Saturday, November 24, 2007

And Be Thankful...

Apparently, being thankful is a mandatory endeavor for this time of year. I find thankfulness to be, as other emotions, a choice. A few years ago I remember Oprah challenging viewers to create and maintain a daily gratitude journal. Her premise was that each evening you were to write five things that you are thankful for. She surmised that "If you start focusing on what you have and what you're grateful for, you will then begin to see more." I have never been a big “name it and claim it” person theologically, but sometimes in dealing with life---it rings true.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 NIV). This scripture was brought to mind during this Thanksgiving season. We are CALLED to peace and to thankfulness. This scripture implies that peace is found within the boundaries of thankfulness. The benefit of thankfulness is peace—real peace—not the kind the world gives. As I looked across the Thanksgiving table at my fiancé, parents, brothers, in-laws, nephews and good friends, I was absolutely thankful.

Having a grateful spirit when life seems less than so, is not easy. Taking steps to create a thankful heart is often demanding. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a good friend’s daughter was in a car accident on the way home from college. My friend received a vague report of the accident while at school. Fortunately, I was available to be with her as she contacted her husband for the details of the accident. For twenty minutes we waited on news. A portrait of gratitude could not have been painted more unmistakably than on my friend’s face when hearing the news that her daughter was safe. OH, what a thankful heart she must have today—and peace---yeah! It puts life into perspective.

Tonight, my grateful journal would read something like this:
  • For the love of family and friends, I am forever grateful
  • For the hope of another great love, I am thankful.
  • For the gift of infinite laughter, I am grateful.
  • For the shelter of a HOME---not a house, I am thankful.
  • For the spiritual legacy of the faithful gone before me, I am grateful.

This I know for sure…

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Writing Gene

There is no “writing gene”—no magic formula to become a good (even mediocre) writer EXCEPT that in order to be a good writer—you MUST READ. My freshman in college just came to this realization. What makes me the proud mama I am is that he has decided to do something about his state of affairs and start to read!!!! Yes, in order to be a writer—you MUST read—and then---read. SO-I openly state that C. C. is one amazing young man who will someday find his "voice".

This I know for sure...
UPDATE: C. flew in the door on Thursday with an A+ on his sociology research paper. YEP--it went up on the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
But by the moments that take our breath away”

My first blog regarding this quote was on October 14, 2006. I proceeded listing those moments in my life, which have truly taken my breath away. Today, I find a new event to add to those that take my breath away and acknowledge it to all:

Events such as when…
…the man I have fallen in love with reaches for my hand, and places a beautiful 1.5 carat pav’e set diamond ring upon it and asks: “will you marry me?”—Yes, that is a moment, which takes my breath away---and did this weekend.

Psalms 30:5 states: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” My joy has come—our joy has come. It has grown over the past 14 months into something remarkable.

I often post on the YWBB that I believe those who loved well once, will love well again. I believe that the love I was able to nourish and grow all those years is the foundation of my love today. So, I embrace the future with hope that life will only continue to become more tender and fulfilling. I enter this “chapter two” with my eyes wide open. We no longer are carefree youths and life challenges, like blending two families, will be challenging; but, love is an amazing glue that binds the past with the future, memory to dream and family to family. Life will not be without its challenges, but isn’t that what living is all about? I won’t lose the opportunity for happiness due to fear of the unknown.

When I am teaching writing to my students we often concentrate on creating “strong leads”. As my “chapter two” begins, we have a tremendously strong lead. Our story to this point is quite amazing, one I will write down at some later date, but for now---I just want to share my happiness in the moment—the sense of contentment with the present and yes, great joy for the future.

This I know for sure...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Taking the High Road!!

I opened my word processor today with every intention of regaling you with an inspiring anecdote while patting myself on the back for seemingly "taking the high road" in a situation at work. Looking for a quote to support my haughtiness, I came across this one:

"Spiritual growth comes from the sum of all of our life experiences. When we choose to take the high road in situations it is often the result of having taken the low road at an earlier turn along the path."

Dang—arrogance—it is an ugly thing. I outwardly took the high road this time, only because I had staggered down the low road earlier, so never mind. It wasn't that great of an effort on my part after all. It was simply the attempt to resolve what I had screwed up to begin with.

Reflection—think I will get rid of that mirror.

This I know for sure…

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What I Know for Sure----for REAL!!!

How many times have you cried out to God—wanting to simply know WHY? Why did I lose my job? Why is my marriage falling apart? Why is my child ill? Why was my husband taken away from me too soon? Sitting in my pew this morning, I was feeling a bit out of place. It has been a long week—one of dealing with disappointments and having to come to terms with the role my job will now play in my life. I was tired—weary—and a bit—negative. P.T. was summarizing the main points of his sermons the past few weeks based on the book of Ecclesiastes. He reiterated something he said earlier this month, but didn’t have the impact it did as I listened today. He merely said, “Don’t let what you DON’T understand destroy what you already know.” Unfortunately, I didn’t hear anything more---my mind turned this idea over and over.

I contemplated my blog and its title: What I Know for Sure. I discovered how trite this statement could seem without truly scrutinizing what it is that I DO know for sure. What are the absolutes in my life that I am so quick to pass over when life becomes unbearable? Why am I so quick to doubt, when there is so much that I know for sure.

It seems to be the popular thing to "take stock" these days. I have received, what seems like, a plethora of emails from friends urging me to stock of something in my life. The last one was “My Favorite Four”. The first few of these I received were somewhat novel: What are four paying jobs I have had in my life? What are four of my favorite foods? etc… I am even guilty of passing on one or two of these surveys, but now---I simply press, “delete” and deal with the four years of bad luck that is certain to come my way. I find myself in need of “taking stock” in a more constructive manner. Today, I have decided to take stock of what it is “I know”, so that when the winds of insecurity and fear blow into my life; I will not permit these absolutes to be shattered.

What I know for sure….the absolutes:

  1. I have a relationship with a loving heavenly Father who loves and cares for me unconditionally. One who sustains my life and allows me to live courageously.
  2. My parent’s love is unconditional. I am fortunate in this aspect. This fact has nothing to do with what I have done, but everything to do with who they are. Though I am sure I have disappointed them, I know their love remains unbroken.
  3. I love my children unconditionally. There is absolutely NOTHING they could do to lose my love for them.
  4. I am not perfect-and neither is anyone else. The grace I long to cover me—must also be afforded to others.
  5. Contentment is a choice. It doesn’t come to me under obligation or because I am “due” it in any way.
  6. Accepting the present creates the ability to build a positive future—one with hope and promise.
  7. Allowing God to work within my life; to guide my judgment and mind-set develops the inner strength needed to face adversity.
  8. I will experience disappointment, heartache and sorrow. It is inevitable and unfortunately just because I have experienced something devastating, doesn’t mean I have been given immunity to heartache. HOWEVER, there is One who has gone before me, experienced each of these and created within me strength for persevering through them.
  9. There is no substitution for strong, enduring friendships. When life’s trials grow more than I can handle—I simple lean on my incredible friendships—those who have chosen to walk the road with me. I am more than blessed in this area and I NEVER want to take them for granted, but always want to celebrate what each and every one of them mean to me.
  10. NEVER, NEVER, EVER say “NEVER” -it will, beyond a doubt bite you in the butt… So what is the lesson--I will not be bound by these absolutes, but will be guided by them.

Now, they are in print, my absolutes---what are yours? This is much more important than your favorite food----take stock so that when you are confronted with those life situations that don’t make sense; you are still able to hold onto your absolute truths-those things you...


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bliss - the Stolen Blog Subject

I love great writing. I especially admire exceptional writing, which makes me laugh and also aspires me to think. This afternoon, I sat down to read some of my friend’s blogs when I came upon an entry by Annie about a newspaper column she had read. Intrigued, I did what any overly curious person would do and I “Googled” the author of the column: Mark Morford (SFGate). I found the article, read it and then two hours later left my computer (after reading some of his archived works). I snickered. I laughed and yes, I really thought.

This particular column, the subject of Annie’s blog, was entitled: Behold the Bliss Watch List (if you click on the title you, too, can read it).

I interrupt this blog for the familial disclaimers: Evan & Marc—you will love this guy: Dad—just get past the expletives and read the other words: Mom—I know you will like this guy’s writing, but won’t be able to admit it—that’s ok-we understand.

Morford’s assertion is that by creating a diametrically oppositional list to the “US Terrorist Watch List”, we could override the database and perhaps even shut it down (he uses much more colorful words—I can't do him justic). He wants to call this the “Bliss Watch List” (BWL). Here are the qualifications of being placed on such a “list”.

“Our screening process will be rigorous and incontrovertible and true. The BWL will contain only the names of people widely suspected of being savvy, titillating, open-hearted, deeply lovable, sexed-up geniuses of divine intent and hot self-exploration and ravenous intellectual curiosity.

It will contain the names of anyone who is suspected of daring to understand that life is not, in fact, a clenched and harrowing slog, but an actual ongoing, incessant, stunning manifestation of the divine, even when it's dirty and violent and obnoxious and horribly dressed and seems to contain only a bleak never-ending rundown of doom and decay and Dick Cheney. It's just that kind of list.”

So, here I sit, at my computer, vigorously raising my hand—PUT ME ON THE LIST, BABY if I am not "there" yet, I will work my way onto it!!

This I know for sure...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What I have gotten used to:

Today I was challenged to take a look at my life and examine what I have gotten used to, or comfortable with. This examination has been two-fold for me. For one, I contemplated what I was comfortable with that has changed and left me a bit out of my element. On the other hand I have scrutinized those areas in my life that I have become too comfortable with that have left me, for lack of a better word; lazy.

For my entire career I have had close friendships and experienced strong camaraderie at work. I am helplessly relationship driven and am fortunate to have strong connections with others in my life. With my position change this year, came a change in school buildings. I have not experienced the same comfort-zone that friendship at work afforded me in the past. Instead I find myself in a specialized atmosphere where I can perform professionally with few personal connections. I find that I no longer find those work-connections essential to my happiness on the job. Strong family and friendships outside the workplace anchor my life at this point. After analyzing, I am wondering if this isn’t God preparing me for the next step in my career. So though I was not as comfortable with this change in the beginning, I am growing to accept it and even embrace the freedom it affords.

In contrast, there are definitely areas of my life I have become too comfortable with which need to be addressed. I no longer am driven to exercise. This isn’t really a good thing. There is no reason for this other than I have been too lazy. How long does it take to walk? 30 minutes? I certainly choose to waste this much time completing trivial tasks each day. Yet, it has become “comfortable” to simply bypass the exertion. I have also become “comfortable” with clutter---NOT clutter that anyone can see, but closets, cabinets and such. I can find “stuff" stored in these areas---well---most of the time. This change did not happen over night, but is something I have gotten used to over time. It is surprising that I would become content with something that 2 years ago would have driven me crazy.

Perhaps it is time to embrace the comfort zone changes that have left me a sense of calm and to begin to change those that have compromised my standards. Either way, I suppose that comfort zone changes are like all other changes in life ----they merely take time.

This I know for sure...