Monday, July 30, 2007

Using my goodies

For years i've collected scrapbooking goodies: papers, stickers, alphabets, tools. . . oh, and rubber stamps and inks and pens, and scissors that make cool edges. And paper punches in shapes. And glues and tapes. But for years i hadn't done anything with all the stuff except for collect it. Once upon a time, pretty much in the stone ages of scrapbooking when there were only pens and solid colored papers and maybe a punch or two, i started scrapbooking. Not unlike many things in my life, including a hand-stitched quilt i started for my oldest when she was 8 and finished (on the machine) for her 18th birthday, after an initial burst of energetic scrapbooking, my supplies sat idly in their containers.

i think in a way i was afraid to attack the scrapbooking of our millions of photos. When i started scrapbooking back in the day, it was a simple thing. When i started thinking i'd like to get started again, i took a walk through a local scrapbooking and rubber stamping store, California Stampin'. OH MY. Miles of stickers and papers and embellishments (a word i had not previously known) filled the aisles. More miles of pens and glitters and chalks and endless colored ink pads filled a few more aisles. Magazines and books on scrapbooking and card making filled an entire wall. Overload!
If only i did not like taking pictures so much--and if i had not had children who had then given me grandchildren, or gone on vacations, i would not have so many photos to organize. But i attacked the organization of said photos, cleared myself a space to work, and stared blankly. Organized photos, organized supplies, and no ideas for moving forward.

Between seeing the themed (non-chronological) albums of an Alabama cousin, and finding the magazine named (perfectly for me) Simple Scrapbooks, i began actually using some of my long-hoarded supplies!!! i was on fire!! i made a heritage album of old photos from my husband's side of the family, and then one titled "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" for last year's vacation photos (with room for more,) and an entire Hawaii album for our 30th anniversary trip. Now i've attacked my chronological family photos once again--i'm trying to make my way out of the 90's, having just finished 1997 yesterday evening with Scrubs as background noise.

So if you feel i have disappeared from sight, i've only gone as far as the 90's. i'll try to be back before the Y2K bug hits.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And on a lighter note...

Tired, grim winter couch and pillows (not to mention the patch of paint on the wall behind where i've tried out a color.)

Bright, cheerful SPRING couch and cushions.

Some people spring clean. This is my way of welcoming the sunlight and fresh air and lighter feel of the, i'm really not that big a fan of cleaning. It's like i used to say when my mother-in-law would try to tell me how much she enjoyed getting the bottom of a pan clean as new: "i have hobbies."
The spot of color is still on the wall behind. i haven't gone quite so crazy as to finish that. But a couple of bits of fabric and a mile or so of white thread and i'm happy to spend my cleaning time sewing.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A week (or two) in the life

Lately i've had some pretty interesting Bible passages come up. In what i'm sure some would term quite unspiritual fashion, i've taken a totally random approach to finding Bible verses to read. Kind of the ol' "flip and find" style of choosing.

Recently i've voiced concerns to friends, family, and to God Himself. "i'm so dang tired of feeling like crap," i said. "i keep complaining about the same old stuff," i said. So as i threw these words around, i decided to do a bit more journaling of what Bible reading i do. (i would love to say that i get up every day at the butt-crack of dawn and have a glorious time of Bible reading and prayer before running 5 miles. But even seeing that in writing on this page makes me laugh.)

i'm a bit random in my approach to many things--or, "creative" as i prefer to call myself. i have no real plan for housework--when the floor has more dog hair on it than the dogs, i clean it. When there are more pans in the sink than on the pot rack, i wash them. When company's coming, i dust. (And by "i" i mean frequently i make Jarel do it.) There is no "Thursday laundry day" at my house--when i have to start wearing my fancy underwear, i wash clothes. When we're down to carrots and oatmeal in the kitchen, i shop. i sew when the mood strikes me, i exercise even less. All that to say, i'm not the most focused person on the planet.

Why did i feel the need to tell you all that? i suppose so that you won't assume i'm not taking God lightly. i'm simply being consistently random.

So, after all my frustrated complaining, i decided to just pick a passage in the Bible and see what it had to say. The Bible study we friends had been doing (for quite some long time now) by somebody Blackaby called "Experiencing God" has talked about how our times of understanding God through His words in the Bible IS an experience with God. And who couldn't use a little one on one time with the Big Guy?

So i flipped my Bible open to where the attached satin ribbon bookmark was nestled. Isaiah 38, i suppose there because that's midway through the Bible. ANYway, it's a chapter that tells about King Hezekiah's illness. God had even told him he was going to die. For obvious reasons that news did not thrill the king, so he prayed and cried out to God, and God listened and added years to his life. King H even wrote a poem afterward about it--he said that the experience taught him humility, and being allowed to live gave him reason to praise God, as "only the living" could.

i'm not going to die from fibromyalgia, but some days i'm mighty cranky about it. So what experience did i have through those verses with the God who made me? Thoughts of hope, thoughts of purpose, and the realization that life allows me to continue learning.

Another day i picked up my Bible and began to thumb through--what did i think i want to read this time, old testament or new? Job 30 caught my attention. i loved this! Quoting straight from my New Living translation, "I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely." OH somebody's been looking inside my head! Disgusted with the constant exhaustion/pain/lack of enthusiasm for life. Job was saying that it didn't matter to God whether or not he was guilty or innocent, sinful or righteous, God was still choosing to punish him. Job was very honest before God--"You made me, why do you want to harm me? I am right before You."

That's the age old question--why does bad crap happen to good people? What did i hear in those words of Job? i can be honest before God. i can say how i feel, tell him i don't think it's very fair that i have this fat bump in my road. i'm a good person, right? i don't deserve this stupid pain. i can complain freely.

Another day, another random passage--and feeling particularly out of hope that day. New Testament this time: Hebrews 4:14-15. Jesus faced all our same temptations, so he understands our weaknesses. These verses talk about how we can have Jesus as our "high priest" (more on that later--) so we can go to him and ask for mercy and grace when we need it. This brought to my mind the question, what are my weaknesses and temptations? i'm easily tempted to lose hope, easily tempted to get stuck in the "now" of how lousy i feel. i start feeling like i will always feel exactly this way--too tired and awful to live. i lose the bigger picture, that there's more to me and my life than the way i feel at this exact moment of hopelessness. And i'm a big proponent of hope--i try to give others hope in their trials, but i'm having trouble finding any in mine. More time doesn't speak to healing, just to more physical and mental pain.

So what did i "hear" in those verses? Again, i can speak honestly to God my Father, this time with a dose of "he understands because he's been there."

The next time i read more in Hebrews, this time 5:1-10. This explained what a high priest was--someone who represents other people in their dealings with God. He understands them because he is one of them, having their same human weaknesses and temptations. But he must be called by God for the position, simply waking up one day and saying, "Hey, I think I want to be a high priest," doesn't do it. So, how does Jesus figure into that whole "high priest" bit? While he was walking around on earth like the rest of us, he was tempted, he prayed for deliverance from the pain of the death he faced. But he prayed to his Father to understand and make the choice that would be best. He processed to the point of obedience to a bigger picture.

i have a problem with obedience. The very word is hard for me to say. i suppose that comes from having grown up in a home where i pretty much obeyed to stay out of trouble. i didn't obey because i believed my parents had my best in mind and i trusted their judgment, like in some "Leave it to Beaver" world. i obeyed because the alternative was not too pleasant, and i prefer pleasant. So, as a child i didn't gladly obey out of a trust relationship, and i still have trouble with the concept. i'm clear on this. So i'm working on trusting God. i've got the whining/ begging/ pleading thing down.

Next random verse: Colossians 2: 6-10. Verses 6 and 7 say, "Continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done." Hello. Obedience again. What's up with that?

How do i let my life overflow with thanksgiving? It's like all those stinking thank you notes my mother made me write as a kid (i know, i'm a better person for it--) once i would stop to remember what i had received i'd be happy all over again for it. So, remember. Make a list. What has my Father done for me?
-helped me survive my childhood by being there for me
-found me family in my husband and his little girl
-showed me His willingness to walk with me in tough times
-showed me His comfort in pain
-even now, helping me learn to trust him as i could not trust my birth parents
-taught me the value of truth in life and relationships
-given me the desire to encourage and love others.

That's just some of it.

Most recent random verses: Romans 8:9-25. This passage tells me that i'm under no obligation to do what my human nature wants me to do--that's a different spin on the idea of my less-than-optimum life/health choices: "under no obligation" to them. When i think of my human nature, my brain goes automatically toward my weaknesses, such as my passion for all things creamy, fatty, and chocolate, or my lack of passion for exercise. But i owe those things no loyalty. Different spin.

We also"groan to be released from pain and suffering." God gave us his Holy Spirit to give us a taste of "future glory"--is that maybe when we're done with life on earth with its brokenness and decay? So i get the groaning, i get the brokenness, i just tend to forget there's a future.

So, i must ask you, how "random" were all of these verses i read? i mean, take a look: King H was gonna die. He prayed, he lived, he learned from it. Job, a righteous man, a good guy, being honest with God--"I'm disgusted with my life." Followed by Jesus as our high priest, one who understands our weaknesses, someone who has struggled to see the bigger picture and questioned God the Father, something i understand. Top that with a walk through staying rooted in him by being obedient, seasoned with a dash of communal groaning for release from the stuff that steals our hope.

All of that seems to have a theme--maybe there is no "random" with God--yes, there is pain, there is suffering. Friends get cancer, we get sick. Brokenness happens. But where is my hope to be found? i know the Sunday School answer is "Jesus!" But i need a bit more detail than that, a bit more direction. So, how about hope found in the details of that list i made of ways God has shown His love for me, prompted by those verses in Colossians. How about in all the verses that said, "You have lots of company in the struggle to make sense of your pain." Where can i find comfort? Probably in those "random" verses in Hebrews telling me that Jesus understands pain and temptation because he's been there.

i've spent three days writing this--really, i'm gonna stop now! But it's been an interesting creatively random wander. . .