Sunday, December 28, 2008

Asleep in the Light

What a day!

I'm house/dog-sitting for a friend in Liberty Lake. I'm also using his vehicle since it's 4-wheel drive and my car probably wouldn't have made it out here most days this week with all the snow. However, his vehicle has been giving me some grief and today was no different.

So, today was the 2nd Annual Blessings Under the Bridge Christmas Feast for the homeless and less fortunate of Spokane. I was hoping to get there between 9:00 and 10:00 am to help with set up but woke up to about 4 inches of snow that I had to shovel and clean off the car. Then I couldn't get the thing started - dead battery again. Was finally able to wave down a passing car to ask them for a jump start. I got on the road and was being careful to not rush. The roads haven't been great at all and although the freeway was mostly clear today, traffic slowed down to about 35 or 40 mph about 2 exits away from where I needed to go. So, I'm driving slow, keeping my distance from the car in front of me and I hit ice. I totally lost control of the SUV and fishtailed for what seemed like forever before spinning/skidding all the way around and finally coming to a stop facing on coming traffic in the fast lane. How I didn't hit anyone or anything, I don't know. It seemed like it all happened in slow motion and all I could say was "help me Jesus." After the next cluster of cars passed, I did a U-Turn and got back on the road, took my exit and got to the event about five minutes before 11:00. I was so shaken up and needed to get my mind focused on something else so I snagged a spot in the food line and got ready to serve.

What an absolutely incredible experience that was. I have no idea how many people we served today, but after a few hours dishing out pancakes, a friend got someone to relieve me of my position and we grabbed a plate of food and a cup of hot cocoa and sat down and started talking to people. The stories I heard today nearly brought me to tears. I found myself many times throughout the day struggling to maintain my composure. A woman who only a few short years ago was living right there under the freeway, a meth addict and prostitute had come to the end of her rope and prayed that God would either kill her or save her. She has been clean and sober for a few years and has totally turned her life around. A young man was standing by a heater with the most beautiful eyes told of leaving his family of "druggies" in Las Vegas and moving to Spokane, living at a men's shelter and looking for work. An older gentleman spoke of being divorced for the last eight after 21 years of marriage. He said he has grown children in California and a very well off sister living in Liberty Lake who don't even know he's homeless. He had to have his toes amputated due to his diabetes, then lost his job and got evicted from his apartment when he couldn't pay rent so now he's staying at the Union Gospel Mission looking for work and a place to stay. I walked up to an old trucker who was standing back from the crowd while he smoked a cigarette and drank a cup of coffee and just observed. At first he backed away from me when I walked up but after a minute or two, you just couldn't get him to stop talking. He had stories of his life as a trucker, his fiance at the time, owning his own truck and having a successful career. There were men who talked about Vietnam and prison; a young couple who kept going back to the clothing handout tables to get more socks and coats and stuffed animals for their baby; an older gentleman who this particular ministry was able to help get cleaned up - he was clean shaven, living in an apartment, helping spread the message of hope for almost a year when he found himself homeless again. It's amazing the shame some of these people live with... and the pride that some of the others still hang on to. It's also amazing - the strength and determination they possess - their will to survive.

I can't even begin to articulate how many thoughts and emotions welled up inside me today. I don't know what to do with them. I was so blessed to find quite a few friends and coworkers who donated items - blankets, winter gear, toiletries, etc. And I was completely overwhelmed to see most of the people in my small church show up to serve or just to "listen and love." There is something about finding a person, or group who have a passion and genuine love for other people. It's refreshing to see people from all walks of life unified for a cause. I don't understand how so many people can be so... detached. It's not because they aren't caring people, because I believe they are, but somewhere along the road, they have just become so numb to the suffering going on all around them. They have no sympathy, no compassion, no passion for these people. I understand that we all have different "mission fields," if you will. We all have different interests and areas that we are able to help others. Some people work better with the youth, some have a heart for the elderly... and there are many people out there who have a desire to help and reach the homeless or there wouldn't be so many soup kitchens and shelters, but it just never seems to be enough. Every encounter I have with one of these precious souls leaves me feeling like there is a storm raging inside of me. I want so desperately to help, yet I feel completely powerless. I doubt myself, my ability to minister to them in any way. All I can think of is that I am one mistake or set of unfortunate circumstances away from being in their shoes. There are times though, when I do get the opportunity to just sit there and listen and sometimes I almost feel like that is enough. Many of them do not want our sympathy. They don't want our religion. They just want to be listened to, heard, loved on... A song that I haven't heard in years came to my mind today. I felt convicted because although I do have compassion for a lot of the people on the streets, I also find myself judging them too harshly sometimes. And then there are many days that I give myself a nice pat on the back when I do a good deed and I think it's enough to hold me over for a while... But the job is not done!

Asleep in the Light
~Keith Green

Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord"
You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?

Cause He brings people to you door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
"God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
Cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on, get out of your bed

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

Don't close your eyes
Don't pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my love

Monday, December 8, 2008

Claustrophobic

I've been house-sitting since Thanksgiving. This will be the first night I've spent at home since. It's very difficult to go from a huge, 3-level home with big screen TVs, a laundry room, cozy sitting rooms, a fire place, a big back yard and a dog to my little shoebox apartment. I am feeling rather claustrophobic.

Or maybe it has less to do with the switch back to the shoebox and more to do with the state of my emotions.

Ken (the crush) and I have been hanging out a lot over the last month and have pretty much made things official this past week. Daily I swing from being incredibly happy and amazed by this incredibly funny, sweet, thoughtful man to being so restless and antsy I can hardly sit still. One minute I am on cloud 9 and can't wait until I get to see him again and the next, I want to turn off my phone, take some time off work and go on a long trip alone. When I'm with him, there is no place I'd rather be, but then after coming home, I fight the urge to call him and tell him I just can't do this... I adore him, yet I am terrified of him. Wow! I have issues.

Something my shrink said last week (have I mentioned I started seeing a shrink??) has been replaying in my head. She said that I'm a contradiction, but that it's because I desire connection, but that I also desire safety and that in my mind, those two do NOT go hand in hand. They are not related. The moment I start feeling a connection with someone, I feel very unsafe, vulnerable - and I run. Bingo!

Ken is amazing though. He says the sweetest things. He tells me daily that I'm amazing. I sent him a text the other day while driving home telling him the sunset was beautiful and by the time I got home, there was a picture in my inbox of the sunset "because I liked it so much." He asked why I was so guarded one day last week and I told him I was just feeling vulnerable and when I feel like that, I have to fight the urge to run. He responded, "silly goose, don't you know I can run faster than you. I'll catch you." He sent me a text checking up on me after my first shrink visit a couple weeks ago - just to see how it went. He remembers everything I say... he actually listens. John (the guy I was seeing late spring/early summer) showed up to poker one night and Ken sent me a text asking if I was going to be okay with John there. Then he says "not to worry, I'll get him out of the game soon." He asks if he can carry heavy items for me and when I say no, he smiles and says "you don't always have to be so tough" but he lets me carry it and doesn't argue. He tells me in quiet moments that I'm safe. When I told him I'm not a big cuddler/snuggler, he called bullshit, wrapped me up and pulled me close to him and I loved every moment in his embrace. He makes me feel so sexy, so feminine. He takes me on dates and is just the right amount of affectionate. He is consistent. I don't remember the last man in my life that was consistent. He is a giver. He is honest. He is vulnerable with me. He trusts me and says he feels safe and at ease around me. Some days I want to tell him that isn't wise. I want to warn him not to let his heart get involved because I will likely hurt him... But the moment I see him sign on the computer, or see that I have a text from him or see him in person, most of the fear melts away and I can't stop smiling and I just want to wrap my arms around him and melt into him.

Enough for now... I'm just confusing myself even more. Time to put away clean laundry and make my bed and try to stay put in spite of the restlessness I am feeling. Okay... let's be honest - I wont stay put. I'll probably ignore all that needs to be done and watch a movie or leave the apartment to go get food and maybe play the late poker game. I just need to get out of my head for a bit.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for family - biological as well as those friends who have become my extended family.
I am thankful that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, forgives me and daily shows me his grace & mercy.
I am thankful for solitude to decompress, de-stress and relax.
I am thankful for this journey and ALL that it entails - good times and bad, sickness and health, joy and sorrow, beauty and pain.
I am thankful for a full life - rich in experiences, full of love...
I am thankful for THIS moment.
I am thankful for YOU - and for this safe place where I don't have to "weigh thoughts or measure words." I can just let them flow, without fear of judgment or broken trust.

I am off in search of pie - or a hot seasonal drink...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lovely

What a lovely evening. I so didn't want it to end...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Laundry Day & A Welcome Distraction

Laundry day. Laundry facilities are in the basement. Storage unit is also in the basement. Needed to organize storage unit to make room for more boxes, my window AC unit and other stuff I wont need this winter. Storage unit = boxes I should not be going through = memories I should not be stirring up = the uncontrolable urge to get as far away from this apartment and those boxes as possible.

I grabbed my laundry and came upstairs to my apartment and lo and behold - an invitation via instant message... from my crush... to come over for Survivor & CSI (tv night). As soon as I hang my laundry, I'm grabbing a bottle of wine and heading over. This will be a pleasant distraction from some painful memories... (what was I thinking opening that damned box?! It's clearly marked...)

I did find a quote from a movie (can't remember which one at the moment) that I had written down on a little yellow piece of paper about 9 or 10 years ago... It was very meaningful to me at the time - and it struck a chord again today.

"True love can not be found where it does not truly exist. Nor can it be hidden where it truly does."

Peace! I'm outta here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crush

So yeah... my totally ridiculous school-girl crush and I talked for almost 5 hours on messenger this evening. Whoa! And it was deep, serious conversation...
So - needless to say, I accomplished absolutely NOTHING I was supposed to do tonight. Another day of no clean laundry & a mess house. Crap - I have to at least clean up a bit since the property management is coming in tomorrow to test the smoke detectors.

Another late night... but oh so worth it. I needed it - today was not a great day at work. Very - VERY stressful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crushing

I have a totally ridiculous school-girl crush. Yep. That's right folks. A harmless, silly, immature crush.

Not to worry - I'll never tell him. He is, after all, one of my buddies. We play poker and cribbage together, drink together and text message each other all day long to alleviate some of the boredom and make the days go by a little faster.

It's kinda fun because I simply don't care how he feels in return. I don't need him to like me. I don't feel pressured to feel strongly for him. I can just enjoy his company and the lightly flirtatious banter and keep it uncomplicated. I really like uncomplicated.

Outsider

Seeing a picture of my baby nephew with his humongous cheeks and beautiful, heart-warming toothless smile.

A beautiful toddler reaching out her arms to me, wanting to be held after taking a fall. And her huge grin when I swung her around.

A little girl, walking down the street in her plaid skirt & beanie - long curly hair bouncing with each step - holding tightly to her daddy's hand.

A young girl with a punk-rock-ish style dancing to the music on her ipod as she walked along - seemingly oblivious to the rest of the world.

Waving at a passing firetruck and all four young men inside craning their necks and waving back with big smiles.

A group of guys standing outside a sports bar, laughing - taking a break from watching football to have a smoke.

A middle-aged couple dropping another couple off at their car - warm, friendly embraces all around before parting ways.

A woman opening up to me, a stranger, about the stress and weariness from being her mother's caretaker - who clearly was so desperate & grateful to have someone listen to her.

An elderly lady in the passenger seat of a car - holding her little sweater-clad puppy.

The toothless smile of an old, homeless man with the greatest smile lines around his kind eyes.

These are things that made me smile today. I wish I had my camera to capture each of these moments. I wish I could have stopped and talked to each and every one of these people in depth. I wondered about their lives, their families and even what their day would hold. Were they happy? Were they strong? Do they know how much they are loved? Why were they where they were in that moment?

Life is so beautiful - at every stage - from the toothless smile of an innocent baby who has yet to experience heartbreak, love, joy, sorrow, failure, success, shame, pride, loss or gain to the weathered smile of one with a lifetime of these experiences. Sometimes life is so unspeakably painful and it's hard to see any beauty through the smoke and ashes. Sometimes life is chaotic - there seems to be no rhyme or reason, no consistency or continuity, no symmetry or sense. Sometimes life is simply a mess. But from the right vantage point, with the right perspective, it all comes together and makes sense and is truly, breathtakingly beautiful.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes...

Rough week at work - lots of stress, layoffs, uncertainty and more stress. It's been one of the toughest weeks I've seen since I started this job almost 4 years ago.

I came home to write, unwind, declutter my mind & untangle my emotions. I was feeling pretty low and felt like crying... or drinking heavily... or medicating in some other unhealthy way.

Then Amanda calls to see what I'm doing. Her 2 1/2 year old daughter, Sophia, says something in the background.

Amanda: Honey, just a minute, I'm talking to Sandra - she had a bad day.
Sophia: I talk to Sanna
Amanda: Okay - here ya go.
Sophia: Hi! Sanna?
Me: Hey Sophia! How are you?
Sophia: I love you Sanna!
Me: (choking back tears) Awww... I love you too Sophia!
Sophia: I in choo-choo train... Pancakes.
Me: You are?? Are you at Frank's Diner?
Sophia: Yes. Fwanks. Choo-choo train. Um... Sanna?
Me: Yes honey?
Sophia: I love you!
Me: Thank you. I love you too.

How sweet is that? Seriously - Obviously God knew I needed a little pick me up and exactly who to send. I love that SGB!!! She lights up my life more than she'll ever know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

From the Archives

After a particularly rough day, one of my favorite things to do is run a hot bubble bath, light some candles, put on some music, pour myself a glass of wine and just soak. Today was one of those days, but by the time I got home it was late and I almost put it off for another day. Then I was reminded that I need to make time for simple pleasures. So... I did. I made time. Who was I trying to fool? It's not like I would have fallen asleep anyway.

While sitting in the tub, glass of wine in hand, I was reminded of something I wrote a couple years ago, so I dug it out of the archives, dusted off the cobwebs and decided to post it. It fits tonight (except my hair color has changed.)

The bathroom door stands open, long chestnut brown hair cascades over the end of the claw-foot tub. Her arms rest lightly on the sides. Painted toes... Her long, tan legs, crossed at the ankles, heels resting on the faucet, look lean and defined in the warm glow of flickering candlelight. Legs bent at the knees, water droplets slide down to where her strong shapely thighs disappear into the white gardenia scented bubbles. Her body enveloped in the foam. Her cheeks rosy and lips plump from the hot steam. Her neck, shoulders and collar bones glistening, just a hint of her ample bosom visible as her chest heaves with every deep breath.

Relaxed, she stares at the ceiling as the sultry voice of Norah Jones drifts through the air. The lyrics unheard as thoughts fill her mind. Weary from the person she has to be, she disrobes of the strength, confidence, bravado that she wears all day. She tries to rid her mind of the confusion, jealousy, sadness, stress... He occupies her thoughts.

Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Her eyes closed, her lips turned up in an ever so slight smile. As she slowly opens her eyes, a deep, dark sadness shows in the windows of her soul. Lying there in the bath, she feels feminine, sexy, beautiful. Yet she is fully aware of the raw emotion just under the surface. She is hot. Passion surges deep within. She is ready. Affected. It is wasted. Alone. She is naked, vulnerable. She aches. The emptiness and solitude is suffocating. Inhale. Hold. Exhale.

Oblivious to how much time has passed, she stands up, rinses off the suds and wraps herself in a soft towel. As she steps over the edge of the tub, she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. What she sees in her eyes is almost unbearable to look at. She slips into a black sheer robe and walks to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of wine. Knowing that she only wants to numb herself before she falls asleep, alone in her bed, she stops, sets the bottle down and fills a tall glass with cold water instead. She knows she needs to feel.

Most days she enjoys her life, cherishes her freedom and independence. She tells herself that she doesn't need or want a man in her life. She is a free spirit, spontaneous, carefree. Most days, she is sincerely content alone. Yet, tonight she avoids the grocery store and the kitchen for there is no sense in cooking for one. Tonight, the moon senses melancholy.

She slips off the robe and crawls into bed, between cold sheets. As she lies her head on the pillow, she curls her legs in and shivers for a minute until the weight of the comforter warms her. She longs for the feel of his strong arms drawing her into his chest, holding her, protecting her, as she drifts into a peaceful sleep. Instead, she wraps herself around an over-sized pillow and allows her heartache to overtake her. She will not sleep well tonight, but she has become accustomed to the restlessness that defines her.

She'll awake in the morning, put the walls back up, cover up the wounds and robe herself with strength, humor, confidence and compassion. She'll make everyone around her feel important, supported and loved, focusing on them instead of collapsing into herself. She knows she'll be a little stronger tomorrow night.


How I wish I could paint (or sculpt)...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lost in the Clutter

I've had a lot on my mind and I'm having a hard time sorting through the clutter. The only thing that generally helps me sort through all the clutter in my head and the aching in my heart is writing. Yet, I've been distracted and when I do have time, I don't know where to start. It all seems to want to flow when I'm sitting at my computer at the office with a little free time on my hands, but since they are now monitoring everything we do on our computers at work, I refrain. I don't care if they see me on other non-work-related sites because my job is flexible and they know they are getting far more than the 8 hours a day I get paid for. As long as the work gets done, my boss doesn't care what I do, but I don't necessarily want them to read my blogs. It's the one place where I can say what I need to say - get it all off my chest - without worrying about it being used against me or thrown back in my face.

I've felt incredibly lonely lately. I miss my family. I miss the sense of belonging. I miss the feeling of "home." A friend pointed out recently that I never call anywhere "home." I talk about visiting my family or going to Juneau, but I never call it home. I'll say I am at my apartment or that I have to run back to my place for something, but never call it home. "Where is home?" he asks. I don't know the answer to that.

I went to dinner last night with "L". She and her husband recently separated and she was talking about how wonderful she feels and how well she's doing. We talked a little about marriage, relationships, re-entering the dating world, etc. She said that she can't imagine herself in a relationship for a very long time because for the first time in her life she is learning about who she is and what she wants. She says she will never settle again. She has not yet experienced a weak moment or loneliness... That deep, sad, excruciating loneliness is sometimes enough to break even the strongest person and tempts them to settle for good-enough. I've been teetering myself for quite some time. Never thought I'd see the day...

After dinner, the waiter brought the check and I paid with my card. I noticed midway through signing my name that I was signing my married name. I've been divorced for over 4 1/2 years and changed my name back to my maiden name over 2 1/2 years ago, but here I was signing Sandra Rollings... Oops. WTF? Where did that come from? I haven't accidentally signed my married name in God knows how long. I tried to laugh it off, but it really bothered me. Let it go, Sandra... Just let it go...

Men - I have my share of crushes... even people I'll allow myself to go on a few dates with to get to know better, but who all eventually end up in the friend zone. There are the men who stay fairly close to me so that when my heart does become available, they're there to try to be the first to capture it. Then there are relationships I've had in the past who all seem to be resurfacing at the same time. "B" moved back to Seattle from North Carolina and is trying to reconnect. "M" is calling me almost daily lately, begging me to come to Sacramento for Thanksgiving - even offering to pay half my way. Even "M" has resurfaced with all of his addicting qualities. Thankfully "J" is keeping his distance.

I miss sex. A lot!!!! I've even tried to reason the justification of a friends with benefits scenario that has been offered. I'd be lying if I said this isn't tempting me. Yes me! The strong, independent, stick-to-your-convictions girl that I am... I'm tempted to have "meaningless" sex with someone I trust simply to satisfy a physical need... or desire. If there were truly a potential future relationship prospect in my life right now, I don't think it would be as bad. I'm one of those that has to be in a committed relationship with someone I respect, trust and LOVE before I give it up. I've been taken advantage of and I've felt the emptiness of going too far with someone I didn't love and both are horrible feelings that I don't care to re-live. Sometimes I wish I could be a sex-is-just-sex girl. But I've never been that girl. I do believe it's worth the wait... and I KNOW I'm worth waiting for... but I'm definitely having a moments of weakness lately.

So much more on my mind still, but I'm in pain and need to go find a muscle relaxer... and then I need to clean cluttered room. :) Anything to get my mind off S-E-X.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

I am disappointed (though, not surprised) by the election results this evening... gut-sick actually.

I know that nothing happens that isn't already known by the Creator, but my heart is grieved that someone who so boldly and openly supports some of the very things that God abhors is about to become leader of our great nation. God help us all...

And God help Obama... No better time than the present to start praying for our country and protection and wisdom for our leaders. It's going to be an interesting four years and although I am hoping for the best, I must admit that I'm worried. But you know what? At the end of today... and at the beginning of tomorrow - God is STILL God! He is STILL in control...

I am looking forward to things quieting down now. At least there will be no more campaign commercials and posters everywhere. Soon, the high will wear off of the Obama supporters and we'll be back to business as usual. Chaange is coming... And when it does, we will adapt. I have no doubt that some of it will even be much needed and good change. But I believe there are some changes for the worse coming around the corner faster than we know.

On the positive side, history has been made. Our country has come a long way from the grievous acts that were the norm even just a few generations ago. That is progress. My dislike, or rather mistrust, of Mr. Obama has nothing to do with his race. It has everything to do with his politics, his agenda, what he stands for as well as my own convictions and gut instinct about him. I have no respect for the decision to vote for or against someone simply because of their gender or the color of their skin.

And on that note, I must try to get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wedding Date

A little over a month ago, I received an invitation to a friend's wedding. When he contacted me for my address, I was more than a little surprised to hear that he was getting married, even though for as long as I've known him, he's wanted to get married (this is the 3rd girl he thought he was going to marry in less than a year). Even so, when I talked to him in June, he was very bitter about his most recent break up from another friend of mine (just a month or so before that) and had not even met this new girl yet [Red Flag 1]. Apparently they met and started dating mid-July. I told him I couldn't wait to meet her and suggested we all go out for dinner or a glass of wine or something (trying to be the supportive and accepting friend). He was very hesitant and indicated that would only be possible if I brought along a date. He didn't want to have to field questions about me or for her to be jealous of our friendship and he figured if I was there with a date, she would be less likely to question him [Red Flag 2]. I expressed my concern that this would even be an issue seeing as how we never dated or had a romantic relationship. His response was that since he used to like me and pursued me for a while before finally believing I was only interested in friendship, he didn't want her to know that because it may make her uncomfortable around me [Red Flag 3]. My opinion is that all that ALL of our past, good and bad, has helped shape who we are today so if someone falls in love with who someone is, although they may not approve of everything that person has done, they should recognize that it's because of all those things and people and events that they are who they are. Still, I agreed to find a date for our meeting...

Fast forward a couple months - the meeting still has not occurred. The invitation was sent to Sandra and Guest. I stopped by his office and he made it clear he would really appreciate it if I brought a date - not one of my girlfriends, a guy friend. A week or so ago he asked who I was bringing and I told him I would likely come alone because the last couple guys I've hung out with are no longer around. He seemed cool with it and said he'd just sit me with some of his single guy friends and it would all be fine, but he found it hard to believe I couldn't talk one of my "many guy friends" into attending with me.

Today I sent him a text message to confirm the date and time since I was updating my calendar but didn't have the invitation with me. Again he asked who I was bringing and again I told him I'd be coming alone. He said to bring a date – just a guy friend – I told him I didn't have any guy friends who like attending weddings for people they know, much less someone they don't know. His response: "Rent one then."

Um… wow! First of all, I know he'd be upset if I don't go. He's made that clear. But he'll also be upset if I don't bring a date because of the very minute possibility that his wife will ask questions about me. She's going to be so overwhelmed and wrapped up in the wedding plans and everything else going on, that she probably wont notice or even remember me. I know it's their day and things really should go how they want it to go and it's not about me, but I find it unfair and unreasonable to make me feel bad for not bringing a date or choosing not to attend at all. I feel like nothing will make him happy unless I show up with a guy. I'm torn. Do I simply tell him now that I regret that I won't be able to attend? Or do I tell him I'm bringing a guest and then show up alone with an excuse that something came up last minute and my date was unable to make it?

This is the first time someone has intentionally made me feel bad about a solo RSVP. For the first few years after my divorce, it really bothered me to receive invitations to Sandra & Guest because I hated saying I would be attending alone. And now that I'm finally comfortable doing anything and everything alone, I feel obligated to bring someone. Blech! Stupid! I'm irritated.

Anyone know of any classy escort services? I don't need to get laid, I just need a frickin date to a wedding!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn

After spending Friday evening chilling out at home with my couch-surfer, talking and swapping travel stories, we called it a night around midnight. I slept surprisingly well, seeing as how there was a strange guy in the next room - but he was very nice, easy going and I felt at ease around him.

Saturday was a wonderful day! We decided to go to breakfast, but two of my favorite breakfast spots were so busy there were lines out the door. So we hit Frank's Diner on the North Side for an amazing, huge breakfast. Adam had never had huckleberries or apple butter so he tried both. Then we went to Greenbluff as they have their Apple & Harvest Festivals going on this month. At the Harvest House, I introduced him to pumpkin donuts and caramel apples (he'd never had either) and we each had hot apple cider and sat on hay bales listening to a really bad cover band, but had fun making fun of them and people watching. He took lots of pictures of the pumpkins, the children's hay maze and the fall colors. He was like a kid in a candy store, wide-eyed and excited about all of it. Then we went to Simpson's where we wondered through acres of apple orchards and picked apples from the few trees that hadn't already been picked clean. Since no trip to Greenbluff is complete without a wine tasting, we tasted a couple wines at Harvest House (I love their Christmas Cheer wine mixed with mulled cider - soooo good!) and then I took him to Townshend Cellars for more. I love it when I recommend something and someone really enjoys it. Seemed he liked most of my favorite Townshend wines. Yay!

We decided to skip my friend's Halloween Party and come home for an afternoon siesta before heading out to Hauser, Idaho to do the Haunted Corn Maze. Unfortunately, when we got out there, the line for the Haunted Maze was 2 hours long. So we did the other 3 non-haunted mazes instead. Still, it's pretty spooky being lost in a maze of corn stalks 10+ feet high, especially since the later it got, the less people we'd run into. We actually completed all three, found all the markers we were supposed to find and left around 11 PM tired and cold, but happy.

It was the perfect autumn day. The weather was beautiful - blue skies, fairly warm weather during the day, but a chilly evening. Pumpkins. Apples. Cider. Wine. Hay bales. Corn mazes - not to mention the incredible fall colors. All the orange, yellow & red leaves on the trees and covering the ground... I love this season.

Adam left this morning and thanked me for everything. He had a lot of firsts during his visit. He smiled a lot so I think he really did have a good time. Funny though - we are so different in so many ways - we covered all the taboo topics - sex, religion and politics and we disagree on most controversial issues - but we got along famously and had a wonderful weekend. I love being able to have open conversations with people who respect your stance, even when they disagree. Lately with all the political stuff going on, that is rare.

In other news... Yesterday at Townshend Cellars in Greenbluff, I noticed a guy noticing me... and he was very attractive. Every time I glanced his way, he was looking at me and he'd smile when he caught my eye. It was strange - for a moment, I could see no one else in the room - just him. As our eyes locked, everyone else seemed to disappear. Then I snapped out of it and noticed he was there with a girl and another couple and that he was wearing a wedding band. Damn! Later in the day, it was brought to my attention that an ad was posted on Craigslist's Missed Connections... the ad described me perfectly - what I was wearing and who I was with. He figured it was a long shot but asked if I would respond with where I was sitting when he walked in and what he was wearing. I did respond, told him I was with a friend, where I was sitting and told him that he was wearing a wedding ring standing by a blond girl. He responded saying that he was shocked that I even saw the ad and responded and confirmed that it was in fact a wedding ring but that he just wanted me to know that he thought I was beautiful and that there was something in my eyes that attracted him to me and he had a hard time looking away.

As flattered as I am, I'm disappointed that I'm still attracting the usual suspects... the unavailable. I'm curious to know if it's me - am I putting out vibes that attract people who are married, who live out of state or who are single but emotionally unavailable (hurt, bitter, healing). I just don't understand it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Two Words

Two small but very significant words... The addition of one and the elimination of the other from my vocabulary over the last year has impacted my thoughts, feelings and attitude for the worse.

Word 1: Can't

The more I use this word, the more I believe it. "I can't seem to get ahead." "I can't do anything right." "I can't get out of debt." "I can't find a decent man." "I can't find a better job." "I can't do this." "I can't afford that." "I can't have the life I desire." "I can't win." "I can't..." "I can't..." "I can't..."

Incorporating this word into my daily vocabulary and thought process has robbed me of my joy and hope, destroyed my confidence and left me feeling consumed by despair, discouraged, incomplete, depressed, lost, cynical, undesirable and worthless.

Word 2: Yet

A word indicating persistence and hope while still allowing one to be realistic and honest about a current situation. "I don't have the life I want YET." "I am not out of debt YET." "I haven't found my dream job YET." "I am not YET able to afford that." "I'm not whole YET."

During a blunt and brutally honest conversation with a dear friend a few months ago, I poured my heart out to her about how hopeless and worthless my life felt. After listening to a tirade of all that I can't do and don't have and am unable to offer, she simply whispered the word "yet." She reminded me that although all those things may be true in this moment, it doesn't mean this is the way it will always be. There is hope - but I must be persistent. She also reminded me of the power of my words. The tongue holds the power of life and death.

When I start noticing despair creeping back into my life and my attitude plummeting, I have to listen to what I'm saying (or not saying, as the case may be). I've never been a very negative person, but lately I've had to stop myself, check my vocabulary and make a conscious effort to choose words of hope.

It's been a rough year - the darkest I've seen. There have been moments I've felt myself sinking into an abyss so dark I lost all perception of even which way was up. They say the darkest hour is just before dawn and though this night is not yet over, I'm looking forward to the morning, knowing the sun WILL rise again, the shadows WILL be illuminated and I WILL feel the warmth of the sun on my face once again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Friendship

Often misattributed to George Eliot, the following quote by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik in her book A Life for a Life (1859) is a favorite of mine and has been stuck in my head for a couple days.

"But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject, with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort -- the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person -- having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

I pray that someday, I become the type of friend, trusted and capable of doing just that. And though I know I have been blessed with people in my life that love me deeply, I hope someday that I will experience that comfort of "having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words" with someone - and truly allow them to know all of me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Christians: The Greatest Cause of Atheism

I was playing poker last night with a bunch of guys that I'm just now getting to know a little and somehow, the topic of Christianity came up. Stories were shared about our experiences with Christians (I think 2 of us at the table are believers) and how so many people are turned off by Christians and their judgmental attitudes and hypocrisy. One of the guys (the other believer) mentioned that he believed the saying that "the single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians."

It reminded me of something that happened to me a couple weeks ago. I was at an Irish Pub, standing outside on the patio talking to people. I did not have a beer in hand, was not intoxicated (though I had consumed probably 2 beers so far that evening). I was just standing there talking and laughing with a group of people. A gentleman who was walking down the street approached the patio and started talking to a guy he knew. Then he saw me and for some reason, pointed at me and began telling me that I was in sin, that I have power and that I was leading others astray. I stopped, questioned his statements and asked how he could make a judgment like that of someone he didn't know and who didn't even have a drink in hand. I told him that I was a Christian and that I love God and although I will never profess perfection, I try to do the best I can. He said that by even being in a bar, I was a hypocrite and by drinking anything with alcohol, I was in sin. My first instinct was to argue with him that Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine and that he was often judged for the people he hung out with and loved - common people, sinners. Others were standing around listening and I have to say, my spirit was grieved. This interaction between two totally different people, both proclaiming to be Christians, both with completely different view points and approaches had to be confusing. I ended up biting my tongue, choosing not to argue and walking away.

The thing is, nothing I can *do* will be enough. It is only by the grace of God that I am saved. But that being said, I also know that because most people have a certain perspective of Christians and what they should and shouldn't do, I am probably often viewed as a fake. I don't live by the "don't drink, smoke or chew or go with the boys who do" philosophy. I do drink. Quite a few of the people that I consider friends and many people who I hang out with are not believers. It is not uncommon to find me in a bar - playing poker, listening to karaoke, hanging out with friends, having a good time.

There is a balance though. The rest of the quote that the guy at the poker table referenced is: "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." ~Brennan Manning

I am nowhere near perfect. I struggle with sin daily. Some days I lose the battle. I am a hypocrite. Not intentionally - I believe one way and would love to be strong enough to ALWAYS live a perfect life and rise above, but my actions do not always back up my words. I am not perfect. I will fail. I will disappoint you and God. I will not always live up to the standards that I have set for myself or that others hold me to. I will fall. But I guarantee you this - I will get up again and again and again and keep trying, keep perservering, keep learning until I reach the finish line.

Until then, I hope that my heart speaks louder than my words or actions. I hope that my lifestyle reflects LOVE first and foremost. I hope that in my humanity, I am not causing someone to stumble or turn away from God and Christianity. I hope I'm not a cause of atheism.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Losing Faith

"I'm pregnant." "I miscarried." "I'm getting a divorce."

That's all I seem to be hearing lately. It's sad. Four women in my office have gotten pregnant this year, three have miscarried, including one of my best friends. Three people in my church have gotten pregnant in the last few months, two have miscarried. My little sister (age 19) just found out she is pregnant...

Divorces seem to be as rampant as miscarriages... Two of my close friends are going through it right now. One has been married for just over 2 years, the other has been married almost as long, but this is her 2nd divorce. How do you not lose faith in marriage when everyone around you is getting divorced?

I feel like I'm losing faith in a lot of things - losing hope all together. Depression sucks - you can't fake yourself better.

Friday, September 5, 2008

When Harry Met Sally?

I am pretty sure I've touched on this topic in the past, but I don't feel like scanning the archives so I'll bring it up again. Not like I expect a response, but input is always appreciated...

Can men and women really be platonic friends? It's a question that was brought up continually throughout the movie When Harry Met Sally.

Just when I think - YES!!! Women and men CAN, in fact, be platonic friends, the male friends in my life start proving me wrong. I have a friend who has been a wonderful friend to me over the last [almost] four years - and he just confessed to me that he has always felt that I was special (duh! just kidding) and that he wishes things were different. I visited him when John and I went to the coast in May on our skydiving trip and he told me today that he was so disappointed that I was with John because he was very excited when he found out I was in his neck of the woods and he really wanted to spend some one-on-one time with me.

He was concerned that by telling me this, I'd be freaked out, but I'm not. I'm just kind of sad. I'm trying to decide how to react. Do I back off - I mean, I share a lot about my life with him and he reciprocates. I've known a couple of his girlfriends and he has met a few of the men who have actually had a place in my life. We talk openly about a lot of things, though I am still pretty guarded about others. So I just wonder how this relationship will change. I don't want to encourage any strong feelings from him or strengthen them in any way. But I also don't want to lose a friend for whom I care very deeply.

Crap... you know - I think WOMEN can be friends with MEN, but MEN can't be friends with WOMEN...

In other news - I'm struggling with some stuff I don't have time to write about... Your prayers are coveted.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lessons

WHEN SOMEONE SHOWS YOU WHO THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM!!!

Why is that such a difficult lesson to learn?

Because I want to believe the best about people. And I want others to believe the best in me, regardless of what I am showing them.
Because I'm afraid people will see who I am, the things I've done, my weaknesses - and they'll hold it against me.
Because I believe in giving second chances - and third, and fourth, and... because I've been given more chances than I deserve.

I have learned to guard my heart (okay, so it's practically Fort Knox) so that when someone fails me, it doesn't affect me so deeply. I'm not saying this is the best way of dealing, but right about now, I'm grateful for my walls.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Too Many

Maybe I really am too picky... Or maybe they guy I'm looking for simply doesn't exist... Or maybe he does, but just not in Spokane.

I know I shouldn't complain. I've been getting a lot of male attention lately. I haven't ever really had a problem meeting them, but for so long, they were all married, homeless, or old enough to be my dad. Then for a while they were all married, homeless, old or lived out of state. Lately, they are single/divorced, gainfully employed, between the ages of 30 and 40 and local. Some are attractive and fit, others - not so much. Couple of them have kids. All of them lately seem very nice, intelligent, talented. A couple of them are looking for something long term and serious and see me filling that role in their lives. One of them seems to like me a lot, but due to a particularly painful divorce and a lot of issues he's had to overcome and the fact that he has young children, he has no interest in a serious relationship. He intends to stay single/emotionally unattached - but is still very open about his attraction to me.

Last night I went to a wedding with a friend from Juneau. She has family in Liberty Lake and her nephew was getting married so she brought me along as her "hot date." I had a great time at the reception and met a lot of great people, including a handful of single men. Vicki was trying to hook me up with her brother, then this other guy she knew, then the groom came over and told me that another guy wanted to meet me and a few others approached me too. Vicki's sister made the comment that I could have any guy I wanted... If she only knew.

Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered by the attention and the compliments, but I don't want any of those men. They all lack the one thing that is the most important to me - a relationship with God. I've always felt that was the one thing I don't want to compromise on. I've dated a few guys who were not Christians and it really does make a big difference. I don't judge a guy for not being "religious" or for having different beliefs than me, but if I'm going to eventually fall in love with and marry someone - it's important that we are on the same page about the important things in our lives. It's difficult to not give up hope that this man exists and will eventually be brought into my life. It's hard not to just compromise and be with a man who is attractive, intelligent, successful, wonderful and who cares deeply about me. I wish that were enough for me. Lord knows these men have women standing in line waiting for a chance - most single women in this town would do anything for the attention of a couple of these men.

I'm getting a lot of pressure or "advice" from friends who tell me to just go for it and have fun. Stop over-thinking and just go with the flow. It doesn't mean I have to marry the guy, but just date him for a while. This is another concept I can't really grasp. I've always felt that dating is ultimately looking for your mate... If I already know someone doesn't have the most important quality I want in a man, why bother going down that road at all? I'm just confused and frustrated and tired of being alone. I do have high standards, but I feel myself weakening - ready to just give up and settle... not good.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Confidence

Everyone has their own opinion on what is sexy. I think confidence is always sexy. There is just something about being comfortable in your own skin that draws people to you. Last night, a friend's band was playing at Pig Out In The Park so I sat on the ground to listen and people watch while enjoying the warmth of the early evening. As I was sitting there, I noticed a gal walk by. She was heavy set, wearing jeans and a little tank top with the skinny straps hanging off her shoulders, a sports bra underneath. So, this totally wasn't my idea of sexy style, but she had this little strut going on and a sassy little sway of the hips. You could tell she felt good about herself. A few minutes later, I noticed an older woman dancing by herself, totally comfortable dancing alone. Then there was a homeless man playing the air drums with such vigor. He couldn't contain himself so he dropped his back pack and just started dancin'! All around these people, there were others watching them, rolling their eyes, making disgusted faces, pointing and laughing. It's as if they didn't even notice though. They just kept doing their thing. Kudos to them.

It's such a stark contrast to most people I see. There are so many people who are constantly fidgeting, adjusting their clothing, nervously twirling their hair, shoulders hunched, head down. People who are never the first to laugh at a joke or step out on the dance floor or order their food - they follow along to make sure that what they are about to do is met with the approval of their peers. Then there are those with a false air of confidence. They are loud, trendy and stylish. They hold their head up high and strut around like they think they are all that and more. Or they use humor to deflect attention to things they don't want people to see. But if you look closely, you can see something in their eyes. It's this thin and transparent wall trying to hide so many fears and doubts. They try to appear confident and sure, maybe many people are fooled into believing they are, but look close enough and you'll see they are far from it.

I think it's safe to say that we all have things about ourselves that we don't like. We all have flaws and insecurities. But on those days when we are able to accept ourselves for all that we are - the good and the bad - and love ourselves without depending on anyone else to validate us; when we are confident in WHO we are instead of what we have, what we look like or what we can offer - those are the days we are most beautiful and sexy.

My wish for each of you today is that you are able to accept and LOVE yourself. Just for today, forget about that crooked nose or those extra 20 lbs you can't seem to shed or the way you snort when you laugh. Forget about the zits, the moles, the scars, the wrinkles... Forget about your thrift store clothes or trying to make sure every last wild hair is sprayed into place. Forget about all your insecurities. If the music moves you - let it *move* you! Get out there and DANCE! If you find joy or humor in something, throw your head back and LAUGH - loud and long - don't hold it in. If you've got a song in your heart, SING it. Don't hold back. And lastly, if you see something in someone else that you like, tell them. Don't worry about how they will take your compliment or if they'll question your motives - just tell them. Sometimes it's those small, seemingly insignificant words of genuine kindness or sincere affirmation that make someone's day. If you think a guy is attractive, tell him. If a girl has a great smile, let her know. And watch how your words transform their face.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunrise

I saw the sunrise the other day for the first time in a long time. It felt like a punch in the gut. Every time I see the sunrise, I am reminded of God's faithfulness. He set the sun in place and the earth in motion and every day the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It does not depend on us. We don't sit around as the sun goes down at night and worry that it wont rise again. We don't have anxiety over it or spend countless hours praying that God will not forget us tomorrow. The sun always rises. And we simply trust that it will.

But that is a good thing, right? So, why did the sunrise feel like a punch in the gut? Because every time I am reminded of God's faithfulness, I can't help but to revisit my own unfaithfulness. And though I know I am forgiven, I can't help but to feel a twinge of guilt and a sadness knowing that I have disappointed my Father. I know he loves me in spite of my failures, simply because I am his daughter. That, my friends, is what keeps me going. That is my only hope for the future.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Little of This, Little of That

I just finished reading a book that has really made me re-think the way I view God. It is The Shack by William P Young. It's a pretty quick and easy read and I highly recommend it.

A friend of mine just found out she is pregnant. She hasn't had it confirmed by the doc yet, but all the home pregnancy tests are positive. Seems a little too early for me to get excited for her, but I can't help it. She has wanted another one since her youngest was born - and he is six years old. She approached me about 3 or 4 months ago and asked if I would pray for her. She asked if I would pray that either she would be able to have another baby, or that God would take that desire away from her if it wasn't in His plan. I hope for her sake that everything goes well with the pregnancy.

I think I have a date this week. This guy I know has been trying to get me to have dinner with him for a while now. I finally agreed so we are supposed to set something up later this week. We'll see if he follows through. My hopes are NOT up. He's a nice guy though - owns a couple restaurants and bar on the South Hill.

I usually dread checking my mail because practically all I receive is one bill after another after another... Today, I got mail from home - my little brothers all sent their artwork - I'm amazed at their artistic abilities as I can hardly draw a recognizable stick figure. :) It's nice to have some new artwork for the refrigerator. I also received a card from my mom that made me cry. She sent me $10 and wrote that I should go have a cup of coffee and just imagine that she was here drinking it with me. She is so generous. Most people I know give out of their wealth, but my mom gives out of her lack. She doesn't have money and they hardly have any material possessions. But this is who she is. She gives what little she has to someone she thinks needs it more than her. She's given all her furniture away to people who didn't have any, figuring it wasn't a big deal if her and her family had to sit on the floor and eat, instead of around a dining room table or on couches. I haven't always liked that about her, but I know her heart and I pray the Lord blesses her in return. Here is a picture of my mom and all 11 of her children...
Mom (in back), Zackary, Sandra, Heather, Caleb, Litiana, Siga Tabu, Ilaijia, Evan, Cagilaba, Saula & Serau


Well, I'm off to tidy up the apartment before my couchsurfers arrive tomorrow or Wednesday. But I'll leave you with a picture from this weekend since I haven't posted many lately.

It's Jessie, Shannon & Meeeee

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I am tired... and sore. I went camping this weekend out at a friend's place up on the Pend O'Reille River. I think there were around 30 or so people who showed up and most of them pitched tents, but left fairly early this morning. I went tubing and oh my gosh my whole body hurts. It was so much fun though - until the rope broke. Most everyone was drinking pretty heavily, but I was pretty good. Had a few beers and maintained - but didn't get drunk and I think I was the only one who wasn't hung over this morning. I'm glad I didn't over indulge. It is a little difficult being the only sober person in the crowd. All the drama... not to mention how LOUD people get. I didn't get to sleep until around 3:30 this morning and was up by 7:30, then fell back asleep around 8 for another hour and a half. Not great sleep between the noise and the hard ground. I'm pretty sure there was a root or something right under my hip. Between that and the tubing... I think I need some tylenol.

I purchased and actually wore a two-piece bathing suit. That, my friends, is a first for me and a huge accomplishment. I've always been very modest and very self conscious of my body. I would never dare to wear a two piece, but I found one I actually liked and decided to just not even worry what anyone else thought...

In other news - I really need some prayer for tomorrow. I've got some things going on and I need favor and grace... So if you pray, please remember me tomorrow.

I'd write more but I'm exhausted and think I may fall asleep any minute.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Catch & Release

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them!" It's a quote I use ALL the time, so why is it that I can't seem to follow my own advice (yet again)? I give chance after chance after chance, always giving them the benefit of the doubt - and EVERY time, it's the same result. Isn't that pretty much the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?

I know that part of it is that I have been shown so much grace and been given so many chances that I feel I must pay that forward. I forgive seventy times seven, but I still don't let most people back in. I have huge trust issues and those who have broken it have a long road to travel to earn it back. I can build a wall around my heart in the blink of an eye and offer friendship without letting someone too far in.

But with John, it's different.

I feel like I'm stuck in a continuous game of catch and release. He throws out his line & bait (his smile, those dimples, those eyes, his charm, words, kisses and the good times) and I bite. The man compliments me like no one else ever has with comments about my life having the fragrance of Christ, or seeing Christ in me, or how rare it is to find a woman with a heart for God. He comments on my compassion, my commitment to my family and friends, my ability to love and forgive without reason, the grace and mercy I freely offer. Those are the things I want people to see in me - not the superficial outward perception of beauty that fades (not that I mind a superficial compliment from time to time, mind you). Once he has me hooked, he reels me in and although I fight a little, he always wins. And as soon as he gets me to the point where I accept and even welcome and anticipate my fate and this relationship, suddenly, he decides to let me go. His reasons are always the same, yet different. He isn't ready for a relationship, for commitment. He is still in love with the ex-wife and wants to see his family restored. He wants some time to just figure out who he is and what he wants... he wants his freedom. He throws me back - although it's always kind of begrudgingly because he knows there are others out there, trying to lure me with their bait. He doesn't like it, but he knows it was his choice to let me go. However, he always keeps an eye on me and before long, he's after me again. It's like he forgets what attracts him to me when I'm around and as soon as he throws me back, he remembers again.

I feel like a dumb fish. I *know* what he's going to do, yet I give him so many chances. How long until I'll be strong enough to resist the bait and just swim away? I try so hard not to get my hopes up or have any expectations of him because I know it will only lead to disappointment, but if I'm honest - my hopes and expectations are up. I say that I'm guarding my heart, but the truth is - that is easier said than done. I've already let him in.

I've been trying to just float - to resist the urge to run away - but I can only sit in this vulnerable state for so long before I will be forced to run for cover.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Secrets

"Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets." ~Paul Tournier

Friday, August 1, 2008

Relapse

I served at the Union Gospel Mission on Tuesday night and saw a familiar face. I met this guy (about my age) a little over a year ago. He was in one of their recovery programs, addicted to meth, separated and headed for divorce when his wife found out she was pregnant. He checked himself in and has made amazing leaps - huge progress. He has been clean for a little over a year, was able to reconcile with his wife and then a few months ago - moved out of the Mission and back home with his wife and kids - one being a newborn. He's found direction and purpose and has been doing great. Every time I serve, I look for him and not seeing him is bittersweet. Sad for purely selfish reasons - he is encouraging, uplifting, inspirational, kind and full of love and life. Happy though, that he is out of that place and doing well. Tuesday I saw him standing in line for food and my heart sunk. There was a sadness in his smile and I knew he had relapsed. He got to my station (I was serving dessert) and asked me to stick around to talk after. I did.

Turns out he and the wife have been having some trouble lately and he just kept trying and trying. He was doing everything he could in his own strength, but he wasn't going to God, praying, seeking direction. After a while, it got to be too much and he relapsed. He turned back to his old method of dealing with stuff... it was just once - but that was one time too many. He's back at UGM, his wife is furious and wont speak to him or allow him to speak to their children. This, he imagines, must be very hard on their little girl who finally got used to him being in her life again. They had their bedtime traditions - books, singing together, praying together and him tucking her in... bedtime was their time. Now he's gone and she doesn't even get to talk to him to hear that he still loves her. I can't blame his wife for her anger. I'm sure she feels hurt and betrayed. It's just a bad situation for all involved.

My heart is broken for him. I know all too well the unfaithfulness to our God and our convictions. I know all too well turning to a vice for numbness or some temporary high. I know all too well the feelings of guilt and shame that can so easily entangle and weigh you down. I know all too well the lies that the enemy feeds you about being unworthy of another chance, of grace, mercy, forgiveness, love. I know all too well that feeling of sinking, drowning, losing hope.

I just wanted to throw my arms around him and tell him I didn't judge him, that I could relate. His vice is meth... mine is... well, it's different and will remain unnamed. We talked about God's love and forgiveness... that His mercies are new every morning and that His love endures forever. It's so much easier to believe that for someone else. He is determined to climb out of that hole again. I hope to God this is the last time he'll have to. I look forward to the day when I don't see him during my visits to the Mission - until he is the one serving others, ministering to people who are where he has been.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random Thoughts from an Insomniac

I get a "Word of the Day" email every day. Today's word made me laugh. It's sesquipedalian (ses-kwuh-puh-dayl-yuhn). It means "given to or characterized by the use of long words; long and ponderous, having many syllables; a long word." Fitting.

Mom told me today to be careful... she felt like she needed to let me know that she's been praying for me. She also said that often times, the wrong person comes into your life just before the right one does - so just be careful.

Went to a Spokane Indians game today. In the parking lot, I pulled in next to these two young guys and the passenger got out of their car first since it was kind of a tight squeeze between our cars, then he shut his door and opened mine for me. Um... weird. I'm all for chivalry, but that was just an odd thing to do.

A friend made a very bizarre and somewhat disturbing request of me today - after a very open and transparent conversation. I told him I'd pray about it, but I think I already know the answer is no.

My Kryptonite contacted me this week after another long bout of silence. I want to be free of him. I want to move on. I want to forget I ever met him and the mistakes I could have made (and those I did make). But yet, I don't. I miss him more than I've ever missed anyone.

My brother in law talks to me more than my own brothers and dad combined. I love my b-i-l, but that realization today kinda hurt my feelings. Thankful for Josh though... he's trying to explain fantasy football to me. I signed up this year on a whim and have no idea how it works. :)

I'm hosting girls night tomorrow. My house is a mess and I haven't slept much all week. Not sure when I'll be able to either. Have to get up early tomorrow, work all day, stop by a wine tasting, see a friend in town, then be home in time for Girls Night - which will likely last late into the evening. Saturday I have a birthday party and another friend in town.

I am confused about the status of my "friendship." I've not felt I needed a definition until now. Preparing myself for distance.

I just want sleep... peaceful, restful sleep... If I fall asleep now, I'll get 5 hours of sleep.

Oh yeah, I forgot I have to pick up a coworker from the airport tomorrow at 8:00 AM.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Social Anxiety

Confident. Strong. Fearless Free-spirited. Self-assured. Outgoing. Friendly. Approachable. Social butterfly.

These are words that are often used to describe me. It's not just friends or people I've known a long time that see me this way. It's also complete strangers and people I hardly know.

I was recently invited to attend a 30th birthday party for a gal I met through a mutual friend a little over a year ago. Over the course of the past year, we've discovered that we have a couple other mutual friends and I've had the opportunity to meet quite a few people in her circle. A few of these people are a lot of fun and have welcomed me with open arms. After debating whether or not to attend this "Black & White" party, I finally decided to go, threw on the only black dress I own and pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant right on time.
Before my hand even reached the key in the ignition, I was overcome with
anxiety. All these thoughts flooded my mind. I'm too fat. I'm probably overdressed. This dress is too low cut. What if I don't have anyone to talk to? I'm not interesting enough. No one will like me. I'm an outsider. I don't belong at this party. I know L & S, but they will probably be too busy with their other friends to talk. My hair isn't cooperating. I should just leave.

I quietly scolded myself for these ridiculous thoughts and reasoned that this fear was totally irrational. These were wonderful people that I've always had a great time with and the few that I know well love me for who I am, not what I look like. And as for the rest of them, who cares what they think? I meet people every day and some like me and some don't and I usually don't let it affect me either way.

I sat in my car for probably 15 minutes arguing with myself. I even started the car a few times and put it in reverse, only to put it in park again and chide myself for this ridiculous behavior. But I couldn't bring myself to open the door. As I was dealing with this internal struggle, I watched as other party guests arrived and walked inside. Some were dressed very casual, only affirming my fear that I
would be overdressed. But then there were others who were dressed much nicer than I, making me feel like I was underdressed or not classy enough. I finally refused to continue the battle with my fear and decided that if I left, regardless of the many excuses I could get away with, I would always know that my fear won. That simply wasn't an option. I opened the door and walked in. Immediately, I was greeted with warm smiles, hugs and tons of compliments. I was introduced to people I hadn't met and ran into a few I had. A few even walked up and introduced themselves to me and spent much of the evening by my side.

People don't believe me when I tell them I suffer from social anxiety or that I'm really a shy person. I can't tell you how many times this sort of thing has happened to me though. And it's not only when I'm attending an event with people I don't know well. Heck, a few years back I went through the same thing in a parking lot outside of a coffee shop where a musician friend of mine was playing a small show. I knew at least half the people there, but still, the fear set in and I had to fight it all night.

Like I said, it's a completely irrational and unfounded fear. I know that in my head, but in those moments, it overwhelms me and I just want to run. Even the times that I stand up to it and force myself to walk in and talk to people, someone will always comment on my confidence. If they only knew...

I guess it just goes to show that what we see in someone isn't necessarily truth. Our perception of others is often inaccurate. Don't judge a book by its cover. You never know what someone is dealing with on the inside. We all deal with fear, feelings of inadequacy and question our self-worth. We all want to be loved, desired and accepted.

So, to all of my friends - thank you for your acceptance. It probably shouldn't matter to me so much and you may not even think I care, but obviously it does matter and I do care - probably too much.

I can already feel the next battle beginning. I've got to go buy a swimsuit and talk myself into a camping/boating/floating trip in a couple weeks and I'm already feeling nervous. Not to mention tonight - a BBQ at a fellow Couch Surfer's house for all the local CS members and I won't know a soul. I'm looking forward to it... but with butterflies in my stomach.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Magnetic

What is it about a person that draws others to them? Where does the magnetization come from? I've been told, both that I am approachable and that I am intimidating. So, which is it? Is it really something about a person, or is it something deeper – something spiritual?

Last night as I was standing alone on a foot bridge over the Spokane River, watching the orchestra play on the floating dock and waiting for the fireworks show to start, a man approached me. He and a friend had been standing a few feet away and I could tell by the corner of my eye that he was watching me. Finally, he walked up to me and asked if I knew what time the show was supposed to start. I answered him; he introduced himself and started up a conversation. He told me my eyes looked very sad and asked if I had a rough day. I was not in a good place emotionally and frankly, I didn't want to be bothered. My body language was unmistakably indicative of that fact. My answers were polite, but short, one or two word answers as I kept my eyes on the orchestra up the river. Finally, he asked if I'd like to go do something sometime. I simply said no.

At that point, I expected him to walk away, but he kept talking. Turns out he is a Christian and after a long life of doing his own thing, messing up his life and losing the things that mattered most, he finally decided to turn his life around. He was going to church, preparing for a missions trip to Africa and happened to know someone at my church. That was shocking since I've never met anyone who has ever even heard of the small church that I've been attending. Still, I did not want to talk to this man. I was so deep inside myself, drowning in my own emotions and self pity. I remember thinking that this is not the way that I am supposed to be. I'm supposed to be a light in this dark world, a beacon of hope, an encouragement. Yet, I couldn't muster even a simple smile.




He asked again if I'd like to go out sometime, again I responded with a simple no, thank you. Then he tried persistently, to give me his number, saying that you never know when you'll find yourself in need of a friend, but I would not take it. I bluntly told him I'd never use it and I wouldn't change my mind. I told him not to take it personally and I was polite, but wanted to get the point across. He kept trying. Finally, the fireworks show ended and I shook his hand, told him it was nice to meet him and walked home.

What are the chances, of the thousands of people watching fireworks in the park that night that I would meet someone who is a Christian, who actually knows people I know and the church I attend and who shares some of what is in my heart as far as a love for people and heart for missions and worship? His story, his life... even the annoying persistence… he'll never know that he at least planted a seed of encouragement that I so desperately needed that night.

Isn't it interesting how God can use a complete stranger? I'm ashamed of my own inability to even fake a smile or offer a kind word back to this gentleman. Am I really that dried up, that drained and empty? Yet, he wasn't discouraged. Wherever you are, Shawn, thank you for reaching out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fighting... Losing

It's been a rough year. One filled with countless lessons in humility, close calls, unfaithfulness to my Lord, discontentment, depression, anxiety, restlessness, hopelessness and financial distress. In fact, just a few short weeks ago, I found myself wishing the Lord would just take me home. Why does he always have to save me in those close calls? Why couldn't I have fallen off that cliff or been hit by that car that ran a red light and came within an inch of mine? I feel like everything I touch crumbles, I fail at everything I try and I hurt those I love the most. I'm a hypocrite and fraud. I've been angry at myself more than anything else and have felt unworthy of any good thing. I've felt so indescribably low, in utter despair, completely alone and lacking the will to go on.

Yet, I do go on. I told a friend the other day that I'm fighting the fight, and losing. But that truly is a step above where I've been. At least I'm fighting. I was starting to think I didn't have any fight left in me.

I never thought I'd make it to 30. Always thought I would die young. I know that sounds morbid, but it's the truth. I've had a lot of close calls in my short life, and they seem to have multiplied significantly over the last few years, thus encouraging that thought process. However, I am still here. And I have to believe that there is a reason. I tell people all the time that every morning that they wake up, every breath the Lord grants them, it's because they still have a purpose on this earth. I have to believe that for myself. I just wish I knew what that purpose is. The Bible says that where there is lack of vision, the people perish. That rings true for me. When I feel like I am not serving a purpose and I don't have a vision or goals for my life, I feel lost and empty and that sets me on a downward spiral.

I should never allow myself to get to the point I've been in recent weeks - the point where I've lost all hope. I have allowed myself to become empty, trying unsuccessfully to fill the void in my life with things that just leave me feeling more unsatisfied at the end of the day. Why is it so easy to encourage other people, instill hope and believe the promises that God has given them? Yet, I doubt God in my own life - even though He has proven Himself time and time again. It makes no sense.

Well, I could keep writing, but I have to get some work done. I am hoping to get some time this weekend to decompress a little. My goal for to day is to simply remember to be thankful - to redirect my focus to all that I have been blessed with and have a heart of gratitude.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meat & Potatoes

Conversations lately have left me feeling validated, satisfied and encouraged. No surface bullshit, but real stuff. Substantial. Meat and potatoes... Not all pleasant, mind you... but all REAL.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Okay

Back from Juneau. Did NOT run into the ex. Purposely avoided the one party I knew he'd attend - more because I wanted to spare the rest of the attendees and the guest of honor unnecessary awkwardness, than because of my own feelings. Weird, but I kind of wish I would have run into him. I think because I'm curious how I would have reacted. I still hold on to this hope that some day we'll talk again and genuinely be happy for the good things in each other's lives.

It was good to see the family. My newest nephew is so adorable! And the rest of my nephews and my niece are all growing so big. They are beautiful kids. I miss my family a ton, but there was, of course, family drama and it exhausted me. All the job offers and pressure to move back were flattering, but exhausting as well.

A few conversations have left me very contemplative and introspective. I will save those for when I've had a chance to make some sense of them in my own mind and heart.

Something is wrong with me... deep down. I'm not sure exactly what. it is, but I'm not okay and I can't seem to hide it. Even with a smile on my lips, my eyes never lie and those who actually have taken the time to look at me today have noticed. Nothing has helped today - not coffee with a man who adores me, not lunch with my 3 favorite women, not even a good hard run on the treadmill...

Maybe it's time to do a little reading / meditating and then go to sleep.

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's Independence Day!

May we celebrate not just our country's freedom, but also our personal freedoms as well.
Be Free! Live! Soar!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

High

I took Amanda skydiving on Saturday for her birthday and our friend Nate came along too. I should have known that once we arrived, I wouldn't be able to say no to the temptation of jumping myself. My second skydive and I can't wait to do it again. I need a second job to support my new habit... maybe I'll go to the school and get certified.
My head is all screwed up lately...

I'm going home in 11 days for a little over a week. It'll be good to see the family...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thank you.

To the people in my world who have had an unforgetable impact on my life...

Interesting how our natural tendency, when we feel alone, misunderstood or undeserving, is to withdraw even further from those who have been placed in our lives for friendship, support and encouragement. We are called to bear one another's burdens, so fulfilling the law of Christ (Galations 6:2). We are not meant to walk through the valleys of life alone. Every day I hear people make excuses for not going to church – the most common being that you don't have to go to church to be a Christian. That's true. Being in a church building doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car! But that isn't what it's about. It's not about an obligation or ritual – it's about surrounding yourself with other people on the same journey. It's about coming alongside each other, encouraging and building each other up. It's about lending a hand to those who have fallen or are stuck, giving a boost to those who are trying to overcome a hurdle, or just grabbing their hand as you walk next to them, showing them they are not alone. It's also about reaching out when you are the one stuck in the muck or climbing that mountain. It's a place of worship, peace and sanctuary and ultimately, a place where our little flames join together to provide warmth and illumination for those in this dark, cold world.


I'm so good at distancing myself when things are tough, making every excuse in the book why I don't want or need to surround myself with other believers, but the Word says that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). It also instructs us not to forsake meeting together with other believers, but to encourage each other even more as we see the Day approaching. So, for all of you in my life who have taken care of me, lifted me, pushed me onward, walked alongside me in silent support, loved me, encouraged me, prayed for me, instructed me… Thank You! Thank you for not letting go; for not letting me slip through the cracks or sink in the quicksand, but for reaching out and grabbing me and bringing me back. Thank you for not allowing me to go through the dark hours alone, but for allowing God's light to shine through you to light the way for me. For all of you who have rescued me in some way at some time, I am eternally grateful to you and I hope I am able to return the favor, if ever needed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Juggling

I don't even know where to start or what to say, but I feel all bottled up and ready to explode and I need an outlet. I have a million thoughts running through my head and I haven't had a chance to just get them out and sort through them. Yuck!

And I'm so tired. Work is crazy for me this week and tomorrow I'm volunteering with Habitat for Humanity at 7:30 AM after a 6:30 AM breakfast. I have a morning shift at Habitat, then have to go to the office and take care of last minute plans for the Investor Update Meeting on Friday. I can't work late tomorrow because I'm taking John and his 3 kids to dinner for his birthday. Something tells me that will be draining. Friday, I've got to be in Coeur d'Alene by 7:15 AM to make sure all is set up and ready for the big meeting.

I feel like I'm juggling so much right now - at work and in my personal life - and I'm afraid I'm going to drop something.

I've let my guard down a little too far and I'm paying for it emotionally.

I need some time on the road - alone, this time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Captured

Funny how the captured heart feels so free. Yet the heart that is let go feels imprisoned in a dark, cold and lonely place.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blessed

I am so blessed. The last couple of months have really been enlightening as far as relationships go. I feel very blessed to have the friends that I have.

My birthday was last week and I have to say, I've never felt so loved. My girlfriends spoiled me! Lots of gifts and even a surprise dinner party with my favorite girlfriends. A certain guy friend went above and beyond as well, sending a gorgeous bouquet of my favorite flowers and then taking me on a weekend roadtrip to go sky diving.

My heart hasn't felt this open and happy in a long time. But today I feel the old familiar warning to guard myself again. People are getting too close and it's making me uncomfortable.

At the same time, I am trying to live in the moment and not sabotage my own happiness earlier than necessary. I truly am blessed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trust Broken

Already? So soon? And of all people to dish to - him? Really?
Lesson learned... yet again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Babies

My brother-in-law sent a new picture of my nephew today. Little Jonah is already fitting in nicely with the rest of the family. This is a common expression among the Ziegenfuss and Mahle clans.



Also, my best friend's wife had their baby this morning around 8:30AM. She was due on my birthday (next week), but little Lydia Jean Boman just couldn't wait any longer.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Trust Issues

To say that I have trust issues would be the understatement of the year. In fact, there is no one, not a single person, in my life that I trust implicitly. Friends who have known me for years, people I consider my closest friends don't know so much about me. I prefer it that way. The less they know, the less they can use against me later and the less they can "accidentally" let slip around others, judge me for or even use as an excuse for their own behavior. When they find something out, they often wonder how they never knew that little fact about me. The thing is, I keep a lot to myself, but I talk enough about other things that they think they know me pretty well. It's not ONLY because of how someone will react to those little tidbits of information, though. If it's something bad, something I'm ashamed of or a sin - I have already repented of it and have moved on, God has already forgiven me and forgotten about it, so why should I dredge it up just so someone else can "know" me better? So, when certain topics come up that I want to avoid, I usually change the subject and turn the spotlight back on that person. People like to talk about themselves so it's usually an easy escape.

One of my closest friends is an open book (about most things). She tells me a lot about her life in a very matter-of-fact way. She could tell me she was dying of cancer or that she had murdered someone or that she won the lottery or was sleeping with the president, but she'd say it in the same way she would inform me that she went to the grocery store today. Like it's not a big deal, it just is what it is - bring on the consequences. No emotion, no embarassment, no shame, no doubt or concern in how I will react. Sometimes I wish I could be like that. It's as if she really doesn't care what I think of her... or maybe it's that she simply trusts that this information will not change my opinion of her and that I'll keep my mouth shut about whatever she tells me.

It's not that I feel like I live a life shrouded in secrecy, but I am very selective about what information I divulge and to whom. I think if everyone who knew me got together and compiled all that they know about me, you might be able to see a pretty close to complete picture... but then again, there are things that no one knows... things that could possibly change a lot of people's opinions about me. So, in letting them believe whatever they believe they know about me, am I being dishonest? Is an omission of the truth the same as a lie?

At any rate, over the last month, especially, I've been attempting to be more transparent and trusting. It is very difficult. Today I shared information with a friend and as soon as the words left my lips, I regretted uttering them. I have felt an unshakeable feeling of dread. It's the same feeling I get EVERY time I open up and let someone in - even a fraction more than before. I wish I would have been able to get out of the conversation, but I felt backed into a corner. I was asked a question, point blank. No warning, no way out. And the thought of lying to her made me sick so I blurted out the truthful answer.

As much as I pretend to NOT care what others think about me, I do very much. This one little instance probably doesn't change anything in my friend's mind, but if certain other people were to find out the same little tidbit of information, it would be a huge deal to them. As a matter of fact, there seem to be a lot of situations lately that I feel I have no choice but to trust other people. And it's the most uncomfortable feeling I've known in a long time.

And then there are the trust issues as they relate to men and relationships. That is a whole other topic all together. As a friend of mine once said, "You have Jericho built around your heart."

So, do I go back to my old ways and just keep everything locked up inside where no one can be close enough or know enough to hurt me? Or do I continue on this journey of transparency, and in doing so, allow people I care about to have the opportunity to earn my trust and really get to know the "real" me?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Newest Love

Sunday afternoon, my sister, Heather, had her baby. Little Jonah Wade Mahle made his grand entrance around 4pm Alaska time, weighing in at 8 lbs, 13 oz. and measuring 21 inches long. Apparently he's got huge hands and feet, but all I've seen of him so far is his fat little cheeks. I can't wait to meet him when I take a trip to Juneau this summer.

Funny how you can love someone so much that you haven't even met yet. My heart is so happy I can hardly sit still. I'm so proud of my little sister. She's a great mom!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Never allow someone to be your PRIORITY while allowing yourself to be their OPTION."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Date

Sometimes I just want to be asked out on a date.
Even if it is *just* a date.

I want to dress up, put on some make up, be picked up, go to dinner in a quiet restaurant, sip some wine, have an intelligent and stimulating conversation, laugh, have the door opened for me, maybe a few slow dances, be dropped off and maybe even get a goodnight kiss on the cheek and a hug.

I don't want to pick the place, pick him up or pay the bill and have him walk me to the door only because he has some unreasonable expectations or wants (tries) to stick his tongue down my throat.

Do any men move slowly anymore?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Where is your focus?

Okay, so my thoughts are all over the place today. It’s been a week that has provoked a lot of deep thought. This may seem like one heck of a rabbit trail, but bear with me. Sunday, I went to church with a friend. At this church, there was a special speaker and he talked about a lot (most pastors love to talk and can get pretty long winded), but what struck me the most was the simple truth that we spend so much time focusing on our sins, our struggles that it’s all we can think about… Don’t do this, don’t do that. Rules. Regulations. Legalism. It’s like when you are on a diet, all you can think about is food. When you are trying to be a "good Christian" all you seem to notice are the temptations and your failures. Our perspective is all wrong. Instead of focusing on the sin, struggles, temptations, we should simply be focusing on God. The more we meditate on Him and WHO HE IS and his love and goodness, the more we want to be in His presence. It’s like we get tunnel vision and all we care about, all we can see is Him. The more our eyes are on Him, the more we start to change and become like Him. Sure, we’ll still fall from time to time – we will never achieve perfection – but we’ll notice that these sins and temptations that once consumed us are no longer such a struggle.

I was talking to another friend today who has recently gone through some pretty major failures. He is being judged, his character called into question and outright defamed. He hears and reads all these horrible, malicious, slanderous statements about himself and it’s really taking a toll on him. He just wants to put the past behind him and move on, but finds it impossible to do so because everywhere he turns his sins are being thrown back in his face. There is no grace, no mercy, no forgiveness from these people he once called friends, many of them Christians. He will never be able to undo what he has done, but he’ll also never be able to grow and change if he lets his shame keep him from accepting the grace and forgiveness that is freely offered by Christ – the One who already paid his debt IN FULL. He’ll never grow as long as other people and their opinions distract him. I told him to focus on God, to keep his eyes GLUED on God and not on his circumstances, not on his past and not on other people and what they think or say about him. He retorted that it’s easier said than done. Trust me - I know how hard it is. I have spent a lot of time training myself and choosing EVERY DAY to live my life for an audience of ONE.

Speaking of focus and distraction, I went to a church service Tuesday night and they had this human video. Most of you churched people know what that is, but for those who don’t, it’s kind of like a silent play – done to a song. I’ve always thought they were so cheesy, but this one really spoke to me. The "video" starts out with Jesus and a girl. They walk through life and He shows her things, opens her eyes to who He his – and she begins to trust Him and they dance. As they are dancing, a handsome man walks up with a rose in his mouth and steals her away on a dance of their own. She becomes so wrapped up in him that she doesn’t see Jesus trying to get her to come back or be included in that part of her life. Soon someone else walks by with this wad of cash in his hands and as she pushes the man with the rose away, she starts snatching up money and following the guy that’s handing it out. Then a gal walks by with a tape measure – measuring her, judging her, motioning that she’s too fat, her hair is all wrong so she follows her for a while. Then comes a guy with a bottle and offers it to this girl. They eat, drink and enjoy the high and then come the pills… The money is snatched away, leaving her with drink and pills that she quickly consumes. She is alone until someone else walks in and offers her a way out – suicide. She is at the end of herself, nothing to live for, she’s lost it all and is ready to pull the trigger. All the while, Jesus is crying, trying to her attention – but each person (temptation/distraction) that comes and goes in her life push Him farther and farther away. Somehow, she remembers Him and looks back. He holds His hands out and she jumps up and tries to get to Him, but the people who are standing between her and Jesus thrash on her. They block her from getting to Him, they throw her around, push her to the ground, beat up on her. When she calls out to Him, He jumps to her rescue – finally given her permission, he picks her up, brushes her off and embraces her… and they begin to dance again.

Wow! How many times are we distracted – by love, lust, family, careers, others opinions, substances, people, "friends?" Not all of these distractions are bad things, but it’s easy to put them before our relationship with Christ. How often do we push God out of our lives and only when we are at the end of our rope do we call out for Him? I am guilty – countless times over. It’s not usually as dramatic as this little production, but rather a gradual, subtle process. He’s a gentleman though – he will never force Himself on someone who doesn’t want Him in their life. But He’s always there – waiting patiently, wanting to be let back in – wanting to be our partner in this dance of life.

Lost?

As a 20 something (30 next month) who was raised in the church and youth group, a friend’s blog kind of hit home today and brought on this thought process (thanks Jon). The church has ministries for children, youth, college age, young married, married with kids, over 40 singles, senior groups, Mothers of Preschoolers, Moms in Touch, Promise Keepers, recovery classes, etc. I’ve always thought that ministries directed toward the 22 - 35ish (especially single) age group are lacking. Maybe I feel that way because I’ve spent the last 4 years single and the last 3 1/2 years in small churches where I just don’t feel like I can find a "fit." That being said, I think part of it has something to do with the lack of interest by those in this age group. We’re a generation of lost souls who don’t even know we’re lost. We fill the voids in our lives with everything BUT God. We pursue relationships, careers, money, travel and experiences and can’t seem to find the time or use for church or God. We climb the corporate latter, only to find that we can never really reach the top. The more money we make, the more we spend and find ourselves increasingly in debt so we reach for that next rung thinking that we’ll find a position to help us make more money and get ahead. We spend so much time at work that we don’t feel we’ve balanced it well enough with a social life so to unwind, we start going out having a few drinks with the coworkers or friends. We hit coffee shops, bars, clubs, concerts and all sorts of other venues to escape the loneliness and quiet of an empty home – and call this having a social life. We want to enjoy life while we are young so we turn into a bunch of traveling addicts and thrill seekers, always chasing the next high. Then we get tired of not having anyone to share these experiences with and the thought of going home (or on vacation) alone again is not appealing so we look for substances to numb us or relationships to complete us. But where do we find like-minded people our own age? Finding someone at work is usually discouraged and besides, it seems most of them are married anyway. Some look at church, bars, events or online dating services with no luck. When we do find that certain someone, we expect physical intimacy to fill this big gaping hole in our lives, only to find that instead of feeling complete, we are left feeling even more empty and lost, thus causing the epidemic of short-lived and unfulfilling relationships and more sexual partners than we can remember. Yet, we still don’t see our need for God. We don’t realize that it’s a "God shaped hole" that nothing else can fill. We tell ourselves how much we love the freedom of our lifestyles, always busy, always succeeding, always on the go, always running from the subtle nagging thought that there has got to be more to life than this.

My question is not WHO is going to reach these people, but HOW do you reach a people that refuse to admit that they are lost?....