Monday, August 24, 2009

It Was A Monday

Today was Monday. I suppose most of you already knew that. Let me say it a different way. It was MONDAY! In other words, it was a Monday that doesn't bode well for the rest of the week.

There's this situation at work. It actually stated a couple months ago. While it wasn't anyone in my office's fault, it has meant clean up for us. Sigh. We've worked on it, but it has meant coordinating several different groups of people. Going into today, we thought we had all our ducks in a row. Apparently, one moved without us knowing it. After getting there at 7:00 so a coworker and I could deal with things prior to the rest of the troops arriving, we discovered the AWOL duck. Sigh. Actually, we discovered it in the midst of the process with things half done. As of 4:30, it was, while in better shape than at 7:00, still hanging. Mercy. It was enough of a Monday to count for the week and then some. Please beam me to Friday at about 4:30!

Aside from that, life has been going full speed. I don't feel like there is enough time to do everything that needs doing. I've felt more than a bit frazzled. Perhaps that is why my poor blog seems abandoned. Perhaps, I'll get to share my thoughts more this week. We can hope! I need to process and you all help me do that!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meeting the Neighbors

Last year my church, Crosswinds Community, bought a church building in the middle of a neighborhood on the south/west side of town. A church has been there for the last 90+ years. But it was no longer feasible for them to continue to meet and keep up the building. My church was thrilled to go into this neighborhood.

Last summer was a time of renovations and making the building reflect Crosswinds. But there was an eye on trying to reach out to the community. Indeed, several homeless men have come on a regular basis and been welcome. Last week one of them needed antibiotics. Those were taken care of for him.

All year there has been an eye out for ways to meet the neighbors. This week we had our VBS -- Kamp KidStuf. It is an offshoot of the children's ministry each Sunday during the school year. It involves drama, singing, dancing, and every crazy thing you can imagine. We hoped the neighbors would come and had gone door to door inviting.

As a culmination, we had a neighborhood block party last night. We were pleased that people who hadn't come to VBS showed up. Who can resist the bouncy inflatibles or the huge slide or free food? Some of the neighbors watched from safety across the street. One of the church members walked across and doled out ice cream sandwhiches because sometimes you have to go to the world rather than expecting the neighborhood/world to come to you.

Everyone seemed to have a grand time. Some neighbors I've been getting to know came. They are Christians and attend church, but I thought it would be fun -- especially for their 3 year old. Apparently, he sang/shouted a song we had sung "We are the children of God!" all the way home.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name -- Hope Chronicles 89

This week I've helped out some with my church's VBS -- entitled Kamp KidStuf. It's an offshoot of something we do every week during the school year. My role has been to take pictures. A couple nights ago, during a lull, I wandered outside. A father was saying that his 4-year-old (not from our church) wasn't sure he wanted to come. His explanation: "No one will say 'Jack'!"

Happily, he was wrong. The observant teacher read his nametag right away and called him by name. His fear of joining in was that no one would know him.

Honestly, that is one of my biggest fears too. It is the thing that makes me most timid.

The conversation reminded me of a show that aired when I was in highschool -- Cheers. It was set in a Boston bar called Cheers. The theme song went like this (be glad you cannot hear me sing):

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to go where people know
People are all the same
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

Isn't that the truth? There is something so refreshing, so meaningful about being called by your name. It reminds me of last year when I went to She Speaks 2008. No sooner than I had stepped out of the car then Lysa Terkeurst yelled at me from behind, "Amy!"

Later that night I was working on my talk in the hotel lobby. Lisa Whittle scared me from behind. We had never met, but she recognized me from my blog and greeted me warmly.

The next day I was at dinner with people I had never met. Most of us blogged and we were sharing our site names. I said, "My blog is God's Work In Progress. . . ." Sharon, across the table, let out a shriek. "You're Amy L Brooke. You're AMY L BROOKE!" For a moment, I thought she was mocking me for some reason I couldn't fathom. It turns out that she had read my little corner of blogdom and was that excited to meet me.

Do those things happen every day? No. They don't even happen on a semi annual basis. But God blessed me that weekend by giving me that sense of "everybody knowing my name." More importantly, it was great reminder of the fact that God knows my name.

God knows my name. The God of the universe who fashioned billions of people knows me intimately. He calls me his child. He never fumbles around as we sometimes do, "Andrea, Amanda, who ever you are!" I am never out of his mind, never out of his sight, never out of the reach of His hand. That is a wondrous hope when I start to feel like one of many or even like no one in particular. God knows my name.

Remembering those events from She Speaks 2008, makes me want to be even more adapt at remembering the names of those around me and if I don't know them, sincerely greeting them like Sharon greeted me -- excited for the opportunity. Imagine the hope that might pass on.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stress Fractures

Recently, I've had some unexplained foot and leg pain. Actually, it's been going on a couple of months. Sometimes, (though it seems more often or than not) I am waking up in the morning with swollen ankles and achy feet. Yes, I said waking up that way. It would make sense to me if it were later in the day. Even then, I don't know that it should be more often than not. The moment my feet touch the ground getting out of bed, they hurt. It's an achy kind of hurt, not a shooting pain or anything like that.

Initial, I thought it had something to do with the running. I backed off on that. However, not running for over a week didn't help and just doing the minimum the second week didn't either. Sleeping with my feel elevated for a month hasn't worked.

I finally called the doctor just to ask if it should be something I should be concerned about. It's not debilitating. I don't limp or hobble. It's just a constant ache. I felt a bit foolish but explained to the nurse that I was just checking about it. You see, my mom died from cancer. She started feeling poorly in January but just kind of ignored it. By the time she was diagnosed in October (the first time she got looked at), things were pretty bad. As a result, I am more likely than not to get things checked out.

Yes, they want to check into it especially since I had tried everything they would suggest already. So, I'm getting sort of a sonogram of my legs next week.

Of course I'm curious as to what it could be. The didn't say. I don't have a clue. My mind has played with possibilities. One being stress fractures. But I doubt that would be it in both feet at once! Having broken a tailbone and fractured some fingers, I think it might hurt worse than it does if this was the case.

As I considered the possibility of stress fractures, I zeroed in on what it means to have stress fractures in my life. Stress is a powerful thing. It can really discombobulate me. As a result, I am less pleasant to be around.

Stress can fracture my relationships. This morning, I am thinking particularly of work. Yesterday was a VERY stressful day. While my initial interactions with people were okay, as the day went on, those fractures shot out. One question too many. One too many things forgotten. One off the wall comment too many. One too many everything. By 2:00 I was chin deep in a project and didn't have patience for anything else. Yes, I was busy, but did I need to be short with people? Yes I was stressed, but did my words and demeanor need to fracture things with folks around me?

Today may be stressful too. The project is not yet done and is pretty important. But I don't want to fracture things anymore than I did yesterday. I will remember to breath. I will take 5 minutes to walk outside when things keep escalating. I will remember that God loves each person and expects me, out of love for Him, to treat everyone with kindness even when I'm stressed. Maybe even more so when I'm stressed. Being kind when everything is going well is easy. Being kind when things are overwhelming is a choice to depend on God and see people through His eyes.

What do you do to prevent or heal stress fractures in you day to day life?


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Letting Who I Know Overwhelm My Circumstances

I would not consider myself squeamish. I don't even know that I have any particular phobias. I can be cautious at times, but I don't get freaked out by spiders or heights or anything like that. In fact, for a number of years I took horseback riding lessons. A series of events and temperament ended up with me taking lessons on one of the biggest horses in the stable. While I was more hesitant at jumps after a fall, I always go back on and set my sites on higher jumps. So, height was not the issue one day at camp.

I stood on the tall block willing myself to relax. I told myself, "Close your eyes. Just lean back. They will catch you." But I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I'm posting today at the Internet Cafe. Click here to finish reading this post.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Contentment -- Priceless

I know you've seen them -- those commercials for Visa.

  • New shoes -- $20
  • New dress -- $75
  • New hairstyle with highlights -- $100
  • Memories to last a lifetime -- Priceless.
Visa has our number. If $200 can promise something that is priceless, and will last a lifetime, of course we are going to buy.

When I was in college, I attended InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's School of Leadership Training. One of the sessions was actually on advertising and all the subtle meanings that are played out before our eyes and that we buy hook, line, and singer. Some of them were dated but some of you might remember them. The question that was raised was, "It looks like they are selling coffee, but what are they really selling?"
  • Early morning sunrise. A farm. A colt. A coffee pot -- Folgers, good to the last drop. (Selling peace and an idyllic life that no one I know lives.)
  • Cute kid singing, "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener, 'cause if I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner, everyone would be in love with me." (Selling the idea that everyone should love us.)
  • Light bulbs, computers, a vast array of progress -- GE, we bring good things to life. (Selling that all these things are at the heart of what is good in life.)
  • And then the Marlboro Man and the ultra thin model and the red corvette selling ideas of how we need to look and act and the car we need to own to really be someone.
Really, what advertisers prey on is instilling in us at a young age (think Saturday morning cartoons) is sense of discontent. Our society trains us to think that I want is synonymous with I need. The truth is that I want a lot of things. I need just a few -- food, shelter, safety, etc. So much of what we have is a luxury that once we become accustomed to it, we think it falls into the need category instead of a want and lucky to have had kind of thing.

So, I've been thinking about this the last few days. I've found myself trying to think of ways to pare down my monthly expenses. I don't like feeling strapped. (I don't suppose anyone does.) How interesting to face the reality that much of my life is made up of indulgences, luxuries that I now think I need. I find myself resistant to cutting them and looking at others and saying, "But they have X, Y, Z so I should have it too!" Not true.

But envy breeds discontentment.

So, I have to catch myself. What do I need? What if my wants lined up with my needs and not with what society says? What if my heart was fixed on God so that He was all I wanted? What if my heart was set like David's in Psalm 27:4?

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

That would be true contentment. That would be priceless. Sorry Visa, a credit card isn't buying that now or ever. It's a free gift to those who set the eyes of their hearts on the Lord. Though, sometimes it takes effort to focus on that.

God, show me the pricelessness of conentment in You.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cheering Section

Having a puppy has put me outside more. The three-year-old neighbor boy has taken a liking to both me and Hadley. Truth be told, we've taken a liking to him and the rest of his family too.

The Lake Run Club sponsors a "Kids Run for Fun" program each Friday night in the summer. They run in age groups a quarter of a mile. Last Friday, I had the opportunity to go cheer Alex on. He was excited to have "Miss Amy" come watch. I think he would have also liked to have Hadley, but I thought it was best that she stay home.

I enjoyed cheering him on as he ran past. He was excited to show his ribbon (all the kids get them).

I wasn't involved in a ton of come-watch activities growing up. However, I do remember being in some school plays in junior high. I also remember being thrilled when the youth minister and his wife and some of the families that we babysat for came to watch. White Oak Junior High's rendition of the "Convertible Teacher" was very far off Broadway. I doubt that it was at the top of the list in entertainment. But they came to support us and not because there was any great talent.

Kids need people -- outside of their parents -- to take an interest in them. I think it helps them feel valued. But as I've thought about it, grown ups need that kind of interest too. Don't we all want some one to take an interest in something we do?

The problem is that life is so busy that we lose sight of that. What child or teen can you cheer on by going to a game or a show? What adult can you cheer on? Maybe they are into sports or drama or maybe they've been working hard at exercise and weight loss or some other accomplishment. What would it mean to them to get a note from you?

Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a culture where everyone had their own personal cheering section?