Monday, February 27, 2006

The parking meter

I got to use a parking meter on Friday! I had never used one before! I had to park near the courthouse for something for work. I drove around and around trying to find a place I could park without a parking meter, because I didn't have any change. I couldn't find a place, so I pulled into a spot and rummaged through the truck for any change I could find. I found a nickel and a dime. I thought it would only take quarters, but it turns out I earned myself 9 minutes of parking time with my 15 cents! Of course, I took much longer than 9 minutes, but I felt better knowing I contributed my part to the government....and didn't get caught when I shortchanged them.

Hooray for new experiences!

Friday, February 10, 2006

How do we recognize pain?

I consider myself a pretty transparent person. I'll be open about my faults, and most people know that I am not a neat, organized person and that I realize I will never be a perfect wife who makes beautiful casseroles. People know funny things about my cat, and if I've had a good conversation with you, you'll probably know what I'm struggling with at the moment, or what wonderful thing has happened. However, with all that transparency, would anyone ever guess I was an insecure person? Probably not. Or maybe the truly astute would realize that my verbosity about my life is a way to fill the void of silence.

The reality is that everyone hides things about his or her life. And maybe "hides" is not necessarily the right word. I think most people wish others knew the secret things about them; they just don't know how to express it, or they dream of a friend who will see them so clearly that all is understood without a word being spoken.

At the moment I am thinking about people who hide pain. So I suppose I'm thinking about everyone. We all push the pain we feel way down inside so no one knows about it. Sure, there are those who tell you every ailment that's befallen them, but that's not their real pain. The real pain might be loneliness, fear that their husband is cheating on them, or that life just feels like it's falling apart.

The world is painful, and everyone in it is in pain. Yet we've created an environment (a "Christian" environment, mind you) very hostile to pain, especially the pain of other people. To hold in pain means stress, sickness, and emotional suicide. To let it out means, sadly, much the same. How do we react when someone comes to us with a pain in their life? If not outwardly, inwardly we cringe.

"This is not what I need in my life right now! I don't want this complication of dealing with someone else's problems!"

Don't we think that? Admit it. You're selfish, and so am I, and we've made ourselves too busy to deal with our own problems, much less the problems of others. What a testimony to the love and sacrifice of Christ. Ugh. Sometimes I think of the depravity of man--of myself--and I want to puke.

So what should we do? It's true that "bearing one another's burdens" is a complicated issue. How do we know that people are in pain in the first place? Well, it's kind of like evangelizing; we dream of the day someone walks up to us and says, "You're different. How can I get what you have?", we explain the Roman Road (and remember all the verses) and that person accepts Christ on the spot. But that doesn't happen very often. And in the same way, people won't approach you about their pain. It must be proactive on your part. Truly listen to others with prayer and petition, that your heart could be open to hear their cries.

Realize that I haven't said, "Go out and get the dirt on all your friends." The point is not to be in the know, but to help someone fall on Christ. Be aware of your motives as you seek to help someone. Recognize also when God has laid a specific person on your heart. "Pray without ceasing" when walking the road of a comforter. After all, it's not you who is comforting, but Christ our Comfort ministering through you.

When you realize someone is in pain, how do you deal with it? Amazingly enough, all is not solved with a chicken casserole and apple pie (or more likely in my case, a sack of Taco Bell). Sometimes a meal is exactly what someone needs, and sometimes it isn't. There's not a hard and fast rule about how to deal with someone's pain. As a matter of fact, I'd be surprised if there were even two situations that could be dealt with in the same way. Every situation is different. But each can be approached the same way--with humility and grace. You have your own problems and mistakes, you won't be able to help others without the miracle of Christ working in you, and forgiveness is for everyone, not just for the ones with little sins.

One temptation is to pull out too quickly. Drop your casserole at the stoop and run. A note in the mail, a chat over coffee and then it's done. That's like taking a Tylenol for cancer. Healing is a process, and if you've been called by God to help a person through the healing process, then you're in it for the long haul. You are committed. When it gets tough is when you really know that it's not your strength that heals, but God's.

Of course, there are complications. We look to God's Word to learn how to deal with the unrepentant brother, etc, etc. But sometimes I think we use that as an excuse to give up too quickly. In my current experience with weight training, I have to rate how hard I push myself with every set of weights I do. I know from how I rate myself that I think I work a lot harder than I do. I think, "Whoo, ten pounds! That was a killer!" and then I watch others push and push until they can't push any more.

I want to be like that. I want to have that drive as a Christian. I want to push and push until the day I die. I want to be spent of myself so that there's nothing left but Christ, my Fulfillment. I want to sacrifice until it hurts, because there is no other kind of sacrifice. And if that means doing things out of my comfort zone, or sticking with a friend way after it got tough, then that's what I want to do.

Pain is not a personal problem. The pain of a fellow Christian is a call to heal the wounded. The pain of a non-believer is a call to save the dying.

This is our call. Are we listening?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Jon!

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband! I hope you have a wonderful day, and an even better year, filled with good things and great surprises. I love you!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Happy February!

Well, I don't have much to say, but I thought it's been awhile since I posted, so here's a new post.

I've been sickeningly busy for work. I have two big projects going on. One is my own project, and one is my boss's. Needless to say, my project needs to be ready by Friday, and it hasn't been touched in almost two weeks. So that'll be a fun Thursday night getting that ready. I thought I finished the all-nighters when I graduated!

I've been to several fun places lately, all because of my wonderful husband. We went swing dancing with some people from church, and then Jon was able to get me tickets to Broadway on Ice at the Bass Hall. Then last night, Jon took me bowling! Our combined score was...well, together we didn't break 200, but we came close. It turns out I've forgotten everything I learned in bowling class.

Target has had its swimsuit racks out for at least two weeks, probably longer. I saw them a couple weeks ago. At first I thought they were still leftovers from last summer. I thought, "Great! I bet now is the time I could find a $2 swimsuit!" But no, I was appalled to find out that these were the new season of swimsuits. Are you kidding?? It's January!! I mean, we've all just managed to add the proper amount of winter padding around our waists, and we don't need to be reminded of bikini season, thank you!

Speaking of (winter padding, not bikini season), Jon and I have been working really hard to eat better and work out. I've really enjoyed working out with Jon; it's given us some time together that we haven't had before. And it's fun, in a my-legs-feel-like-Jello-my-arms-are-limp-noodles kind of way. I don't think I'll ever have a six-pack, but I'll settle for movie-star arms. You know, the really nice muscley toned arms that every movie star has. That would be nice.

Eating better has turned out to be an ordeal. What a lot of pots and pans! And for every meal! There need to be disposable pots like there are paper plates. No washing required. Just dump in the trash and open up a new one. Okay, so the world doesn't need more disposable items, but still, it would be handy.

In regards to world matters, I want to encourage you all to buy bikes and get really used to riding them, for when the world runs out of oil and scientists are stuck with their shoulders shrugged when it turns out they haven't come up with a replacement fuel source in time. I wonder if it could really happen. I mean, we all secretly don't think it could, otherwise we would start being more energy efficient. But then again, scientists were supposed to get us flying cars by year 2000, and that was a huge disappointment. At one point the Government gave tax cuts (or tax advantages or something) to people who bought hybrids, but the amount decreased every year so that it doesn't really matter any more. They should keep something like that going until enough people have bought hybrids.

I think hybrids are pretty cool. That was my car of choice when we were looking for cars. A Honda Civic hybrid. Turns out it was about $20K more than my Hyundai. It was a tough choice, but I picked the Hyundai, and now we already own it. Once hybrids are only $6,000, then I'll get one, I guess. What I think is funny are the SUV and truck hybrids. It's like you're trying to get the best of both worlds, and not really getting either. Sure, it's an SUV, but the pick-up-and-go stinks. And sure, it's a hybrid, but it still only gets 15 miles to the gallon. The idea is just a little too good to be true.

Where did the idea of solar powered cars go? Remember reading about those in school? That was the wave of the future, let me tell you. Sleek cars that looked kind of like a big playing card with four tiny wheels and huge solar panels on top. That's the way to go!

Now that we have a bird feeder, and about three types of birds (doves, sparrows and finches), our yard has become a regular playground of noisy birds. I don't mind, really. It's nice (and odd) because there used to be no living thing in our yard. Now there's constant traffic of birds, and the black and white cat that spends his day sleeping in the corner by the back fence. I'm looking forward to Spring when I can plant some flowers.

Well, I guess that's it. It turns out I had a little to say about a lot of different subjects. I hope everyone is enjoying the first day of February. Happy birth month, Jon and Teresa! And just think, after February is March, and we can leave this weird winter behind and head to spring!

For now, I have to get back to my projects....