Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Should Be Gratitude...

Christmas shopping stresses me out. More than almost anything I can name at the moment, the idea of buying the perfect gift for someone makes me nuts. It's not the money, the time, the malls, the crowds. It's this bizarre notion that the weight of the civilized world rides on whether or not I find the perfect gift for my nephew.

It's paralyzing.

I have felt this way for as long as I can remember. Who knows why; it's too early in the day to have any kind of focus on the sort of self-analyzing required to figure this one out. But I think it's the root of all my negative feelings about Christmas, and somehow connected to my deepest insecurities. The weight of the world is on my shoulders; I have to find everyone the perfect gift.

I have a large family - five kids, a husband, in-laws, brother and family, parents, coworkers. I have a huge circle of acquaintances and friends. Come December 1st, the overriding challenge behind most of my daily life is finding the perfect gift. And what drives me is not about what my friends and family might most appreciate or like; it seems to be more about me. Ironically, most gifts I give seem to end up being less than stellar. I tend to give up and grab something out of the dollar bin at Target.

Well, okay. Maybe not. But that's how I feel.

The option of failure seems somehow larger than a $20 purchase; it has something to do with my own self-worth, ability to do the right thing, be good enough.

It's just freaking overwhelming. I feel controlled by this inability to choose a gift. Frankly, it doesn't matter when I start - I can shop in July and struggle with the same thing. No amount of planning or budgeting ever seems to help.

It's somewhat ridiculous to be sitting in my kitchen early on Thanksgiving morning feeling this pit in my stomach. I thought I'd check out a few online deals in the hopes of finding the perfect gift. I thought perhaps that would help - no stress of stores or lines, no feelings of being overwhelmed by Too Much Stuff. Instead, I've come away with this nauseous feeling that I'll never get it right. It's not even 9:00AM, and instead of gratitude, the vile stench of guilt is sneaking up behind me.

I wish I could get over this. How do I get over this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Utterly Happy

Writing the first draft of a message for church. Four pages.


Ugh. Frustrated, ready to trash it all, hopelessly unable to find the hook. So passionate about so much and so unable to relate it with any sense of order.

Going through my notebook, pawing through the things I have scrawled in the hopes there will be something of substance, I find this list. Buried at the beginning of the book, probably the result of some writing prompt.

It says:

1. scrapbooking
2. playing music
3. sitting behind Tony on the bike
4. playing music
5. teaching Bible stuff
6. walking on beach
7. writing

I've been looking for utterly happy. Maybe I ought to pay attention to my own list.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soul Print

If you liked chasing the wild goose, you might be interested in an upcoming new release from Mark Batterson (author of Wild Goose Chase). 

Publishing date is January 18, but amazon has a great pre-order sale going on.

It's called Soul Print: Discovering Your Divine Destiny. 

I ordered mine. Looking forward to a nice surprise in the mail in the middle of January!

Find it here - 33% discount!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Little Bit Of Truth

I respect Donald Miller.

When I read a bit of criticism online, especially if it’s some kind of theological attack, my mind immediately assumes it’s been written by a white young man in his early twenties. And I’m normally right. Last night we were at a show, and before the show somebody tweeted that “Donald Miller better not mess up this show for me or there will be hell to pay.” The twitter profile offered no picture, but I knew it was a white kid in his twenties, and it turned out I was right. I was on the road with Derek Webb, Robbie Seay and Sandra McCracken, and we wrote the kids name down on pieces of paper, then put them all into a hat, then did a drawing from the stage where he thought he’d won something, and was invited up to be interviewed. I asked him what he did, and he wrote a blog espousing a certain theological position, and then we put his tweet up on screen. He was a great sport about the whole thing. I’d share his blog but to be honest I never read it. He’d unfortunately lost my respect. He claimed to not know me or have read my books, but had no problem issuing a threat like some kind of religious cop.

But I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that a little bit of truth in the hands of the immature turns immediately into a sense of superiority, and usually an attack on whatever position is seen as contradictory.

What is really happening here is a young man who is struggling for an identity, to tell the world that he is right and smart, uses some bit of theology as a flag for his identity, skipping the part where the truth about God he has learned humbles him and brings him to his knees, and makes his heart tender and broken for those who are suffering outside the unconditional love of Christ. It’s a disgusting trick, and it isn’t from God.

When we are young or immature, right theology makes us feel superior, but when we are older and more mature, a study of theology makes us feel inferior and unworthy, undeserved, and grateful.

"A little bit of truth in the hands of the immature turns immediately into a sense of superiority..."

Been there, done that. I have been that immature person more times that I care to admit - and it wasn't always twenty-odd years ago. Immaturity rages at inopportune times, and getting older doesn't guarantee consistent wisdom and the ability to keep your mouth shut.

But I am older now. Old enough now to look back and recognize the woman I have been, and old enough now to know better. And to embrace the woman that I am.

There are some things that do get better with age.

From Miller's blog, here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"I Kicked The Fire On Him"

An important update on a story I blogged about a few months ago.

Because I know you're just dying to know. (Added emphasis mine, because - well, you know. Some things just ought to be in bold.)

Steven Y. Bowles will serve three years in prison for lighting his friend on fire.

The victim, Robert L. Cashion, was sleeping in Bowles’ backyard after he and Bowles had gotten “out of their heads” on moonshine, according Bowles’ lawyer, Randy B. Rowlett.

Bowles, 28, was frustrated that he couldn’t wake the victim, “so I set [him] on fire,” Bowles told a sheriff’s deputy in March. “What was I supposed to do? He wouldn’t leave.”

Deputies were called to Bowles’ residence in March, located in the 2400 block of Pocahontas Road, on a report of shots fired.

According to testimony from Deputy Haislip of the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office, Bowles said he first tried cutting Cashion to wake him. When that failed, Bowles fired two shots into the ground near where the victim lay.

Finally, Bowles told the deputy, “I kicked the fire on him.”

The deputy said there was no evidence of a fire in the backyard.

“I can’t think of a more outrageous act,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Beasley. “He simply set the victim on fire because he couldn’t wake him up.”

“It was an accident,” Bowles said before being sentenced. “I don’t remember what happened that night.”

Judge James F. D’Alton sentenced Bowles on a charge of malicious wounding to 20 years in prison, but suspended 17 years of the sentence.

Bowles was earlier convicted of assault and battery and reckless handling of a firearm.

“I’m still stunned that this actually happened,” said Beasley. “It’s one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever seen.”

The victim continues to undergo skin graphs, Beasley said, and Rowlett admitted during argument that the injuries are “life altering.”
People. You gotta love 'em.

The Dangers Of Cooking

Remember the awesome ribs I blogged about?

The deliciousness did not come without a price. A nasty, throbbing, bright red guesswhatitsinfected sort of price.

I gotta go to the doctor.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Like Change

I'm really into this idea of fresh starts, second chances, new beginnings. Change stimulates my creativity, makes me feel solid and centered.

As a kid, I rearranged my bedroom furniture. A lot.

I do it as an adult, as well; not so frequently anymore (these days, I'd rather sleep in a chair than reposition it).

So, today? Lots of change.

First of all, we had our normal Wednesday staff devotional time in silence. Twenty minutes, in the auditorium, silently connecting with God. It was powerful and extremely intimate, which is somewhat curious. We did something in silence, and yet felt so connected when we finished. Very cool. An incredible time with my co-workers / friends.

Then Lindsay, Anna and I worked hard to swap offices. Lindsay and I work together, and we spend a lot of our office hours together in my office, working at a big table. Anna shares space with Lindsay but has been longing for something a little more intimate. So we decided to switch. Lindsay and I moved in together and Anna got somewhat settled in her own space.

New walls, new arrangements, books in new (somewhat random) order on the shelves. A new view.

A fresh season, an untraveled path.

I like it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yum Delicious Ribs

I really love cooking for my family.

Pork ribs are on sale at Food Lion.

I bought a package and came home looking for a new recipe; I've never been happy with "ungrilled" ribs.

Found the recipe. Made some adjustments. Cooked the ribs. Pronounced them DELICIOUS.

You will, too. If you try this, let me know how it goes.

1/3 cup brown sugar
a little less than 1/4 cup kosher salt
paprika to taste (I used about a teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 300. Mix together sugar, salt and paprika in a bowl. Cut ribs into pieces. Roll 'em around in the sugar mixture.

Place in a large pan. Add water, about one inch high (or come borrow my red cup, which had just enough to fit perfectly). Bake one hour at 300. Remove ribs and turn them over. Bake another hour.

Remove pan; turn oven up to 400. Spoon barbecue sauce over each rib (I used some store-bought brand, don't even remember what kind...) Put them back in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take 'em out. Don't burn yourself on the pan (I did. Ouch.)



Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Day Off

I need to do a better job making room in my life for....well, for my life.

I don't do Sabbath well. I think we've already discussed that here on this blog.

I don't do "a day off" well, either. My boss called me out on that this week. Let me say that any job where your boss pushes you hard to "please, just take a day off! I mean it!" is a pretty good job.

There are a lot of issues here, for sure. I let my work define me. I actually do, quite simply, have a lot to do, and it's hard to get it done in 40 hours. I work flexible time, so often it seems like I'm always working, when in fact, I'm...well....okay....

I also have control issues, like I think the world will stop if I stop.

Oddly enough, in the middle of all this I sometimes have trouble returning phone calls and keeping up with messages. Work is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, I guess; I'll get to the end of the day and say, "Finally, I'm done!" and realize the next day that I let fifteen people languish because they expected some communication from me.


I am rambling, because it's 1:00 AM and I am supposed to be talking about my day off.

I took one. Lounged around the house for most of the morning with my husband. Went to lunch with my husband, which included great conversation. Visited a music store with my husband and found out what a small, small world it is, after all; the store owner is from the same county I lived in back in Ohio.

Came home, had to work. Too many unexpected things popping up for the weekend that could not wait.

Took my youngest son for a haircut. Went to Target. Saw my eldest son march in a home football game. Came home and watched a movie (Shooter with Mark Wahlberg, who does a fine job capping off a day of rest for me) with my husband. Ate Ben & Jerry's for dinner (Chocolate Fudge Brownie). Snuggled with my daughters.

My day off. It's over.