Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stumbling: Negativity

Ugh!  I don't know what it is with me and negativity.  We've been best buds lately.  It's so easy to commiserate with people around me who are complaining rather than being the optimistic one in the crowd.  At work, we've had a lot of setbacks lately over which we have no control, and instead of keeping the mood positive, I've joined in with the complaining.  What is up with that?  I have so much to be thankful for and so many reasons to praise God.

The gospel of Mark tells a miraculous story of a woman who had suffered a hemorrhage for twelve years.  Twelve years!  I can't imagine suffering anything for twelve years, but she did, and she trusted in Jesus so much that she believed she only had to touch the hem of His cloak to be relieved of this suffering.  After twelve years, all she needed was to touch the hem of His cloak.  And it worked.  He turned around and told her "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."  (Mark 5:25-34)

I'm not suffering any such disease.  I'm not suffering any disease of the body, in fact, and yet, so often, I fail to trust God for the simplest things.  I fail even to take my concerns to Him in prayer, and why?  Maybe I'm just lazy, but I have the feeling that it's deeper than that, that somewhere in my heart of hearts, I doubt Him, which doesn't make any sense at all.  I trust that He is my Lord and Savior and that He died in my place and for that reason, I am saved from the pit of hell.  So why can't I trust Him with the things of this earth?  (Didn't know this post was going here, but it did.  Hmm.)

This reminds me of that children's song "Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your blessings, see what God has done."  I forget to do that.  I need to remember to be as a little child more often.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My parents and I watched Fireproof last night. Though a bit predictable, the film is still enjoyable and offers good life lessons for both married couples and those singles who hope someday to be married. However, those lessons might arguably be applied not just to a marriage but also to ordinary friendships and even acquaintanceships. (Spell check says this is not a word, but I don't care.)

I struggle a lot with negativity--about myself and about other people--especially when I'm with other people who like to talk negatively. This sometimes surprises people because I usually manage to hide it well, but then it all comes out (kind of like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks shows up at her date and she thinks he's making fun of her and all of that nastiness just spills out of her and then later she feels just terrible - it's like that). Anyway, today, I had a small tiff with a co-worker. I think she felt I was over-stepping my bounds and taking work that should have been hers (which, really, it is her work, but our boss had asked me to print something - anyway, the details aren't important). So I happily turned the printing over to her and forwarded her the file, and all was well. I let our boss know that she would be taking care of the document. Then, after she had finished her work, she left, and most days, I would have gone and belly-ached to another of our co-workers about how she had treated me and talked down to me and blah blah blah, but it seemed so pointless to create antagonism in the office when it wasn't even a big deal at all.

So why am I writing this and what does it have to do with Fireproof? Well, I haven't read The Love Dare (which is used in the movie and which you can now buy at pretty much any bookstore anywhere), but the first lesson is not to say anything negative to your spouse. If you can't think of anything positive to say, don't say anything at all. That's a great practice, yes, but what if, then, you go and say a whole bunch of negative stuff about your spouse? (I'm sure this is in the book somewhere - it's in another book anyway.) Sure, you didn't say anything to their face, but you are reinforcing in your own mind the negative views you have of them, still a destructive behavior.

I am so thankful for the grace of God building me up in His love to overflowing. Without that love, of course negativity is going to overwhelm me and pour out, but if I am filled with God's love, then what else can spill out but love? Yet when the flesh does prevail and I fail to uphold God's command to love my neighbor, He forgives me and gives me another chance to try and does not forsake me, though I have forsaken Him.

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39 NASB)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where's the Love?

(I used to rock out to this Hanson song all the time. Actually, I am right now.)

Last year, I started watching "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." I had a marathon of online episodes because I missed the first half of the season, and then I dutifully watched each Monday evening for the newest hour of this dramatic saga. I don't watch it anymore. I stopped because I had musical rehearsal during the regular airing of the show's new season, and by the time I got home the next night, I wasn't really feeling like watching a bunch of bratty teenagers rag on each other. That same conflict did not stop me from watching the newest ABC Family ("a new kind of family") series "Make It or Break It." I thought maybe it would be like that movie Stick It, with all the powerhouse gymnastics. I was wrong. It's still a bunch of interpersonal and family drama. Last night, as I sat in front of the TV (knitting a hat) and waiting for "Make It or Break It" to come on, I caught the end of "Secret Life." So much drama. My dad was rearranging furniture and hence, subject to the sound of the television, and his only question was "Don't any of these people like each other?" He must have asked that half a dozen times over the hour and half that we watched these two shows. So that got me wondering, why does it seem that all of the shows that are popular right now feature storylines in which most of the characters not only dislike each other but actively work to destroy one another's lives (or at least make them extremely difficult)? Where is the family in this "new kind of family"? What are we teaching our children (by letting them watch these kinds of programs) about how families and friendships are supposed to work? Hardly anyone is happily married anymore. Everyone has secrets that could potentially ruin each other's lives. If you have a boyfriend, he's probably cheating on you with your best friend. Don't trust anyone. Your parents, if they appear in your life at all, are either trying to live through you or destroy you (not to mention all the drama of their own they're trying to work through).

And even if the goal of this whole "new kind of family" thing is to emphasize that your family doesn't just include people who are actually related to you, there should be some kind of bonding going on, and I really haven't seen that. Maybe I'm missing it, and it's really there, but somehow, I can't imagine having a family that is constantly betraying each other and going behind each other's backs and competing and trying to hurt each other. Sure, I've been blessed with a pretty solid, supportive family (of the related and non-related kind) so maybe I'm just spoiled. Still, it would be nice to see a family that, while it's not perfect, it is trying (kind of like the Keelers on "Make It or Break It", though they've got problems galore looming on the horizon with Payson).

So how does this cycle of negativity stop? Well, I guess we'd have to stop watching, stop buying into whatever "new kind of family" this is and look to a higher standard than what the world says we can achieve. A different "new kind of family" - one in which the members can depend on one another, where everyone's needs are met and everyone has something to offer and no one is left hungry in any way. That sounds like my kind of family.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Idle Hands

Well, it's another slow day at the workplace, and I've finished Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. I'm sure there are so many busy work projects I could be pursuing and yet I find myself sitting idly at the computer (after so many games of free cell) and chatting with my best friend who herself is enduring a slow day at her workplace. Really, I should be in the library, finishing up the electronic catalog, but spending time alone among the dusty stacks sends my brain toward a certain someone currently away on holiday. Not that my brain isn't there already.

See, I have this overactive imagination that so often veers towards earthly things rather than things above, and more than likely, it's thinking of a boy. (This is not always true, but it mostly is, at least when I have a boy on whom to fixate.) This tendency is neither constructive nor healthy nor does it actually lead to decent narratives of a publishable nature. Things tend to wrap up entirely too quickly and neatly and happily to make for anything really worth reading. They do, however, help to pass the time, which is why I am typing here rather than indulging in another time-wasting fantasy. Unfortunately, I have run out of words and thus must suspend further musings to a later time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


So I've tried this before and failed miserably, but then I'm dreadful at journaling, too, but I figure if maybe I can tap out a few words on the computer, I might be a bit better at keeping up. But why keep a blog anyway, right? Well, maybe for a little accountability, if only to myself. If I write something down, I'll have to face it later. So here goes...

I don't know what will come in posts to follow because I don't know what God has in store for my life. I know He has a plan, and there are days when I think I know what I want that plan to be (and what I don't want it to be). Other times, I haven't a clue, but I do know that I want my life to be glorifying to Him, to praise Him in my thoughts and words and actions, in what I do and what I don't do. So I guess that struggle - the daily triumphs and failures - might make it in here.

This is an exercise in humility, in admitting that I'm not perfect and that I can't stand on my own. I fall down, sometimes hard and sometimes a lot and sometimes it's hard to get up, and I couldn't do it without the grace of God.

I am so blessed, and so often I forget to share that blessing with the people God has put in my life. My every move should proclaim the grace of God. So this I pray: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality (Romans 12: 9-13 NASB). I pray for plain, honest speech and a heart that loves as God loves and that shares that love constantly.