Friday, November 27, 2009

I Need A Proper Hug

I go to the movies on rare occasions. Part of it is simply logistics and not wanting to do the solo thing. But every once in awhile I decide a movie looks good enough to go it alone.

Today, I went to see Blindside. It's a major show but is a bit like Facing the Giants. It was excellent. (Cannot believe I'm saying that about a football movie.) But, honestly, it is more than a movie about football. Football is the secondary story line. The first is about a family that makes one decision after another to walk out their faith in very real and practical ways. At one point, a woman says to Leigh Ann (the mom), "You're changing that boy's life." She corrects her. "He's changing mine."

There were lots of lines that struck me. It is probably worth a second viewing. But as I left the theater, I was struck by a line that happened mid way through the movie and was repeated later. The family is celebrating Michael's success. Leigh Ann says, "I need a proper hug."

Through out the movie, whenever Leigh Ann starts to get emotional, she says, "Alright then" and leaves to hide the tears. As she has to part from Michael at the end, she does it again. Michael is perplexed but then follows her to the car. She tries to be brusque, at first refusing to roll down the car window. When she finally does, Michael says, "I need a proper hug."

Good movie that makes you so glad Michael has someone to hug him.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Think I'll Have Pie

Today on my way into work, I heard a discussion about Thanksgiving portions. The information given was correct. The stomach holds about two cups of food without stretching. That is about two handfuls. Hmm. Doesn't sound like a Thanksgiving feast? I could see where this would be a bit anxiety provoking for people who find comfort rituals. Thanksgiving has partly become about an elaborate spread. Partly is the key word.

The other part is the thankful part. That should probably be the biggest part.

Towards the end of last summer, I started taking a class through work called Healthy Weight Healthy You (HWHY). I lost a good hunk of weight. (Click here for info on that.) Erin Kennedy and Kim McClintic (the leaders) suggested starting with a goal of 10% weight loss. While I didn't quite achieve that, I was still pleased.

The last couple of weeks they have started a second session. I am thrilled to announce that today I hit 10%!

I could get a bit obsessive about it and think that come Thursday I really shouldn't eat. But that would just make me feel deprived. So, I am keeping what they have taught us in mind.

  • Don't go starving
  • Select a variety. Veggies are good but it doesn't all have to be veggies.
  • Watch the portion sizes. Just because you only get it once or twice a year doesn't mean you have to go overboard. Take a bit. You can go back for more if that didn't satisfy. But give yourself time to decide that.
  • A pound is about 3,500 calories. You would have to eat a ton and do absolutely nothing to do that much damage in a day. The real battle is more the day to day stuff or the treats between the holidays from Halloween candy to chocolate Easter bunnies. You cannot blow it in one day.
Kim talked about hidden fats and sugars today and ways to figure that out. I'm planning on making an apple pie (real apples that I have to peel and everything). Yes, it has sugar. I could try a substitute but since this is a very few (2-3) times a year treat, I think I'll stick to mom's recipe and enjoy.

All things factored in, 1 piece of pie won't undo my 10%!


Monday, November 23, 2009

So You Are In The Know

Today, I had two conversations about the device to the right. Neither person knew what I was talking about. I thought I'd share with you so that on Nov. 30th you would be in the know.

It is Nook. The management team at the Barnes and Noble where I work is adamant that it is simply "Nook." (To be fair, this is coming from corporate.) It is not a Nook or the Nook, just Nook.

Nook is an e-reader. It's a bit like the Kindle from Amazon. (But the people I talked to today didn't know about that either.) Basically, you wirelessly download books and read them on Nook. It's got a touch screen, nifty covers, over a million titles available, and you can even loan your ebook to other people who have Nook! Sorry, all of that beats Kindle.

It's been interesting listening to the buzz it has created. It doesn't debut in stores until Nov. 30th! Demand has outstripped all expectations without people even having a demo to play with in the stores. (The BN store I work at is leading the district in pre-orders.) On Saturday, I had a chance to pre-order it for a customer. I was a bit nervous. I wanted to make sure I did it all correctly!

I'm sure it is the wave of the future. I'm looking forward to seeing one, though it may take a bit for me to actually get one. Nook isn't in the budget at the moment. (No employee discount -- bummer!) Still, I am curious.

You can check it out at (click the picture -- it's a live link) or go into a store and any bookseller can tell you all about it. Either way, just tell them Amy sent you. Or not. They won't have a clue who I am. (But in case any BN management or corporate types are reading -- notice that I'm talking about it at my day job and not just in store and I'm even talking about it on the web!)

Now, you know. Nook is coming and you even know how to talk about it -- simply Nook.

I bet it makes it in the newest version of the dictionary next year.


Monday, November 16, 2009

I See You, I Hear You, I Love You -- Hope Chronicles 93

Sometimes -- okay, often times -- I struggle with crowds. I do okay if I have a specific task, but just hanging in big groups is so hard for me as it often makes me feel very alone. This even spills over into church at times. I watch people interact and connect and I wonder why I cannot seem to make those connections.

I've noticed lately that this has spilled over in my relationship with God. I've found myself feeling like I am just one in the crowd with God. Intellectually, I know that isn't true. However, sometimes it is so hard to past the feelings.

Alone. Lonely. I hate those words, but I've felt them so acutely the last several months. I've found myself pondering the first few chapters of Genesis. Everything is "good." When God creates Adam, it is "very good." However it then shifts because no suitable helper for Adam is found. God says, "It is not good for man to be alone." It is the only not good. So God creates Eve.

My plea with God has been that it is not good for me to be alone either. I don't mean just in terms of a mate but even in terms of friends and family. Being single, I get up alone, go to bed alone, eat 99% of my meals alone, and rarely have anyone ask, "How was your day?"

I feel unseen, unheard, unloved.

But God. (See this post for more on But God.) God doesn't always respond in our timing or the way we want. The Israelites were in slavery for hundreds of years. But God saw them. He heard the cry of His people. There are 400 years of relative silence between the Old and New Testament time periods. But God never forgot His people. He may have been waiting for just the right moment, but He saw them and heard them and loved them.

Recently I heard about a gathering to learn about orphans around the world put on by Life Song for Orphans. I also heard that one of my favorite people was going to be speaking. Lysa is from North Carolina. I emailed and said that I knew that she and Holly (another of my favorite people) probably had plans and such, but considering that they would only be 45 minutes away, if I could get off of work, I would drive up to hear Lysa speak. I got an email back saying they would love to see me and talked about dinner.

Going up, I tried to keep my expectations in check. Lysa would be busy with people wanting to talk to her after she shared her adoption story. Holly would be busy with Lysa's book table. I packed a book in my bag so I could sit and read.

But I didn't crack my book once! Holly greeted me enthusiastically and invited me to help at the table. Lysa was talking to someone, but as soon as she was done, she came over to greet me and hug me too. I sat with them during the program. I got to spend a bit of time with them at dinner.

The coordinator and two of the volunteers of the event also went to dinner. Lysa introduced me as her friend and briefly told how we had connected. She said, "I just love her to pieces."

I don't see Lysa and Holly much. We don't even connect through email even once every few months. I read Lysa's blog and such, so I keep up with her some. It just meant a lot to be named their friend and have the opportunity to connect.

I feel like God said, "I know you don't feel it at times, but I see you, I hear you, I love you. Now, here are two people to tangibly show you even if it is just a few hours." Never underestimate how much hope a kind word, a hug, or a few hours of fellowship can bring to a soul.

Lysa Terkeurst, me, & Holly Good


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Do You Do Life With?

I discovered Grey's Anatomy this summer. Yes, I know it has been on for a few years. I just never tuned in. The summer was perfect time for starting. I've actually found the original episodes and I'm slogging my way through those as well as the current ones.

I was touched by one of the early ones. A mom was giving birth to quints. They were very tiny and fragile. I think they lost at least one. Another was struggling. Meredith had the idea to put one of the weaker babies in the same incubator as one of the stronger ones. She said it was called "co-bedding" and hospitals sometimes did it with twins. No one knows why it helps, but that it does. Perhaps it has something to do with no being alone.

That episode was on awhile ago, but it has stuck with me. What things might get healed if we emotionally "co-bedded?" There must be a better way to say that. What if we got that close to one another so that we could heal from someone's strength.

It has actually had me thinking about the American idea of living as one family or one individual. We want children to grow up and move out of the house. We encourage independence. But what if we are missing something too?

When I lived in IN I lived with a family for three years. It was bit of an unorthodox situation. I paid minimal rent and while I wasn't a nanny, I helped out with the kids whenever I could. I ate with them when I could. If Dana cooked, I cleaned up. If she was cooking, I would take the kids outside to play. I ran errands. I kid sat. I made a weekly time to have "art" (used loosely because I am no artist) with 5 year-old Hannah. When Elizabeth turned 4, she wanted a butterfly birthday theme. I made a butterfly shaped cake with yellow icing and decorated with pastel M & M's by the birthday girl. On Sunday nights after the kids were in bed, Jerry and Dana and I met to talk and pray. We did life together.

Honestly, daily proximity helped. But what if we did life together more intentionally? I wonder what places in our hearts might find peace for a time and maybe healing.

Who do you do life with?


Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday Spirit

If you are gaga about Christmas, you might not want to read this. You've been warned. But then, if you are gaga about Christmas, you might have some words of wisdom for me.

I'm not big on Christmas. No, I don't think that makes me Scrooge. Actually, I'm fine with everyone else being all Christmas. Generally, I try not to tear it down. I listen to people who are all excited, but I generally try to refrain from commenting. (Yes, this is an exception!)

I just think that the holidays are hard for a lot of people:

  • Maybe there is a loss associated with the holiday
  • Maybe they are lonely
  • Maybe it causes a lot of financial stress
  • Maybe they work retail where the holiday spirit is really more like a feeding frenzy and you ask someone if they want to donate to the holiday book drive and you get snarled at. (Not that anything like that has ever happened to me!)
  • Maybe people are far away from family
  • Maybe 100% Christmas music (30 different renditions of Jingle Bells in one day) just grates.
  • Maybe all the activity makes someone dizzy
  • Maybe things get lost in the shuffle
  • It could be any number of things
I wish I loved the holiday season. I really do. I'd love to be swept away by it. But then, I don't really get swept away by much.

I struggle with the holiday season, but I do love the meaning of it. I love the word Emmanuel, God with us. I learned once that literally it means that God pitched His tent among us. I love that idea. He made His home with us.

And I love that Jesus came in the dark of night. I love that His birth ended 400 years of relative silence from when the Old Testament ends and Jesus is born. I love that Jesus was born in a manger. Some of it is nostalgia from my horse riding days. I know that stables are smelly places, but there is a warmth there too. In terms of the big picture, a stable was a place where even shepherds could go unimpeded. Jesus came to the common man, not just the rich or the kings.

Mostly, I love what I imagine would have been a pause among all creation, when Jesus struggled into the world, and let out that first cry, and then was snuggled close. I love that Jesus knew comfort that way. I love that in the prodigal son, the father ran to hug his son. And though the cross was cruel, I love that Jesus chose to throw open his arms for all eternity because he wants to gather us close and never let go.

I struggle with the holidays for lots of reasons. But I love the meaning behind it. So, I'm praying that the peace of being held close to Jesus would prevail over the chaos and even the anxiety I am already beginning to feel.


Monday, November 2, 2009

But God -- Hope Chronicles 92

Yesterday, I posted "No But's." While there are no but's to God's truth, there is a time when but becomes a word of hope. it is when it is coupled with God. "But God . . . ."

The story that sticks out to me the most is the one of Jonah. It's nice and short, so you could easily give it a quick read. (Hint, hint.) Short version: God called Jonah to go and preach to the the city of Nineveh. Jonah turns and runs the other way. But God sends a storm to wreck havoc on the ship that Jonah is on. The sailors throw Jonah overboard to appease God. I'm sure Jonah thought he was going to die. But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the fish for 3 days. (Yuck!). When the fish spits him onto the shore, Jonah finally goes to preach to Nineveh. However, when the people repent, Jonah is even more angry. He stalks off into the desert. God makes a vine grow up to give him shade. However, the next day, it is eaten by a worm. Jonah is so angry he wants to die. But the Lord replied, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

"But God" juxtaposes the difference between man and God. In Jonah it shows Jonah's shallow concerns and God's compassion on 120,000 people.

In other places it shows God's provision:

  • Genesis 45:7 "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth . . . ."
  • Genesis 48:21 "I am about to die, but Godwill be with you."
  • Psalm 118:13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me."
  • Acts 2:24 in regards to Jesus "But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."
  • Acts 7:5 "He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at the time Abraham had no child."
It shows God's compassion:
  • 2 Samuel 14:14 "Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him."
  • 2 Kings 13:23 "But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them . . . ."
  • Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
  • 2 Cornithians 7: 6 "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus . . . .
It shows God's protection:
  • Psalm 64:7 "But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down."
  • Psalm 14:6 "You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge."
  • Exodus 9:4 "But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die."
  • Numbers 14:9 "Only do not rebel against the Lord and do not be afraid f the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us."
It shows that God hears us:
  • Pslam 66:19 "but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer."
It shows that God is not always what we expect:

  • 1Kings 19:11-12 Elijah is told to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord. There is wind, fire, and earthquake. "but the Lord was not in the wind . . . . but the Lord was not in the earthquake . . . . but the Lord was not in the fire." Elijah recognizes the Lord in the gentle whisper.

"But God" -- words of hope.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

No But's -- Hope Chronicles 91

Do you ever have times where you are unconsciously thinking something, where you are not really aware of the conclusion you've come to until it pops out of your mouth? I had that happen about a month ago. I was meeting with my counselor, Julie. It was a tearful session. Part way through, these words slipped out, "Why does God hate me?"

Julie didn't even pause. "What does the Bible say?"

"That God loves me, that Jesus died for me." Big sigh. "But . . . ."

Julie cut me off. "No but's"

Honestly, hadn't been aware that I had come to that conclusion. Maybe it wasn't even a full conclusion yet, but a whisper from Satan. "If God loved you, you wouldn't struggle so much. If God loved you, He would protect you. If God loved you, ____________."

However, even if it wasn't a full conclusion, I was more than willing to say "But" to the truth that God loves me.

"No but's" has stuck with me. There are no rebuttals to truth. Truth simply is. When we waste our time wrestling against truth, we are distracted, exhausted, unhappy, angry, . . . . There is no rest.

What do you have to say "No but's" to today?