Sunday, March 28, 2021

Absorbing the Bad

 I have been thinking about how to teach my students.  They are young and already they have had such hard lives sometimes.  I have worked at my school for 10 years.  What do I want them to learn?  What have I learned that I could teach them about the world?  I wonder.

I have taught my own children that two wrongs don't make a right.  I get this from the Bible directly. Romans 12:14-21 ESV says: 

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the LORD.'  To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."

Man!  This is a lot to go by.  I mean, I love God but I don't think I could do it all.  But I have seen it.  Someone gets disrespected, someone FEELS disrespected and all of a sudden there is a tete a tete.  Could this all be miscommunication?  I think it could be.  Someone nods and another insecure person thinks that this nod means that they are "dogging" them.  A glance may just be a glance.  A nod may just be a nod.  Maybe they are thinking about things that they have to do later and are nodding to themselves.  I know that I have laughed and it has been misinterpreted as me laughing at someone.  It really could just mean that I'm laughing at myself or something in my head.  Not everything is about you.  And in walks in Ego.

We don't really fight with people, do we?  We fight with their ego and insecurities.  We are not really fighting flesh and blood but sometimes, we are fighting the spirit world (as if we are actually able to fight in the spirit world).  Take a note from Ephesians 6:12.  I mean, I have my own issues that are in the way of doing better for others.  I have my own bruised ego that I am trying to present to Jesus.  But I know that someone could get caught in the doing-evil cycle and it becomes a Hatfield and McCoy type situation.  

So... when someone hurts my feelings, either on purpose or inadvertently, I will forgive and I bring it to Jesus to help me process what I'm feeling.  Maybe then, I can help heal the world.  I will try to teach my students and my children that when you let go and give it to Jesus than means that they don't have to carry it or the scar hate leaves in their heart.  I'm telling myself the same thing going forward in the world.  And pray!!!  Prayer works!!!  Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Missing Decade

This may sound crazy but I think I lost a decade.  I mean, I am the age that I am but I somehow regressed a whole decade.  I have been thinking about when it happened and I think it was some time in the 90's.  It took me about three years longer than I needed to graduate from college.  I tried going to grad school but then I decided that I wanted to be a singer and instead, I worked.  I worked a 9-5 job and then worked on my demo.  I went on auditions.  I auditioned for Rent and for movies.  I took headshots and photos to be a beautiful plus side model.  I didn't realize that you had to be taller to be a model.  

You see, Santi made me think that I could do anything.  It didn't help that my father supported me as well in anything and everything that I wanted to try.  I graduated from college at 25 years old.  I hung out with some younger people so, I thought I was younger.  My father died when I was 26 years old, almost 27 and I looked about 10 years younger.  I worked as a secretary that didn't need a bachelor's to get.  I think that this is when I lost my decade.  Hanging out as an alumni member of my sorority with younger women diluted me into believing that I was ten years younger than I actually was.  

I remember the pop music.  As an older person I was hypnotized by The Backstreet Boys and later on, NSYNC.  Man, did I love the grunge stuff too!  I'm telling you, I was convinced, CONVINCED that I was younger than I actually was.  Justin Timberlake's solo album came out 2002.  I think that the official lost decade was when I was 23 to 33.  I think I just reset and then at 33 I went off with life as if I was 23.  In this decade long bubble I had a blast.  It was quite the transition!

I'm thinking of transitions now.  I can't afford to lose another decade.  It's really crazy the stuff that is coming up but I am calm and excited to see what is the next transition.  Praise the Lord!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

God Laughing

I think that the saying goes, "Man plans. God laughs."  I think that the actual verse I am thinking of goes, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."  I'm okay with that.  I think that He is laughing right now.  I have to laugh with Him.

I had a tentative idea of how everything would happen.  I have already told you that I wanted a Vegas wedding.  I even had a dress and was looking at wedding chapels.  When my pastor asked me about my engagement and asked about my elopement.  I was happy to tell him all about it.  Instead I am doing premarital counseling with my Associate Pastor and my sweet fiancĂ© (He really is the sweetest.  He bought me a whole bag of black jelly beans, my favorite!!).  

We are filling out forms and we have couples homework.  I was talking about not having a wedding date and Geoff was like, "Trust in the Lord..."  Did my fiancĂ© quote Proverbs to me?  He sure did!  I had all of these things up in the air and now they are finding their way.  Not my way, as much as I wanted to have a flashy glitzy wedding in Vegas, I am finding that God's way is better than my own.  

I still don't know what is happening.  My very intimate wedding is beginning to look different.  We are using words like "guest lists" and there is every possibility that a minister that has known me for several years will marry us.  We are still in the middle of a pandemic.  So, we are looking at a micro wedding.  I mean, there are people that still don't know that we are engaged.  I was talking to my close, dear friend, Rebecca and she looked at my hand and was like, "What's that on your hand?"  I felt horrible that she didn't know.  

Here I am making plans and there is every possibility that God is laughing.  BUT... He's not laughing at me, He is laughing with me.  And I am laughing with Him.  It's His world and I'm leaving my life in His big capable hands.  That being the case, I can afford to laugh... with my guy, while being in love.  Who knows what will happen?  I'm excited to see what will happen.  Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Small and Intimate

When my daughter was smaller, she wanted a birthday party.  She is my sweet extrovert.  I remember trying to figure out how to throw a party for her.  I ended up a few years in Peter Piper.  One year I threw her a marvelous Valentine's Day party... Her birthday is in January.  I couldn't do it sooner.  Recently, I was talking to Janet and she mentioned how truly uncomfortable I always looked playing hostess at her parties.  

I don't know when it was that I knew that I was not good at throwing parties or having a party thrown in my honor.  I think I was in high school.  I still remember the fiasco of my Sweet Sixteen party.  I wanted a night out in a pretty dress eating at a fancy restaurant.  Instead, a surprise party was thrown in my honor and I was ungrateful and anxious.  

I cried every time I thought of having a big wedding the first time I got married.  There was so much planning and I did it all.  I was proposed to in the same year that my father passed away.  I couldn't imagine walking down the aisle without him.  My cousin, Ricky was lent to me by my dear cousin, Dee.  Her father did a great job walking me down the aisle and dancing with me at the reception; but I missed my father and the whole day I kept back tears because he wasn't there.  

People are so sweet, congratulating me on our engagement.   They ask me for a date for the wedding.  I don't know.  I'm hoping to wake up soon and say, "Today's the day."  I'm thinking that it will be soon.  I have an outfit and I have been looking at some outfits for the children.  The Vegas wedding is becoming a backyard wedding somewhere.  Already my heart is racing.  Anything else than Vegas means planning.  I think the Runaway Bride had the right idea getting married on a hill with a minister somewhere and just announcing it when she was ready.  Am I the only one like this?  

Let's see what happens.  Whatever may happen, I'll let you know... after the fact.  I have all of these things up in the air.  I pray, "God, I don't know but I'm trusting in You with everything."  That's all.  Praise the Lord!!!  

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Tell Me Your Stories

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a teacher.  I have been asking for stories.  I want to know their stories.  I want to know about the stories that have affected them.  I was talking with the Pastor and he was asking me for a story.  I really didn't have one for him because sometimes you just have a series of events, not a story, or a narrative.  He tells me that it all becomes story.  Sometimes you can't tell the story while you are living it.  Sometimes you have to develop the story till it comes to a chapter break.  

I have asked my students to tell me their stories.  They don't want to tell me.  They write one sentence stories of events.  I ask myself the purpose of them telling their stories.  First of all, I want them to realize that they have stories to tell.  The telling of these stories helps air out the dirty laundry taking up residence in the closet of their psyches.  You heal a wound by letting it air out till it develops a scab, no?  

Some of the other students do tell me some stories but you can tell that I have asked a lot of them.  They don't know how to set up a story.  They don't know how to include details.  They lack the ability to raise the action to the climax and the denouement.  Furthermore, they can't tell me why they have considered this story.  Forget about their own personal stories, any story.  Tell me a story.  It is hard for them.

I am a story teller teacher.  I tell stories to illustrate my point.  I show interesting animated shorts to demonstrate big concepts.  I tell them about my life.  I tell them about the lives of the people that I have met.  I change the names sometimes.  I have had some students hear my stories over and over again and not complain.  Poor guys!!!  Is this some type of talent that I am not aware of?  Is it not normal for people to tell their stories?  I truly don't know.  

I think I need to work on listening.  Tell me your stories.  Let me practice listening with you.  Write to me emails filled with your prose.  Message me your favorite jokes.  I wonder what are the stories too dark to tell that poison your thoughts and your dreams.   Okay, don't tell me.  But tell that story out loud to God.  Write them down on pages in a journal and burn them.  Don't let those dark ugly stories infect more of your life.  Maybe, if you are brave, you can tell your story to someone and there is every possibility that that person can tell their story and we can find strength in being human together in this world.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Writing Therapy

Today I have had a lot of things happen to me.  These series of actions have left me... sad.  I am sad and disappointed.  Let me explain to you the process.  I hear of the first action.  This left me unsettled and upset but I continue moving forward.  Then, I come to find out that this first action has resulted in a chain reaction.  Apologies were issued and forgiveness has been doled out.  I pray to God.  I ask Him to help me to treat other humans as... human.  I am human too.  With this... humanity, I feel emotions.  I'm telling you that I felt badly. 

I talk to my son about this all the time.  He broke a prized wineglass one day while washing dishes.  I was hurt about the broken wineglass.  He apologized but he didn't understand why I was still upset.  I was still upset because, although he apologized I was still hurt.  I was still dealing with the business of being human. This is a similar circumstance.

You should know that I am working on my first response to be prayer.  I'm casting my cares upon God because He cares about me (I Peter 5:7). I keep a prayer journal and I find that I write a lot to try and process what I am thinking.  I go to Him first because then I won't let my emotions bubble up on everything.  I can hear and see things without the filter of my emotions.  

I don't know why these things happen.  I work with at risk teens and I have to remember that they will mess up.  I am aware that they are humans working toward being better humans.  Another friend of mine has decided to change her life and lose weight.  She is starting off small but I want to be next to her celebrating the small victories of choosing water over soda. I want to tell her that tomorrow starts again when she has had a bad day.  She is trying.  I don't want to pooh pooh her efforts.  That effort is a big thing.  I know about this.  This effort denotes intention and intention starts with the heart, doesn't it? What a blessing to be next to someone who is trying something new?  What a blessing it is to encourage a heart to move forward and do good?  

Jeremiah 17: 10 states, 
"I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve." 

Dear Sweet Friends, the Bible says that there are none that are righteous, there are none on this earth who does good (Romans 3: 10).  We all mess it up and I am guilty of this.  With this sin marking me, I know that I deserve death on some cross.  I am grateful that I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. All should be forgiven...  as I am forgiven.  How bad is it to repay evil with evil and perpetuate upon this fragile earth, this cycle of evil.  Let it end with me.
There is every possibility that I have said something wrong in this post.  There is every possibility that someone will read into this.  I am feeling better. I weigh if I should even post this blog post.  Here is the thing.  I needed to write these words.  This blog is therapy.  This blog is to help me process and to be transparent about my process- maybe someone needs to read this, so they can write their thoughts down to God or to process them so they can absorb a little more of that evil that is going around these days.  Well... not evil, just a series of actions that enabled me to bring it all to God to pray about it and be reminded of my humanity.

Friends, be in prayer.  Read the Word and be a light in dark places.  We are reading Peter in church. Did you know that he is a man after my own heart?  He was a hot mess on toast with butter.  But did you know that God gave this guy the keys to the kingdom?  I am still reading Old Pete's letters today.   It wasn't really about Peter but God.  God likes to take us broken humans to tell His story.  May I be so worthy.   

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Let The Chips Fall

I have spent the last couple of days thinking about how I would describe this time.  There is so much in front of me, in front of us.  This is anxiety inducing for the best of us.  A wedding afoot, moving, finishing a degree, the idea of changing jobs, how does anyone do it?  There is so much up in the air.  There are plenty of unknowns to fuss over. I do look up, not to the chaos of what is to come.  Not in fear and anxiety that it will not be fine.  I know that there will always be that possibility with everything all lined up and all the preparations in order in the best of times, things may not go the way we think.  

I sit here in peace.  My coffee is just the right temperature.  I take a deep breath.  I am still.  I mean to tell you that I am small.  I can already hear some of you start telling me something about myself.  "Elle, don't say that you are..."  I am, who God made me to be.  I am nothing apart from Him.  I try to empty myself out so that there is less of me and more of Him.  I pray that the good you see in me is God.  I know I am a mess.  I want to let you into my messy life.  I want you here with me to see that everything that is happening to me is not me.  I want you on the ground floor.  So that when you go to God with your messy life you can be still and know that He will do for you wonderful miraculous things.  So when you have your chips up in the air, that you can be still and at peace.  There is no peace like God's peace.  It is a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).  

What will happen, will happen; let the chips fall where they may.  I pray to always remember God in my life.  He is infinitely better at things than I am.  I have been using Psalm 16 as my prayer.  It goes like this: 

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
"You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You." 
As for the saints who are on the earth,
"They are excellent ones, in whom all is my delight."

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Winging It

 I guess I should explain.  I may have a lot to explain.  He asked me in December.  It was a Sunday and we were driving home after hanging out.  I think we kept it low key because he wanted to ask the children individually for permission.  He knew that would be important to them and it was.  There was no reason not to talk about it then.  I waited for a ring and he said that we would get one together because he wanted to make sure to get one I liked and wanted.  

It was David that sort of  let the cat out of the bag.  He came into the car after Wednesday Bible Study and told me that his youth group was praying for our engagement and upcoming wedding.  "It's okay, Mom."  He assured me.  "It's a small group and no one will tell." I laughed about it.  It wasn't a secret.  I don't want my children hiding it.  I guess you could say that I was trying to decide how to announce it. The bigger issue came on Sunday when Paula and later Harry, came up to me to quietly congratulate me.  This was my face, "..."  I really didn't know what they were congratulating me for.  This is what comes from winging it. Later, we talked about it in the car.  Geoff was not upset but he was taken by surprise, as was I and I had advanced notice. 

Do I want to talk about the ring?  I wear it over the band that signifies that God comes first.  That band is a thin yellow gold band.  I am so surprised at how big it seems when I wear it with the white gold engagement ring.  I have worn it all day today but no one has seemed to notice.  I'm okay with this.  It is a strange sensation being engaged after decades of not being engaged.  It has a different feel to it.  I went to Facebook to post it..  Here is where I ran into issues.  I am listed as widowed and my late husband's account has been memorialized.  On Saturday it will have been three years.  I couldn't seem to change it.  It felt too much like letting too much go.

The plan is to elope.  I have always wanted to elope.  A pandemic helps reinforce that smaller is better. He finds it funny that I want to go to Sin City to get married.  It's almost an oxymoron.  But it's part destination wedding too!!! Why do it this way?  I don't want to plan a wedding.  I did that already.  I want to plan a life.  Too many people will make it feel like too much.  But I do want a celebration.  I am, still, after all...Elle.     

As I write this, I search my heart and mind.  I am calm.  My prayer is: "Lead me only in Your paths, Lord."  I'm getting married, you guys.  Be in prayer for us.  I'm excited to know where God is taking us.  Praise the Lord!