-V so we can cart dogs as well as future children around.
Fix the dishwasher - I've been a successful dishwasher for the past few months and its really not that bad but I wouldn't mind a little extra time.

Growth is the worth the effort. Never let society, laziness or discomfort to convince you to give up on it. We are capable of so much more than we usually think!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call Me Irresponsible

I have made a lot of decisions in my life and many of them were made for the wrong reasons. Fear has always been a better motivator to me than anything else and that is evident by the string of paths I quit just shy of completing. That fact was the inspiration for the title of this blog. The quote underneath it is a reminder for me that even though I have much regret about all of that, the reason I quit to begin with was me not knowing how to grow. To me, having a yard full of mistakes is okay if I'm heading in the direction of growth.

The simplest projects or decisions can be ambushed by the past before you even realize it. Shame from just not being farther in life has stopped me from pursuing friendships or taking advantage of opportunities when offered to me. The regret and discomfort of what I didn't accomplish or how I ran from difficult things seemed to push me back into my chair, convincing me that four walls were safer than facing the past. It turns out, the past doesn't usually need to be faced, but just let go of. I hope you haven't been holding on to old demons for as long as I have, but if you have, trust me when I tell you how good it feels to flush them down the toilet and move on with my life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Do you ever look back on your day and think you may have been a little over-dramatic?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Something Worth Celebrating

Feelings are fickle and time is one of the only things that can truly test them for validity. And even then, feelings should never get the final say when there's plenty of other evidence available to the contrary. Still, when feelings work in your favor, it can be amazing. I guess that's why they control more than their share sometimes. This morning I watched the above video of Michael Buble's latest hit, "Haven't Met You Yet" and it made me cry a little, in the best way possible. If you haven't seen the video yet, watch it. Its worth it. The reason I cried is because most everything to song says, was true in my life. For a while there, I made some stupid decisions, seemed to crash into everything (literally and figuratively) and continually felt like everything was a mess. It was a mess of my own making, sure, but it seemed hopeless and ridiculous. Meeting Randy seemed like an insignificant event to begin with, but looking back now really did start a change in my life that is still bearing more fruit daily. The video is silly but so true to the heart when it takes an ordinary trip to the grocery store and showcases our dreams of someone, complete with a celebration upon finding them.

In my 3 short years of marriage, I can attest that somedays its not easy, its not fair and its not pretty. But somedays its everything you ever dreamed. Somedays, like today, I feel like marching down the aisle of a supermarket with a band, confetti and dancers - all celebrating that because of God's blessing in Randy, I am changing, growing, and far more than I ever thought I could be. Sorry its so mushy, but truth be told God has taught me so many lessons through Randy and boy life is good. And Michael Buble does an awesome job at pulling those heart strings too! :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Closing the Loop - Project Feedback

Last year about this time, I made up my mind we were going to have a garden this summer. And we did. Now that its about time to start clearing everything out, I'm taking some advice from husband and reflecting on how things went. It seems unnecessary at first, to give yourself feedback, but without it I will most definitely charge in again blind, hoping for the best. This way, I will stop and think about what worked and what didn't and how I should improve in the future. So, here we go.

The premise of last year was really an anything goes attitude. I was going to dive right in, trying whatever I wanted, ready to accept the mistakes and beginner ignorance. So, because I felt like it, I planted things pretty much wherever I felt like it, mix and match, with only a little attention to the needs of the plant once growing. This worked out about half the time.

Things that went well:
-We had lots of lettuce and spinach that tasted great! Next year I'm going to start a little bit earlier (inside if I have to) so that I can replant hopefully after the first round finishes.
-Without even trying we had close to 50 tomato plants of all kinds (cherry, grape, roma, etc) that are still producing delicious fruit. I guess I threw out some old tomatoes onto the soil before we had a compost pile that settled in and sprang forth plentifully! They seriously took over EVERYTHING! But, tomatoes are something we eat continually so no complaints here! :)
-Our blackberry bush produced more fruit than ever (still not much) so I'm hopeful for next year!
-We have some great anaheim peppers still producing. They started late though b/c of tomato takeover. Next year I'll definitely give them more space.
-Our okra turned into trees! We have some good looking plants. I just planted them late and not very many. Start early and plant plenty.
-The corn was the same as okra. Needed to plant earlier, more of it and with more space.

Things that didn't go well, at all:
-In sheer stupidity, I planted watermelon plants EVERYWHERE it felt like. They grew and grew and started producing melons like crazy. It was beautiful but overwhelming to all the plants around them. So, definitely designate a spot just for vine plants. Then the squash bugs hit. And KILLED ALL OF THEM! So frustrating but now we know that we have to spray from the get go and never let up. Lesson learned.
-Carrots grew and grew and we had plenty of them. But they never tasted any good. Always bitter. Worked out for the horses down the street since they ate most of them! :) Any idea how to get carrots to taste good? I'll have to study up on that one.
-Cucumber, Pumpkin and Cantaloupe did the same as the watermelon only I had less of them and they didn't live as long or produce as much. Biggest problem was not enough space and the squash bugs.

For a first timer and a detail hater at that, I'm satisfied with the experience overall. I'm hoping to get Randy to build me another bed for vine plants in the next couple of months. And very soon I'm going to start planning for next summer's produce and maybe some landscaping back there too. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and don't want to think about any of it, but I've figured out what really helps me. I don't ever have to think about all of it. I give myself permission to just think about a little bit - baby steps is how anything is done!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Growing to Victory

You know what I just love? I love having the chance to start over, reinvent myself, change the room around, find a new way to organize something, do it a different way. And what I love just as much as that - talking about it. Anything that involves growth of some kind is worth spending my time for.
In my naivety, I used to believe that everyone really wanted to grow and so me trying to help them grow should always be welcomed. Never mind that I could burst into tears if someone so much as told me I had something in my teeth. Hypocritical a bit, yes. Still, underneath the fragile self-esteem, the deep desire for growth and change towards something better was always there. To this day, that desire propels my need for authenticity and truth. Buying store bought when I can make it from scratch makes my skin crawl a little. I'd rather you not talk to me at all than ask me a question you don't honestly want the answer to (How are you today?). To me that sentiment drives growth. Few things grow without any effort. And no person can achieve a higher level of anything (organization, clarity, intimacy), without putting a genuine, whole-hearted effort into it. That's where the really hard part comes. In my experience, even when you are bound and determined to give it a big go this time, that doesn't mean that everyone around you will join in, understand or even say good for you! Just when you are convinced those around you might start mocking your productivity or enthusiasm. In the past that just about destroyed me. How could I march on to victory without anyone with me? Turns out, sometimes that's that best way to get where you want to go. And the victory, when won by your singular effort (with God's blessing of course), is that much sweeter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some Things I Find Helpful

I guess you could call this a 'What Works For Me' post because lately there have been some resources that I've been utilizing and loving and I thought I'd share.

First of all, Focus on the Family in and of itself is a HUGE resource. If you're not familiar with James Dobson, google him. He's written many really good books on family/parenting issues as well as the founder (I believe) of Focus on the Family. 95% of what I have heard him speak I typically agree with (morally, biblically, etc.) and he's an enjoyable speaker/writer. FOTF has a couple of podcasts that I download on iTunes for free and listen to on my ipod while I walk. They are such an encouragement to me as well as a good teacher. There is a podcast for marriage and one for parenting as well as an entire broadcast section of their website where you can find much more. They also have several newsletters that you can receive (email or paper) for free that focus on different age groups/issues (Parenting, Family, Marriage, Singles, Homosexual Issues, etc). And last but not least, they have an entire website devoted to reviews of tv, movies, games, etc. called Plugged In Online and do an awesome job, I think.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Start Now. Right There.

Ever since we returned from vacation last week, the weather has been nice enough to turn off the A/C and open the windows. For whatever reason, the wind hasn't been high enough to sound my wind chime on the front porch, at least not where I could hear it in my bedroom. Last night as I crawled into bed, for the first time in a long while I heard a tinkling of sound that flooded my mind with memories. After Randy and I first got married, I had yet to really begin and certainly finish my thesis for graduate school. So, through the fall and winter I battled with myself to buckle down and get things finished, all to the background music of my tinkling wind chime. Do you ever think of a day long past and then reflect on all the time that was spent (doing or not doing) on various things that didn't have to be? If I had started that project on that day, wouldn't I be finished by now? Or at least a whole lot further? Whereas now I have still yet to begin.

Next year, and only just (my birthday is Jan. 9), I will turn 30 and I guess its time to admit that I have learned a few things and made some life lesson mistakes in the last 3 decades. It seems like we put off the time when we can be considered someone to learn from, don't we? Well, I still live at home, or I'm not married yet or I don't have kids yet, etc., so I don't know as much as everyone else. I'm pretty sure that is some societal influence that doesn't hold much water. Sure, as you get older you learn more. That doesn't mean that there is nothing to be gained or learned in listening to someone who hasn't lived and done exactly what you have or more. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, I have always longed for having everything 'together' before the next big thing. A fantasy of mine is to be completely organized before the next holiday, season, or chapter. Of course, that's silly. If you don't know that that is silly, consider it. You might grow by leaps and bounds overnight by accepting that fact. I think I did. I still want to clean my house before I really dive into anything else, but I've accepted the fact that I usually can't. Doesn't mean I don't clean my house, just means the world doesn't go on hold for my preference. What has been happening though is more things are getting done. Not sure if it was the 6 months of Lay-off Lessons or what, but ever since we returned from vacation I have been able to accomplish so much more than I have ever in my life. Seriously. I'm teaching piano and voice lessons. My house is consistently cleanER. I'm cooking more. I'm marking things off the list. I even cleaned out my inbox. Mostly its that I've gotten past the concept of 'I have to do this before I can do everything else'. Instead I just dive in where I'm at and get a whole lot more done because I'm not sitting around waiting for the perfect moment, circumstance or mood. And that makes me happy. Sort of like a personal goal or accomplishment that I never thought would be possible.

Of course, children change every routine ever created when they crash into the world, but the way I see it, the sooner I can accept that I just have to begin where I'm at, the easier transitioning to living with 'life changers' will be.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where did Summer go?

There has been commotion around our house, but definitely the good kind. And with all of it, a realization made its way to my husband's lips that made me chuckle. "Do you realize we missed Summer?" We haven't exactly been on a deserted island for 3 months while life carried on on the main land. It's more like we were grounded to the living room and the other kids got to play outside while we watched from the window. With Randy's layoff, everything just went on hold and was being reserved for later. Not a deprived life by far. Just not what we had grown accustomed to. All in all though, I definitely value what we gained from this period of time far more than if we had just continued on as before and not 'missed Summer'. And now, with our fresh wings, its going to be a disciplined effort to maintain that growth and continue it in times of plenty. Starting with a new week. Order and routine are sometimes my best friends.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I read something this morning that I thought was interesting and wanted to share.

"Our primary calling is not to serve people or meet their demands but to be available to God: to know Him and worship Him."

The first commandment is to love the Lord. I guess because its tangible, serving others gets the focus usually. But that's not where we are to start. Serving and loving our brother is second to God.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just an Ordinary Day

Is today just an ordinary day? America says it is. Hurry up, get to school, don't be late for work, buy a new car, go by wal-mart on the way home, make sure everyone is entertained, check the phone, keep everyone quiet, block out the world, go to bed. Ordinary and normal is what we strive for right? Custom, expectation - that's just what you do. But why do you do it? For 2000+ years, followers of Christ have been shifting and shuffling around, trying to serve God; some harder than others. Sometimes we shuffle too far, sometimes we haven't shifted towards God enough. All the while, God hasn't moved an inch - He's right where He's always been, saying what He's always said.

For me, it is so easy to get sucked into American religion or Western spiritual customs and allow them to influence my view of God and His expectations. As a society, we swing from one side to the other - from allowing our emotional reactions to dictate to classifying right and wrong based on what some other group may or may not have done. Just because it feels right doesn't mean God desires it. Just because a practice may look like this group or that doesn't mean God does NOT desire it. Our perceptions are so easily influenced by social ideas that its a wonder we can walk straight without surveying our entire neighborhood! If nothing else, it sure does make me thankful for having the bible so readily available in our time. The rest of us are just too unreliable, finicky and foolish to trust with our salvation.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It is a cloudy Monday morning here in Oklahoma City and I'm thankful for that. I don't know about you, but I have this crazy love/hate relationship with routine and changing things up. When I don't have a set routine, I become very undisciplined and things fly quickly out of control, but if life strolls along so rigid without ever a variation, I want to die inside. Most jobs I am ready to quit after 3 months. If I could I would change around at least one room every 3 months or so. I love working on plans and come up with a new one for something every 2 or 3 months. But if between those 3 months there isn't some real form of regularity I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing.

I worked this weekend to get a lot of housework and chores done in preparation for a new routine starting today. Perhaps new is incorrect. A routine was re-established this morning and boy does it feel good.

I do have a special request this morning. Please pray for Randy and I this week. Its growing critical that we find some success somewhere (job search, tutoring business, etc.) and we have had an extremely rough time not giving in to depression and anxiety. More than anything, making decisions about what to do or what to have faith in (that God will bless this direction or that, etc) is weighing down hard. So, please remember us when you pray.

This was on my day calendar recently and I loved it.

"Touch the earth, love the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth's and they are given to all..."
-Henry Beston

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's the Point?

I've heard it most of my life from the pulpit and in late night chats. "We baptized dozens and where do they go? If everyone we baptized were still here, there wouldn't be enough room for everyone." And then a discussion about what's wrong with the world, the church, the christians, etc. ensues. I've been there in the middle of that conversation many times. Yet, here we are still witnessing this phenomenon in most areas and congregations. Evidently all of our talk hasn't produced much fruit, has it? I've had some things nagging me in the back of my mind lately having to do with why people struggle or leave and what it means to really help and be there for someone. Think of 3 people who are struggling or have left God completely. Why are they living like that? Do you have any idea? I think sometimes we truly don't have any clue, mostly b/c they are probably not like me. They don't respond like me, they don't talk like me or feel like me. So, its safer to just say they don't want to do what's right so they left or they sinned or gave up or whatever.

I'll tell you what I'm seeing and thinking. I think that, at least here in the midwest/south, there are emotional problems multiplying like cancer and are largely being neglected. Pain, anger, alienation, lack of skill, insecurity, you name it, people struggle with it constantly. The struggle is common to man, of course. But a spiritual family is designed to fill in those gaps and help heal the past. But how can any of that growth happen if no one is talking about it?

How aware are you of what kind of emotional struggles the family in the pew next to you have? How comfortable are you with asking your brothers and sisters how their struggles are effecting their emotions, relationships or habits? None of us want the entire world knowing our business, but we all need somebody. Often when serious problems arise, everyone is shocked and had no idea there was even a problem, and certainly not that bad. They never said anything or asked for help. They should ask for help, that's true. But when life is crumbling around you, that can be one of the hardest things to do.

I guess all I'm saying is that it makes sense that people flock to places and people that are genuinely interested in their lives - the good and the bad - and do their best to understand, even if they can't exactly help. If I or the group that I associate with am not creating an environment where people can lay their burdens down and be fed, what's the point?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Are You Important

Is what you do important? Do my plans for Friday night matter in the grand scheme of things? We live in the city and are constantly bombarded by billboards, annoying radio commercials and relentless pressure to buy, buy, buy. It doesn't take long to be convinced that your purpose in life is to make more money to buy more things. There's new stuff every day that you just 'gotta have'. At very least, it makes it easy to have no purpose at all. If it were up to me, I'd be content with 10 acres out somewhere, growing my own food, writing to my heart's content and having visitors every couple of days. I'm okay with that purpose. :) Randy's heart has big plans for him I think. He longs to do something really important. Not so much like changing foreign policy or anything, but something really helps people, really matters. After a discussion about such things, I got to thinking about about it all and considered something I hadn't thought of before, at least in regard to myself. As Randy's wife, the only one he has, I am important. Any conversation we have and the role I play is potentially very important. What kind of man will he become after he's been with me? Whether it is a marriage, parent-child or friend relationship, consider just how important you could be! What kinds of things could they dare to do in the future? How much does your belief and encouragement in them matter? I guess that depends on what you say really, but it could matter a whole lot. As we all do, its easy to get so comfortable with those you love that frustration is the most common emotion we share with them. But what if it wasn't? What if we believed, encouraged and helped them to dream bigger? When I think about it that way, I want to take a little more pride in my 'position', not because its highly esteemed among men, but because of how much it could matter, at least in his life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm Just Not Ready

In the shower this morning I was going over the things I needed to remember to do today and felt much like juggler. Which ball do you throw first? The muscle we use to focus on several things at once is a special one isn't it? At that moment, I realized how much of my life I wanted things much sooner than I was ready to deal with. Probably the most common example of this is young ladies longing to be matched up and married, ready to create a home and tend to it. No matter the age, most feel afraid since it hasn't happened yet then it might not happen at all and then despair enters the heart. I was no different, except that while I wanted everything, I didn't want any cheap imitations or rushed orders. I wanted it with all of my heart, but I didn't want to mess it up even more. Of course, blatant perfectionism can get you in a whole lot of trouble. I'm not advocating such standards that no one can match, least of all you! But, sometimes we're just not ready for things and God knows that. No matter the age or the object of affection, sometimes we're just not ready. A 3 year old is not ready for the sole responsibility of a dog. Most 16 year old boys aren't ready to care for an entire house all by themselves. I spent several years as an official 'adult' in college and didn't marry until I was 26 (which by some standards is an old maid!). I am 29 and have yet to birth children. I am now so grateful for all of that. I cherish being able to consider my roles, consider my capabilities and desires before being thrown in them. We can't always be so lucky, but in so many ways we have that option in life and choose to ignore it. Because others around us, whether our age, circumstance or whatever, start doing things, its so easy to get caught up in the idea that you probably should too. Moving out, going to college, getting a pet, marrying, having children, etc. are all things that requires a certain level of preparation and responsibility. These undertakings, without some preparation and readiness, can blow up in your face. In the shower this morning I was so thankful that I did not get what I thought I wanted several years ago because I flat out wasn't ready at all.
I know, when are you ever really ready for adulthood and all it holds? You might answer never, but I wouldn't. There is a scale I think rather than ready or not. We're taught to seek wisdom, especially in our youth. To me that means there are wiser choices and less wise choices. When I say ready, I don't mean 'can perform task perfectly.' I mean informed of and grasp the gravity and ramifications of task. No, the world doesn't stop turning because someone does something prematurely, but ripe, juicy tomatoes are so much better than green, hard ones.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nice to Meet You

Hi Everyone. My name is Amy Butler and I am introverted and shy. I always get a chuckle or a 'Yeah, right!' from that statement, but it is true. Have you ever learned a skill or displayed an attitude because you thought you were supposed to? As kids a lot of things like that we learn from parents and other adults in our lives. I, subconsciously I guess, always thought I was supposed to be extroverted and outgoing. So, for all of adolescence and first part of adulthood I was. It took me years to see the connection between my 'necessary extroversion' and absolute exhaustion, borderline sickness and withdrawals from my bedroom (where no one else is and I can shut the door). Its no wonder I had panic attacks every so often.
Of course, the experience isn't all bad. I can hold a conversation with most people (eventually). Sometimes I'm funny. That came from the sheer nervousness I felt (feel) in the middle of a group and to cover that up I did what my family does best. (Enter Sarcasm) So, maybe I can make you laugh on occasion and I can make nice. But I'm not your frontman. I'm an analyzer, get to the root of the issue, behind the scenes kind of person. I say that more as a declaration to myself than to inform someone else. Its common for me to feel pressured into 'fronting' something and then wonder why I'm on the verge of tears and falling apart. As much as we'd like them to help us out sometimes, hands just aren't very good ears.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Well Fine Then!

Relationships are so complicated sometimes, its a wonder anyone can stand anyone anymore.  Even with the better intentions, we all find a breaking point in our tolerance.  There's only so much discomfort, pain, neglect, punishment, disregard (the list is endless) a person can take, right?  Nobody wants to be a doormat, waste their time or cast their pearls before swine.  Especially in our material possessions, we are more likely to trade in for a new one than be patient with the old one. 
I know of a story about a married couple who had two children, but lost one of them to a drunk driving accident.  The family was devastated, the couple's marriage grew rocky at best.  As time went on, the parents began to grieve separately and in their own way.  The father checked out completely - didn't know how to deal with the pain, so he didn't.  The mother was much more conscious of her distress and continually reached out to her husband, but he retreated more and more. The story ends badly with the husband cheating and leaving to start a new family.  Saying what one should do in a situation is not my point today.  The concept of holding on a little bit longer, enduring a little bit more for the sake of a relationship, out of pity and compassion for someone else's pain and struggle is not familiar to our modern societies.  We are all in it for ourselves.  When the world stops cooperating, its just natural to write it off.  In friendships, marriages, parent-child relationships, we come to expect needs to be met by others.  When they aren't, we let them know.  When they still aren't met, we pitch a fit, we cut them out, we leave.  But what if they needed from you when you needed from them? What happens then? The couple in the story were just that way. They both needed things from each other, but didn't give because of their own pain.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You've Come A Long Way, Baby!

Well, its been a while. In a couple of weeks we'll be at four months since Randy was laid off. Neglecting this blog was never an intentional thing, but sometimes emergency mode diminishes unnecessary things to the point of expulsion.  Randy still does not have a job, so to speak, but we have come a long way! He has found a new direction for his career that we both feel really good about.  I have started my own tutoring business that promises continued growth. And, so far, we've not gone into any kind of debt.  All in all, we've been blessed. 

Throughout this process, the pendulum of positive vs negative has been a constant battle, much more than I thought was realistic at times.  One event, one meal, one conversation can have so much power for good or bad.  Stability, security and expectation of the future are luxuries we had come to rely so heavily on. When they are gone, its not so bad at first, but after a while it feels like a sick joke.  How many decisions could I simply not make because I didn't know where we would be and how we would be living at some point in the future!  Thankfully, it is forcing us to face ourselves pretty regularly.  As members of a fast-paced, civilized society, its natural to become absorbed by our surroundings, focusing on trivial, unimportant things and completely forgetting the magnitude of each decision and how it impacts our soul.  Not having everything easy and normal reminds you that stability and normalcy should not depend on this social expectation of a 9-5 job with benefits and an office cube. If you have it and want it, praise the Lord! Since we don't, we are reminded to praise the Lord anyway! Randy and I both hate rigid schedules that only produce financial fruit anyway. Making the world better, doing something that matters, appreciated God's creation and learning to live life on God's terms, not man's, is much more fulfilling in the long run.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

When In Plenty, When In Want

They say be careful what you wish for and they are right.  

Randy has contemplated a job/career change for quite a while now.  Recently, we had determined that it was wise to stay at his current job because the income and added benefits were too good to pass up.  Still, he had joked about the economic downturns and the instability of his job, saying that he kinda wished he would get laid off because it would force him to go in another direction. But overall, he confessed to me, he was getting into a nice groove at work.  

In another aspect of our life, we have both (but he especially) have been studying more and desiring spiritual growth more significantly than before.  So much so that on Wednesday night after services we challenged each other (partially joking, partially serious) to a race to spiritual maturity.  Hope and intentions were very high.

Thursday morning Randy came in the front door much too early for lunch with his hands full of stuff and greeted me with "Guess what happened to me today?"  Utterly perplexed I may have mumbled a "What?" but hardly having a chance to respond he says, "I got laid off today."

Of course, we are blessed with health, safety, education and ability to work so this period of want we are entering is still very plenty.  It's scary to say the least.  But its more ironic than anything else.  Randy longed for something else.  We longed to really grow.  God said, "Well, okay. Here you go." :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kicking over those mushrooms

Mushrooms amaze me how they can show up overnight and surprise you!  Regular living does nothing to anticipate their arrival or help you plan for them in any way.  Mushrooms are not a significant force in my life, of course, but they resemble hidden problems to me.  Problems, personal weakness or unfinished business can be overlooked SO easily and for so long. But then, just as the mushroom does, they appear as though overnight and magically.  The environment obviously was favorable for those mushrooms, any scientist could have safely predicted their arrival.  In the same way, some partially skilled outsider could have predicted the pitfalls about to arise in my life.  For that matter, I am capable of predicting these issues myself, but not nearly as diligent.  We try so hard sometimes and think that surely its enough.  Enough to get the world off our back, enough to fulfill a requirement, enough to get the job done.  But no matter what you do to your front lawn, the world around it sometimes creates an environment where mushrooms will grow.  It takes a daily 'kicking' sometimes to get rid of those mushrooms.  When will I ever learn? :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pushed Out In the Cold

Boy Meets World was a staple television show from my past that ran from 1993-2000.  In the final season the show sweethearts, Cory & Topanga, get married and in the episode "The Honeymoon is Over", they get a harsh bite of reality.  In not fully preparing for adulthood, they find themselves living in 'married dorms' at school that turn out to be the local slums. When Cory finally reaches out to his parents for salvation, they refuse to help him saying they have to figure this out themselves.   In 1999, when I first saw this episode, I was 19 years old and couldn't imagine parents being so heartless to their kids!  In the end, the couple makes the best of a horrible situation and learns many lessons, but I was still unconvinced that such tough love was necessary.  
Marriage is a good illustration, but I think its more applicable to adulthood in general. What I thought was so heartless was perhaps hard to swallow but very realistic and healthy.  Parents are given the responsibility to care and raise their children, but for what reason? So that they can do things for them the rest of their life. Some might think so, but that isn't the case. It is so that those same children will one day be able to do for themselves and eventually do for their own children in the same way.  But, like in Cory & Topanga's situation, if their parents had set everything up for them, they  never would have known how to adapt and function on their own completely.  There is a time to take training wheels off. Taking the training wheels off doesn't mean you won't fall. It means when you fall, you do the picking up and trying again.
I hate doing certain things by myself and can grow exceedingly impatient when Randy lectures me that its good to be able to take care of things on my own.  But he's right.  Sharing and helping are wonderful things, but not if they are handicapping or enabling a crutch. I like to be propped up, but I'm learning that propping myself up makes me so much stronger and able.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Child Within Me

Do you remember learning to read? I don't.  I remember reading ask a kid, pronouncing words all over the place, but I can't seem to recall a time when I couldn't read.  Since I don't have kids yet, I have never experienced the entire process of a child learning to read from beginning to end.  Though I know children everywhere have or will learn to read, it seems so taxing to go from knowing nothing, to being able to form words, sentences and ultimately complex meanings.  The itemized process just makes me want to not bother.  
Did you catch the impatience floating around that entire thought? The precious gift of reading is something I never regret being able to do.  Reading is worth sounding out letters, guessing words and a furrowed brow! But at age 5, most kids would do without learning to read if they had their chance.  They don't realize what reading is worth, what it really means for them in the future.   Aren't we all 5 years old again sometimes?  We dismiss things that require 'too much work' and claim that we are fine in our current condition.  For a large part of USA's population, ADD isn't a physiological induced condition, but sociological induced problem.  In matters of relationship, health, finance, spiritual growth, etc., our society is experiencing crises everywhere. Having a fulfilling, healthy marriage does not happen because you found the right person.   Long-lasting health and weight loss cannot be found in a microwave and 10 minutes at a gym.  Money doesn't build up or keep flowing when you charge up credit cards and work part-time.  Greater love, compassion and gentleness aren't characteristics you're either born with or not.  All of these things take intentional work over the course of time.  Most of these things are continual processes that you will never just be done with.  Sounds kind of overbearing doesn't it?  That's what I always thought.  If it took too long, I knew it wasn't worth anything. Guess what? I was so wrong.  I'm not even a huge success at any of these or similar areas. I have seen small success and you know what I have found? Even a little success is worth all the discomfort and sacrifice I experienced, no matter how small or great.  Truth be told, I'm mesmerized a little by the process of change, how it comes about and all of the elements involved.   I'm not sure how to convince grown-up 5 year olds (like myself) that hard work is worth the bother, but I'm sure learning that it is.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

That Growth May Abound

Have you ever witnessed an accident of some kind as though it were in slow motion? You see everything coming and you want to scream or stop it somehow.  When I look back over some of the choices and decisions I've made, its as though I were a time-traveler and thought I could change the future and avoid accidents.  The trouble with that, as some time-travel epics illustrate, the mere act of trying to prevent sometimes is the actual cause.  All of my many years in college, my intention was to go after something I loved and felt strongly about. I did NOT want to end up employed in a industry or field where I did nothing meaningful to me.  Instead, I never quite followed anything through, resulting in qualifications that left just shy of any position most people were hiring for.  I have really painted myself into a corner.  It is true that I have two college degrees, a wonderful husband, friends, family, and don't forget two beautiful dogs.  So, there has been follow through at times throughout my life. But, when you foolishly in-debt yourself to a university for a tad more than a few bucks, doing something with your degree becomes important, if not necessary. 

Before the wailers and mourners begin, all is not lost. Today is always an opportunity to learn from mistakes and I'm already working on it.    My first lesson learned is to focus just as much (if not more) on working hard at something than avoiding all of your feared outcomes.  Either what you fear will never happen, which is the case most of the time. Or, your fear will happen eventually (death, separation, etc.) so you'd best get used to the idea now. 

Today I am trying to get rid of all fear by ignoring the ones that are silly and facing the ones that are my eventual reality.  The hope is that growing will abound!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

Until this morning, I had not seriously considered the link between looking for easier ways and being impatient.  I've not been known for my sustaining patience and so it would stand to reason that easier ways would be my treasure.  The hard, day to day work is what I'm trying to avoid in the end. However, the truth I'm seeing is that giving into impatience AND waiting or searching for an easier way typically takes just as much time as being patient and working hard. The difference is that with the former, you  have nothing more to show for it when you never found an easier way or the way you found required work too.

Sometimes I get so frustrated and literally complain to God - "Why won't everything work the way I want it to?"  "When will things change?" or my favorite "It isn't fair.  Please don't make me learn this lesson any more!"  For a second this morning on the treadmill my emotions tried to stir all of that up, but thankfully, the Lord blessed me with some clarity and I chose to listen to it.  Even though sometimes all I can see is how imperfect my circumstances are, what God is looking for is growth.  In moments of sheer arrogance and pride, I've thought "I'm sure glad my life isn't like that!" or "I would be so miserable if I was that person." From a very fleshly worldly mindset, we all think that way. Otherwise, there would be no such ambition in the world to be good, better, the best.  But if we're looking through heaven's eyes, where you start has no bearing on your value.  Our value comes from and increases when we grow.  We are here to grow, to be prepared for heaven, to experience what God can accomplish in us.   
In writing this, I hope it will help me to remember to consider heaven's eyes before my own.  Any thoughts on ways to remember this better?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There isn't an easier way.

Most of my life, somewhere in my mind I assumed most things had an easier way.  Find the easier way and you were one of the good people, the skinny ones, the pretty ones, the adored ones, the cool ones.  After all, that's what the industrial revolution and technological expansion gave us: easier ways.  So, imagine my shame and despair when I finally admitted to myself that in many matters worthwhile to me, there simply was not an easier way.  Relationships don't just magically maintain themselves, weight (especially with my genes) doesn't conveniently leave you just because you feel bad about it, and adulthood doesn't grab you by the throat and make you grow.   The silly thing is that my brain, as seen by my actions, really thought relationships just happened, weight fell off and growth was an automatic.  And really this is just the beginning. My brain has been believing the perceptions I have rather than believing the truth that is usually right in front of it.  The good news is that I'm starting to get it, the whole working hard thing.   The bad news is, the more I 'get it', the more I realize how deceived I was.  I can say with a confident heart, though, how painful and wonderful growth is.