Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I Can't Be Knee-dy

I have no idea what happened. 

One day all was well with the world, and the next, Gimpyville. I did something to my knee, and for the past two months, I've been limping around like a wounded gazelle. 

A very rotund, wounded gazelle.

Did I see a doctor? Sort of. My clinic card expired, and until it's renewed, I just have to wait. But I went to friends who are professionals in the field and asked them what the heck I did to myself. The verdict was the same. 

Tendinitis. Oh Joy and Rapture.

Normally I heal up faster than a level 20 cleric (for all you non RPGers out there, that's cheetah-fast), but this time it's a little different. This thing will take months to heal, and that's if I behave myself.

(insert maniacal laughter here)

I am a wife, mother, and caretaker of our home. You know behaving myself isn't in the picture- I'm not sure it's even possible.

Food needs to be bought. Dinners made. With four people and three cats, houses need cleaning. Sure, my husband can help with some of that, but he's also a deacon at our church, which means he has two full-time jobs on his hands already. As for the kids? They do some, but my daughter volunteers three times a week at a therapy horse ranch, and doesn't get home until almost bedtime during the week, and my son...well, let's just say he needs more motivational yelling than I have the energy for. 
My gimpy self can get the job done faster instead of telling him how to do it. Aspergers my left ankle- my son knows how to work the 'chores of the house' system like a boss. When I need him to do anything, he disappears upstairs like Houdini, and is sneakier than our cat Boo-Boo when he gets a Panera Orange Scone. Poof! Gone. For hours. Without a peep.

I've learned I can put up my leg and still cut veggies for dinner if I set up everything on the living room coffee table, while watching reruns of Gilmore Girls. Depending on the meal, I can get everything cut and ready to cook in only one or two episodes. We cook in bulk, so that's a lot of veggies and meat! 

Sometimes I get a break and can rest as I wrap and ice my knee. Sometimes, like yesterday, I consider getting a peg-leg and becoming a pirate. Shopping at not one, but two warehouse-esque stores does not to a body good! Thank God for shopping carts that act as walking sticks with baskets attached- otherwise they would still be trying to pick my gimpy butt up off of the floor at Sam's Club.

Did I mention that Restaurant Depot had an awesome deal on boneless chicken? Did I mention that you can only buy said chicken in forty pound boxes? Did you also know that I'm willing to ignore my stupid knee whilst putting two of those forty pound boxes on my cart, because the deal was just too darned good to pass up? 
I now have enough chicken to feed a third-world country- but I can't stand upright long enough to cook it. Knees are funny that way when you tick them off. Good thing I have a deep chest freezer. 

For the chicken, not the knee- although I did consider laying it in there for a bit.

As a mom/wife/homemaker, I can't be knee-dy. There's more to do than can ever be done (do I hear Lion King music?), and even if both kids were available full-time, I still couldn't cross off my entire To Do list. I don't think any family woman could, even with two good knees. And that's surprisingly comforting.

For now I will persevere with wraps, ice, prayers, and what rest I can snag until the clinic paperwork comes in. As for dinner....Gilmore Girls, anyone?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Believe God

Words are interesting things. You can twist them to make others laugh, compare them to make others think, and by just adding one extra word, change the entire meaning of a sentence.

For instance- we Christians believe in God- but do we believe God?

Big difference!

Many people believe in God- even demons believe in God- in fact, demons freely admit believing in God in the Bible! But do we all believe God? Do we trust in Him and follow Him through faith?

Well...not always.

I believed in God for years before I believed Him. Even now I stumble and wind up doing things my way because I'm impatient- the problem is the stew God is preparing for me needs to simmer, not be microwaved. In an instant society, we are brought up to expect bigger, better, faster- and more often. But God wants us to immerse ourselves in Him, soak Him up slowly, and est in His promises.

But we're too busy living life to slow down and absorb all the flavors that are God's grace. 

Just microwave my Jesus please, with a little Holy Spirit on the side!

It's not easy slowing down. It's certainly not easy believing God when there are so many 'get fixed quick' ideas out there in the world, both real and digital. Too many things to distract us from our true purpose- glorifying God and doing His will.

Good grief- even Adam and Eve had trouble, and they didn't have the Internet!

For heaven's sake (literally!) take time and slow down. Simmer in God's word. Believe Him as you believe in Him. Pray with a friend when you falter. Pray with a faltering friend. Breathe deep and take in the savory scent of the Savior- it's worth waiting for!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stand Up- For Jesus!

I did it. I actually did it.

I tried my hand at doing stand-up comedy for the first time ever.

It started with a regional CCA (Christian Comedy Association) conference. It was fifteen minutes from my house. That should have been the first red flag, but nooooo, I decided to click on the link and register anyway. 

I knew some of the people running the conference. That should have been a second red flag. People who know you make you do stuff you want to do, but but won't do, because you're too terrified to do it. Blah.

They had food. The third red flag. I was doomed the moment I clicked on 'Register'.

Three red flags and a lot of trepidation later, I'm at the Meet and Greet, thinking so far, so good, when someone asks "You signing up for the open mic tomorrow?" 

I laugh. 

Foolish mortal- do you not know the depths of my fear? It's somewhere between bed-wetting and a near-death experience. Thank you, but no. Nope. Nuh uh. Never ever gonna do that. Don't even think it.

Then these comedians, these heinous humortarians, these crazy carnivores of comedic chaos nipped at my heels, smiled ever-so-charmingly, and planted seeds in my head that I just might be able to pull of a three to five minute set.

I resisted. I was a warrior! I had my hedge of protection- the problem was, they gave my muse a nice sharp pair of shears. 

My muse began tickling my mind as I slept, giving me ideas on how I could whip together a set from the myriad piles of notes I'd taken throughout life. Comedy notes I'd been writing for years but never intended to perform. I awoke with my mind buzzing, tearing through my notes faster than a toddler eats crayons.

I actually had enough material on one topic to create a quick set. Egad.

Lucky for me they had all day comedy classes, so I had time to firm everything up on a 3x5 card. If I was going to do this, there was no way in Washington I was going to rely on my cheap sponge-mop memory! I took notes, learned a lot, and tried not to eat or drink before they started the open mic session.

I was fourth on the list. 

My nerves were shot. But as I watched the others, the critiques were actually encouraging. They included my opinions in the critiques as well- it wasn't 'professionals vs. newbies' but more like a discussion group to help improve (or get rid of) material. There were even suggestions that made everyone laugh! And the newbies were taking notes. 

Maybe, just maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

At least until he called my name. I got up there all smiles, but my little piddly 3x5 card was shaking like a neurotic hummingbird in my hand. 

I did my act. 
I was horrible

I held the mic everywhere but my mouth because I talk with my hands. 
They reminded me to breathe in the beginning, because I forgot.
I missed joke notes and had to go back.
I paused too long (no dead air time during open mic! Bad, bad!)
I was shaking through the entire thing.  
About two minutes into it, I settled a little.
One minute more, and I started getting laughs.
I also got blank faces at times.
By the time I got to the end of my little 3x5 card, I'd done a whopping six minutes! That was one minute over the set time, but they were nice enough to let me ramble on anyway.
I didn't even mention God or Jesus. I forgot!
I was still shaking when they applauded.

Now was the part I dreaded. The critique. Surprise! They actually liked some of my jokes! They told me what they liked, what I could work on (hello mic skills!), and what I could improve or make into a longer piece. They also suggested different topics (I had chosen stories about being overweight- not my usual topic, but a popular one), and ways I could manipulate words to make the stories a bit funnier. 

They all sympathized when I could barely hold my pen to take notes. I was still shaking like a caffeinated squirrel for at least ten minutes afterward! But I managed to make legible notations, thanked everyone and got a lot of smiles and pats on the back for my first try. 

I'm still not sure that will ever be the right path for me- Maybe my path runs along the Funny Inspirational speaker, maybe I'll write for other comedians, or maybe keep my focus on being a funny author- but these skills are still very valuable skills that will not only help me tell and write better stories, but might allow me to make funny vlogs, vines, videos or even short commercials somewhere down the line. 

No skill is ever wasted. If you take nothing else away from this post, please take that with you. 

You never know when those odd little skills will be needed. For instance, I worked in the print and copy industry for eleven years. When my husband was burned, he had over three hundred staples in him to hold pigskin on his mid-section- and the docs were hurting him when they removed some of the staples. Who knew my awesome staple-pulling skills would come in handy in a hospital burn unit? 
And guess what? I taught the doctors a few things about staple removal!

Doing stand-up is hard. All of the professional comedians I met were helpful, supportive, and humble. They have no problem taking critiques as much as giving them! Many of them shared great stories about their first tries, which made us newbies feel a whole lot better.

I want to ask a favor from you.

Please help support your local Christian comedians by sharing their links with your Christian brothers, sisters and churches. Go see their shows! And if the church is large enough, your church can host a show of their own- How awesome is that?
Please remember that comedians have families to support- comedy is a hard job, and these fantastic people are worth every penny!

My thanks to Al Smith (our Host from the East Coast), Rik Roberts, Gordon Douglas, Sandi Joy Chadwick, Mary Ellen Rinaldi, and all of the other wonderful funny people I met at the conference!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Rude Guest

Have you ever had a rude guest?

You invite someone to your house. They arrive late, walk right in, toss their coat on the floor, and sit down and eat the dinner you spent hours preparing, never speaking to you, even to say 'Hi'.  Then they yawn, belch, and tromp upstairs to fall asleep on your bed without saying a word. They never thanked you, or even acknowledged that you were there the entire time.

Wouldn't you be offended?

I mean really- who is this person that they don't even acknowledge you, after you've invited them over, fed them, and gave them a place to rest? Who do they think they are anyway?

Let's take that same scenario, but instead of your home, it's God's grace- and you're the guest. We accept God, accept His blessings, eat the food He provides, take the rest He gives; and the entire time we never acknowledge Him or His blessings.

Wouldn't God be offended?

God put us on this earth to glorify Him, praise Him, and share His word with others. And when we don't, we're that rude house guest, ignoring our Host as we eat, belch, and sleep in His presence.

If we don't acknowledge God, we offend Him.

Glorifying God is our main priority- it's not a side quest. But many times we forget that- myself included. Especially myself included! 

How many times have I forgotten to thank Him for food or shelter, but He blessed me with it anyway? How many times have I received healing, or money just when a bill was due, or any of the other blessings He's provided, and not acknowledged Him for it? Too many.

Munch, Gulp. Belch. Snore. Yep, I've done them all.

It's not always easy to thank God when you're going through trials. But we have to find that little nugget of gratefulness in our souls and thank Him for all that He's done- because we don't always see everything he's done for us. There were times I thought He was completely ignoring me, only to find out later He was working on something in the background on my behalf (20/20 hindsight is always perfect!)
Now, even if I don't see the blessings yet, I thank Him. Not all the time (darn this human self!), but I'm getting better at it. In fact, I've been making it a habit to thank Him every morning, even before I get out of bed.

The best part? Usually when I find one nugget of gratefulness, it leads to a ton of other nuggets!

I thank Him for the things He's done (that I know about), the things He's doing (that I don't know about) and for the gifts He's given me. No more tromping mud on His robes, belching, and snoring my way across His grace; I'm just glad He patient and opens my eyes to my mistakes- and He humbles my heart
enough to repent of them.

Thank You God, for all that You have given me- Yesterday, today and tomorrow. And please keep my eyes open to see Your hand in everything, and to keep my heart repentant and my mind willing to learn. Help me to be a good guest in Your grace and to please You in all things.

Now let me get some detergent for that mud on Your robe....

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Living Paradox

Round is a perfect shape.
You use something regularly and care for it, it will never wear out.
An object in motion, stays in motion.

Yeah, right. Not in my world. I'm a living paradox.

Scientists claim a sphere is a perfect shape, yet when I go to the doctor and show off my 'scientifically perfect' physique, he always recommends gastric bypass surgery. Same thing goes for the modeling agencies. 

Maybe they're just jealous of perfection.

I use my body regularly. In fact, I use it every minute of every day! I feed it, care for it, buy it chocolate, and I regularly take it to the doctor, chiropractor, and optometrist. But try telling that to my knees, back, and eyes. My knees refuse to work smoothly anymore, my back aches when I stand too long, and I have to squint to see anything anymore!

Are joints supposed to sound like bubble wrap?

An object in motion, especially one that has a strained knee, aching back, and astigmatism, tends to stop every few minutes to give her so-called perfect shape a break before she cries out like bellowing buffalo with a lion biting its butt. This object prefers to have her appendages cushioned by a couch, thank you very much. I think objects in motion tend to live a lot less longer, mostly because those objects get run over in traffic.

Kinda hard to shuffle one's perfect self across a busy street when she can barely see or walk...right? Especially in a city where red lights are just a suggestion to stop- If you feel like it.

I'm a living paradox. I've stopped believing the hype of scientific 'facts' that my body clearly doesn't follow. Just call me a rebel- but if you call me old, you'd better run- I may not be able to chase you on foot, but the knee I use to drive with is just fine- and remember, red lights are optional.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Unborn Christians

I bet you read the above title and thought Doesn't she mean REborn Christians?

Nope. I mean unborn. These are Christians who don't know they're Christians...yet. At least until we talk to them.
Unborn Christians are those who don't know about Jesus, or kinda-sorta know about God, but don't know enough to claim His promises. That's where we come in.

Scary, isn't it?

You never know when you'll influence someone to come to God. It's not always about brandishing a Bible and praising God at the top of your lungs; sometimes it's that way people see you acting (and reacting) with your co-workers. Or family and friends. Or your children.

One woman is a homemaker. Her and her husband raised three kids in God's word, and when they were grown, they brought fifty-thousand unborn Christians to God through ministry. Is her job any less important because she only influenced three little people? What about her neighbors and friends? They saw God through her eyes and actions and came to Christ, and are now influencing their own kids in God's ways. One little homemaker influenced the future of thousands of unborn Christians.

Another woman works in an office. She not only influences her co-workers, but also the clients she works with. Not all of them come to God, but the few that do wind up influencing their co-workers, bosses, and clients, who them go home and talk to their husbands and wives and then their children...

You get the idea. There are a lot of unborn Christians out there- and all we need to do is talk to them.
Or pray for them. Let them see God through us.

Even though we screw up. Especially when we screw up. That's probably the hardest and scariest part of all because those who are usually the closest to breaking and finding God are our hardest critics, keeping an eye on every thing we do. You know those cynics are watching when a Christian messes up- just wondering what we'll do and how we'll act.

The funny thing is, if we act out of God's will, this is usually the opposite reaction that the cynics expect. And that's usually the best time to talk to these unborn Christians!

Your co-worker asks,"Why didn't you try to get out of it? You could have (list excuse here)...." Your answer will tell her everything about your Christian walk. And that it's not a walk of the perfected- quite the opposite in fact. People might not break down that day and give their lives to God, but you brought them one step closer because you acted in God's best interest.

Living life God's way isn't easy- not by a long shot. But unborn Christians need to not only see us triumph over the struggles of life, but triumph over struggles we're still going through. That is what gets their attention the most. I can't tell you how many times unborn Christians have gone up to my husband and asked, "How did you get through it?" His answers brought many into God's fold.

We both have our moments where God's light doesn't shine as much as it should. We both struggle with staying in God's sight. Honestly, he's quicker on the draw when it comes to admitting mistakes and learning from them, but he's teaching me as I trip along my merry way. Or should I say His merry way?

I'll be meeting a lot of unborn Christians by the time God calls me home (I hope), and I pray I'll be a good example of what God wants me to be. And if I'm not, I hope the cynics see a repentant heart, a submissive spirit, and a humble attitude. I want them to see God working through me.

Who knows how many people we influence each day? But wouldn't it be great to see those unborn Christians of today in heaven when we are called home?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

God's Hint and a Half

Have you ever had God tell you to do something and though you knew what He wanted, you still wanted to do things your way?

Have you ever had God remind you to listen to Him when your thoughts strayed from His will?

A while back I told you I fasted and prayed for an Answer- and God told me to write.
Write books.
Write all of them.
I did what He wanted. I was behaving. Until I saw our dwindling bank account.

Then a mild panic set in and I started brainstorming new ways to bring in extra funds, since I stopped driving for Lyft (for good reason) and the other driving jobs dried up entirely. As of this past Friday, I'd made a decision to call about a possible job driving special needs students to and from schools. I talked it over with my husband, and he thought it should be okay to go forward (because dropping off the kids after school would interfere in family dinner time.) We'd just have to adjust the schedule a bit, so I could drive. I could write and prep dinner in between pick-ups...right?

God decided I needed a hint.

Throughout the week, my bible readings were full of 'the people of Israel were told to do this, and they didn't listen'... 'the people of Israel were told to do that, and they didn't listen'...'Then God got mad and punished them, and they still didn't listen'.

All week God knew what I was thinking, and told me through scripture that His way was a better way. But I was looking at the bank statements and not Him.

So Sunday morning comes and God hit us with a hint and a half. The lesson not only spoke of obeying God, but will He not also provide what we need as we obey? God was blunt enough that even I understood His meaning, and after services My husband and I both talked and agreed that I should bide my time doing what God said to do. 

Besides, what if the journals and planners I'd been working on (as fast self-publishing books) was the answer to our financial dilemma? I would have missed out not only on the blessing, but lost experience practicing self-publishing! Frankly, it doesn't matter how He'll take care of things- it just matters that He will. Just like the sparrows.

I took the hint. I didn't want to know what God would do next if I didn't listen. He's not always so subtle- and I'd rather not find out what His not-so-subtle hints would be! Listening is a much better prospect, don't you agree?

So here I am, writing this blog and sending out my first planner through the vast cyberspace to be judged worthy of publication. I'd never have gotten to this point if God hadn't pushed me. 
I won't tell you that I'll never think another 'get an outside job' thought again- because I'm still human, with a stubborn will of my own. But God will be guiding my steps through it all, and I hope to completely trust in Him without those thoughts in the future.

And I won't stop counting the blessings on the way!