Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day Trip 2006

So, I went to the beach with my book club over Memorial Day weekend. It was a blast, of course--the book club consists of several of my closest friends, so that was a delightful time. It was rainy and nasty through Sunday, but Monday was beautiful and we made it to the top of Mt. Hebo, which I think is my very favorite place in the whole world. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I have a problem with controlling my reactions. I tend to stress out whenever anything goes wrong. Afterwards I always think, "Lord, I don't want to freak out at the slightest sign of adversity. Teach me to respond with patience and peace and trust in you and what you're doing in my life."

So, here is some of the stuff that happened this week and how I responded:

- Toilet oveflowed and flooded church bathroom at wedding shower--hahaha.
- Parent of youth complained to my supervisor at work--no problem.
- Housing situation suddenly became uncertain and stressful--oh no!
- Lost grocery list for weekend getaway and had to improvise--grrrr.
- Downpour drenched me and caused me to hammer my finger--OW!!!
- Groceries for beach trip got stuck in my stupid trunk--RAWWWRR!
- Stuck in bumper to bumper traffic (only 12 miles in 1 1/2 hours)--whatever.
- Received my first traffic citation ($242.00 for speeding in passing lane)--perfect end to this day!

So, in a week's time I cheerfully cleaned up an inch of urine and toilet water, kept cool while receiving criticism, felt uncertain about housing stuff, got irritated over losing a grocery list, blew up over hammering my finger, seethed over locked groceries, tolerated terrible traffic and recieved my first ticked with an ironic grin. So...a couple times I responded well...but there's still a lot of room for improvement. What really stinks, is that I think the only way to get better at this is to keep practicing (which requires more adverse situations).

Sunday, May 7, 2006

May I Please Have A Redo?

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where at the end of it you look back and wish you could do it over again? Today was one of those days.

Someone did something that frustrated me, because it seemed irresponsible. My first reaction was anger. And annoyance. So, when I saw the person I felt the need to let them know how disappointed I was in them. I think my exact words were, "You are so dead."

The thing was, the person knew they'd messed up and already felt bad about it. So I'm wondering why I felt the need to "punish" them with my attitude. That's not the sort of person I want to be.

I want to be the sort of person who can say, "Oops, you can I help you fix it?" The sort of person who encourages and affirms people rather than tears them down.

So I apologized. And then I asked God for a redo. I mean, not that the day can happen over again, but that the next time someone around me messes up, I will be able to respond with grace and love--as is befitting of someone who is so in need of God's love and grace to cover over all of my own mistakes. Like how I goofed on my attitude today.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Of Mice and Women

When my cousin and I arrived at the beach, we were surprised to find the cabin already inhabited! In the kitchen, one of the cupboards was littered with tiny poop pellets and strewn with remnants of chewed on popcorn and hot cocoa. Yuck! We purchased some poison blocks and placed them strategically throughout the cabin--except of course in the room we were sleeping in. We just shut the door to keep any prowling rodents from our sleeping sanctuary. Tucked into bed with the heater on and a wall between us and the mice we felt cozy and secure.

The next morning, we felt even better. The poison had been a success! 4 of the 6 blocks of poison were completely gone. The second night no more poison was consumed, so we sighed in relief, assured that we had effectively rid ourselves of the mouse population. That is, until the last day. As we were getting ready to leave, I opened up a dresser drawer that had extra towels in it and was horrified to see a 5-inch "giant mouse" scurry out and into the closet (I later learned that 5-inch mice dont exist--it was a rat!) Eww! To make a long story (and a 15 minute home video) short, we never captured the rat despite a quite-desperate hunt that involved moving furniture and poking into corners with a broom. What we did find was a nest of squirming, squeaking newborn baby "mice" in a drawer of towels that was less than three feet from where we had been sleeping!

They were just a couple days old with hardly any hair and unopened eyes. We didn't know what to do! It's one thing to poison nameless, faceless mice but quite another to harm these defenseless babies with teensy little whiskers and claws. But the fact remained that baby rodents grow to be adult rodents who in turn make more baby rodents. We didn't want to hurt them (they were kinda' cute afterall), but we certainly did not want them infesting the cabin. I considered bringing them home for pets, but we figured by this time there was already a good chance they'd been poisoned by their mama's milk. So we hauled them out to the empty lot next to the cabin and piled them up together for warmth under brush that we hoped would keep them hidden from predators.
The funny thing is, it was hard for me to leave them there. Even having seen what their relatives and friends had done to our food cupboard, I couldn't help but want to root for them. They seemed so little and harmless!

Kind of like our sin.

Just like the pellet-strewn food cupboard, sometimes we can see the destructive results of our sin. It's stinky and messy and repulsive, and so we work to get rid of the bad habits or unloving attitudes or the proud self-reliance that has gotten us into the predicament in which we find ourselves when we try to do things our way instead of God's way. But sometimes our bad actions or attitudes seem harmless--or even desirable. Maybe it's attractive to us, like that relationship that we don't want to let go of even though we know that it inhibits our walk with God. Or maybe it seems so small that we don't think it can really do any harm--like when we ignore a source of temptation in our life or when we vent our frustrations about one friend to another.

But the Bible says that baby sins grow into rat-sized sins. "Each person is tempted when they are lured away and enticed by their own evil desires. And after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. When sin is full-grown, it produces death" (James 1:14-15). Sin is a serious business. All of us has a problem with it. We've all sinned and we all deserve spiritual death (separation from God). Jesus offered to pay that debt for us by giving up his own life, and if we've accepted that substitutionary gift from him, we don't have to worry about eternal separation from God. But there are still immediate consequences to sin. God made us, and he has given us an instruction manual on how we'll work best (just like I have a manual for my Camry). When we go against his instructions, things break down in our life. That's why he wants us to follow the instructions in the first place! He made us and he knows what's best for us. I'd be crazy to fill up my Camry's tank with maple syrup. Think of the mess! So why do I think that I can choose my own way to live without making a mess of my life?

So here I am again. I'm in that place where I'm evaluating my heart and trying to root out those "cute, little" sins. You know, the ones I thought were too small to make much of a mess. Self-reliance is there. And pride. And harsh judgmentalness. Selfishness, apathy. How did those sneak back in there, again!? Whew! Who knew my soul would be so full of vermin! I think I better go have a talk with the wonderful, merciful Exterminator!