Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lament

A 4-day weekend is always hard to give up.
Getting up whenever I want.
No agenda except the one of my own making.
Spending hours reading.
It has come to an end ever so quickly.

Onward December.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Water Into Wine

In some ways, like the progress of our culture, Christianity has increasingly become more modern and mainstream. Depending on whom you talk to or what groups you circulate in, the opinions of Christianity are about as diverse as the colors of a rainbow.

That being said, there are a few topics that almost always bring controversy. One of the greats is drinking alcohol. Regardless of your personal opinion on this subject, the passage in the Bible about the first miracle that Jesus performed captures me. It's the one where Jesus turned the water into wine.

Here’s the deal; he was partying with his posse. They are at a wedding and everyone is boozing it up when they run out of wine. Here’s what I find interesting. Jesus, being God, perfectly sinless in every way, doesn’t say, ‘you all have had too much to drink; it’s time to call it a night. The party’s over, I’ll be the DD; it’s time to go sleep it off’. Instead, he chooses to make this the site of his first miracle and he turns the case of Evian in the corner into the finest Cabernet and keeps the party going.

Picturing this scenario in today’s American society, I find it comical. Some followers of Jesus today would bail out of a situation like this. Drunken wedding celebrations are not accepted in some American churches but Jesus’ first miracle was actually providing every opportunity for an intoxicated celebration.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Despite the fact that it took her 30-something hours of labor to arrive, Abi made her grand entrance 5 days after Thanksgiving that year. She finally showed up screaming with every ounce of her 8 lb. little body. With that, the drama began.

I was 12 years old when I witnessed my youngest sister’s birth. It was quite an experience for a pre-teen. We had spent months gathering baby clothes, toys, diapers, and all manner of accessories. The anticipation and excitement consumed us. We folded the tiny sleepers and blankets and rearranged the bibs and doll sized socks and pacifiers everyday that summer. My sisters and I were being given the best Christmas gift ever, a real live baby doll. She was ours. Being nearly a teenager, and having babysat other children, I was aware and capable of understanding what it meant to take care of a baby and I looked forward to it.

She was born a fighter, screamer and all drama. At 3 months old, my parents left Abi with my sisters and I while they went out for the evening. She screamed the whole night. Somewhere around 5 months old, she took “getting attention” to a new level. She cried so hard that she held her breath until she passed out. She went limp, eyes rolled back in her head. I thought she was dying. My dad blew in her face and she quickly regained consciousness. After that, the ‘pass-out trick’ became a regular occurrence. One time when Abi had just learned to roll over, I was home alone with her. I put her on my bed while I cleaned my room. She rolled off the bed. Scared but unhurt she pulled the pass-out stunt again. It was a little frightening but I knew what to do and within a minute or so, everything was fine.

At age 3, she had a vocabulary that exceeded most 8 year olds and she had the diva attitude to go with it. Having 3 teenaged sisters, she had to keep up. Since she was the youngest, she needed someone to boss around. Abi had her own pony and was not afraid to sneak out of the house and hop on “Cowboy” with her whip in hand and ram-rod around the arena as fast as Cowboy’s short legs would go. When it came to pets, she loved them. At 7 years old, she became a cat breeder. She had a couple of cats named “Frank” and “Jesse” and soon she had a litter of kittens. She took care of them as if they were her children. She carried them around in a blanket and made sure they stayed cozy at night in the shed. She is still the source of laughter and joy in our family. Easily excitable, she keeps us all from getting too serious. A few years ago, on Christmas Eve, Abi disappeared. When I went to find her, the sign posted on her bedroom door said, “DO NOT COME IN! RAPING PRESENTS”. We still tease her about that.

Today, my baby sister turns 19. It’s hard to believe the chatty little girl that would tell stories while I put sponge rollers in her hair is all grown up. Generally, siblings are only a few years apart in age so they all grow up together. It’s a different experience to actually watch your sister grow up. In high school, I watched her be a leader to the girls on her volleyball team while she tried her best to stay above the teen-girl pettiness. She is beautiful! She is sensitive. She is becoming a strong and confident woman and has proven that she desires to continue to grow in character. She takes time to connect with people that most young adults her age think they are too cool to care about.

Abi, I am proud of you! I see that you are far beyond where I was at your age. I know you have what it takes to pursue the desires of your heart. Don’t let the tough spots in life derail your dreams. Go after them, even if you find them changing, as you get older. Remember that every person who makes an appearance in your life is there for a reason. And every obstacle or crisis is an opportunity for growth. You possess beauty and joy that the world needs. Don’t ever be afraid of who you are. Take the risk in giving of yourself in spite of the heartache that may come your way. The pay out will be worth it in the end. Don’t shutdown. Be only who you are.

I miss you, Abs. I miss taking you to Wal-mart on a moment’s notice and listening to our favorite songs as loud as we can stand it. I’m guessing you are having a big feast today 'cause this year, you are sharing your day with Thanksgiving.

I love you Abi-jail!
Happy Birthday!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Love Or Fear

Love – Deep affection or intense desire for another. Selfless dedication to another.
Fear – Deep apprehension or intense anxiety. Anticipation of adversity or misfortune.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

In every conversation, every human interaction, every day of every life we have the choice to love or fear. All that we do and say is motivated by either love or fear. When we are wronged, mistreated, or misunderstood do we confront in love or do we rise up to seek vindication through fear? To speak to another from a place of fear will reap in return the stirred up fear of that other person. The cycle continues like a merry-go-round. Fear breeds fear. Fear of rejection, fear of hurt, fear of failure, fear of being exposed for who we really are, fear of not being enough, fear of being too much. The things we fear are endless and the ways in which we operate everyday based on those fears are ongoing. On the other hand, if we invest in others from a motivation of love, it sets both us and the other person free to interact and respond without fear because perfect love casts out fear. To approach relationship being motivated by a genuine desire for the good of another no matter what, could transform the way we live our lives. Many times we don’t even know what we are doing. We don’t stop to think about what is behind the conflict, the words, the attitude, or the behavior.

What would happen if I could be completely satisfied in God’s approval of me and being centered in that satisfaction, I was able to respond to everyone in my life from a place of love, not to get love in return but simply for love’s sake. When I no longer seek approval from people, knowing that another person is not the verdict on who I am or what I am worth, then I am free to love people without seeking their love in return. There are no guarantees in life. Though it would be nice to give love only when we are certain that it’s safe or certain that the outcome will be love returned, that undermines love itself. Love, by definition is selfless, it doesn’t seek its own. If we wait to give love until we have a guarantee, we will never love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Observations From A Nightclub

One Friday night, with a couple of girl friends, I went to a nightclub. This particular establishment was a trendy place, 3 levels of entertainment and loud music, the kind where you can feel the bass in your chest. Due to my new year’s resolution that year, I didn’t have my usual Long Island Iced Tea that night.

We found our way to the lower level where the crowd had gathered. The dance floor and the bar were full that night. Although the club scene isn’t really my thing, I’ve had fun dancing in places like that before. Letting loose with the safety of a few friends can be a great beginning to a much-needed weekend.

Skanktastic. That’s the word I found to describe what I saw that night. Many men stood around with drinks in their hands, not dancing or trying to dance but rather just sizing up the view. Two scantily clad dancers were on elevated platforms showing the rest of us what we should look like. One guy went and parked himself in front of a dancer and basically salivated at her every move.

I’ve never seen so many creepy men in one place before. Maybe at other times it was just the same and I was oblivious, but that night I noticed. It felt like they were hungry dogs looking for a weakened one to take advantage of. It was a stage set for casual sex. 30, 40, maybe 50 pairs of eyes roamed every inch of the room. None of them wanted to engage in conversation but they lingered, looking for any female intoxicated enough to feed their hunger.

There was such emptiness in those eyes. Hollow, hardened and alone. I saw it on the faces of the girls there as well. Trying to escape reality and the pain of their lives, they only continued the cycle by falling into arms that they would wake to regret.

On that night, I felt like I experienced more than just an evening of entertainment, I witnessed the sorrow of mankind.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Happened Here?

Ummm... Rihanna... Who told you that was cute??

Kanye- Please, stop stealing fox pelts. There is only one Davie Crockett and you are not him.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Upside To A Downward Dog Economy

The economy sucks. Duh! It could be likened to the common yoga pose. It has its ass up in the air and its head is nearly touching the ground.

I opened my 401k statement yesterday from Q3 of this year and I found that I have lost 15% of my retirement funds in the past 3 months. Guess I won't be retiring any time soon.

Hold on one second... I have found a bright spot...

Driving home from work yesterday, I passed the local gas station that I frequent every weekend. My eyes blinked hard when I saw the sign. The price was $1.97. I live in one of the most expensive states in the union. Things in Connecticut generally cost more than most places in the country, except New York. So, for the price of gas to be under $2.00 here must mean that gas prices in other parts of the nation like, Iowa for instance, are probably close to $1.50 or less.

As GM is going down, so is the price of crude oil. Jed Clampett is in foreclosure. Elly May and Jethro are packin' Granny up and leavin' Beverly Hills. They are headin' back to the hills of Tennessee.

However, the Clampett's misfortune is this girl's ray of sunshine! This my friends, is the optimistic side of a pessimistic worldwide economy.

While my nest egg is cracking and oozing the green stuff onto the pavement, it costs me less to get to work than it did a month ago. This is a good thing considering early retirement isn't working out.

Deep breath... Namaste!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh! Hey...Can You See?

Have you ever watched a situation unfold from a distance and were able to foresee what was about to happen?

A couple of months ago I was in New York for a lovely Saturday afternoon. A friend and I had decided to sit for a while in Columbus Circle. Columbus Circle is a round a bout on the southwest corner of Central Park. In the center of the round a bout is a statue and a series of fountains. It’s a lovely spot to watch people, and traffic, if you are so inclined to examine circular traffic patterns.

On this warm autumn day, a little boy about 7 years old was there with his dad. The little guy started walking on the cement edge of the fountain, back and forth. Soon, he was leaning on the edge of the fountain and dipping his hands into the water, gathering all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that he could reach. After a while, there were no more coins within reach so he inched his body over the edge until only his feet were on the edge of the fountain and his body reached out as far as he could, without getting more than his arms wet. He picked up more coins. When I saw how this kid was finding new ways to reach and still continued to get the money that was just beyond him, I knew eventually he was going to fall in. I could see it. He was a little boy, curiously intrigued and pushing his limits. At one point he was on his tippy-toes. He wanted all the money in the fountain and he kept grasping beyond his reach. It was inevitable that there would be a splash. His dad didn’t seem to mind. Dad just let the kid clean out the fountain. Then, sure enough, his foot slipped and in an instant, his shoe was soaked. It was all downhill from there. The shoes came off and next, he’s wading in the fountain and sticking his hands in the streams of water. He gathered up every last penny with the help of a little girl who wanted in on the loot once she saw him get completely in the water. It was nearly dark when he left cold and soaking wet. There are many times in life when we get to observe from a distance. We watch friends make choices and we can see the things that they cannot. We see the ways that those choices are changing them, not always for good. We see the trouble they are walking into and consequently, the pain they will face because of it. We may try to shelter them or talk them out of it or help them see clearly but often times, our attempts to convey what we perceive, are useless. Many times a person we love will choose the path that they want, regardless of our levelheaded argument.

It takes equal parts of love, grace and compassion to continue to offer yourself to someone who knowingly walks into a dangerous situation; but that is what we must do. That is what Jesus continues to do for each of us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Verb Is An Action Word

–verb (used with object)
1. to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

The air is fresh. I can breathe again.
The unknown is not paralyzing. I observe with a serene perspective.
Unchained in my mind, I want to create again.
Though my circumstances cause doubt, I trust in what is unseen.
Believing in spite of disappointment, hope empowers life to find its step again.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Going Back To Find Today

This past week marked the 3-year anniversary of my move to the East Coast. As I realized that this milestone was upon me, I stopped to look back over the past 3 years. In some ways it feels as if it was only 6 months ago and then there are other times when it feels as if it has been 5 years or more.

I tend to measure time by way of significant relational and/or emotional moments. The past 3 years have certainly taken me down relational and emotional roads that I had never seen before and some that I wish weren’t so familiar.

Life tends to move in cycles.
The seasons, the tides, months, and moons all come and go time and time again.
It’s a love-hate thing for me.
Sometimes it’s easy to see what has come, go away again. Other times, well, it takes a little longer to pry my fingers loose.

So, I found it noteworthy that this week, as I completed 3 full years of living in a new state and having started a new life filled with many new experiences and new people, I find myself having come full circle.

When I moved, I found a place of contentment in exactly where I was. I found joy in accepting that regardless of the fact that my life had not turned out how I imagined it would, it was ok. I was ok. I stopped striving to stuff myself into the expectations that I idealistically dreamed up and allowed my life to be just as it was and I enjoyed it. I moved on November 3rd 2005 with an openness and optimism that filled me with peace. If things did not follow the outline I had sketched, I felt that it would be ok because I was taking risks and living, for better or worse.

Somehow, over the past 3 years, as I settled into a new life and found a new normality, I started striving again. I walked a path of trying to make my life into what I thought it should be and found myself continuously frustrated by the ways that I couldn’t make it work out how I wanted. I literally spent months with knots in my stomach every day. To use a phrase I heard on my favorite show, Grey’s Anatomy, I lost pieces of myself along the way. I unintentionally became preoccupied with what or maybe I should say, who was in front of me to the point of becoming consumed with getting to the result I thought I could foresee. If only I could reach a little farther, love a little louder and prove myself a little longer, then I would end up with what I wanted. Then, my life would look how I thought it should.

I don’t regret the process or the wrestling. Without it, there might not have been the growth that can only be forged in turmoil.

Today, I feel like I have found grace to return to that place of living rather than striving. I feel, once again, that even though life doesn’t look as I thought it would or should, it’s ok. I find peace and joy in developing the things that God whispers to my heart at the right time. I don’t have to get wrapped around the pole because I’m 31 and not married. I don’t have to feel like my life is passing me by because I haven’t experienced things that I think I should have by now. I don’t have to jump through hoops to get anyone to see me for who I am.

I simply must remember, to live from who I am. Today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time Will Tell

He's not The Messiah.

He's not the Anti-Christ.

Only time will tell what he really is.

For today, he's the president-elect.

Thank God the election is over!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I got jipped... they were out of stickers.

So, since I got robbed of the chance to tell the world that I voted from the collar on my sweater, I am givin' the shout out here.

I voted.

The end.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

So here it is… I donned a costume on Halloween for the first time in my life.

The most stressful part of the whole shebang was settling on a costume. I thought about taking Adam Sandler’s advice and being “crazy protractor beard” or “newspaper unicorn man”. It would have been easier.

Are you ready for this??

It’s scary and spooky…