Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sweet Music of Life, 2009

I had hoped to end the year by reflecting on some of the sweet and memorable music of my life in 2009, but a sick computer likely will prevent that from happening. I'm posting this from work in hopes that I will return to the topic when I can. It doesn't have to be on New Year's Eve, right? Right!

I will say that it was a very good year, for lessons learned and how I handled things, as much as anything. Is it coincidental that it was also the year I turned 50? Or maybe it was because I read through the Bible in a year. Regardless, there is much to reflect on and continue to learn from even as I look forward into another year of promise.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grateful and blessed

Wow! That week went nothing like planned. For the first time in years, I actually finished my Christmas shopping, getting something for everyone on my list (except one person) by 10:15 p.m. Dec. 23. (And I stumbled across the perfect gift for that person while dining together Christmas Eve and was able to make the purchase!)

As I was finishing up my shopping and growing in my sense of accomplishment, I was also growing anxious about the weather and whether these gifts would make it to their recipients. Was it possible I would have the gifts to give, but miss the best gift of all, which is seeing my family to whom I wanted to give gifts? Yes, it was highly possible, as it turned out.

I don't know how to adequately thank my boss and the people I work most closely with for making it possible for me not to have to try to drive 25 miles north from Norman to north Oklahoma City by myself in my Mustang in the sleet on Christmas Eve morning. I know it was a very busy day and difficult for all of them, workwise and travelwise. But I am convinced that, had I tried it, I would have been one of the many people stuck along the way who had to be rescued, either on the way to work (that's what I think) or on the way home. And if Gene and I would have waited any longer to head south to Texas, I don't think we would have made it. Even leaving at 12:30 p.m., those first 15 miles were treacherous enough that if I had been by myself, I would have tried to turn back. (And I probably would have ended up getting stuck in the process.)

As it turned out, we were finally able to make it to McKinney Thursday evening to spend Christmas Eve and much of Christmas Day with Gene's sister and her son. And then we were able to head to Mom and Dad's house west of Gainesville while my brother and his family from Arkansas were still there. Then we stayed with another sister west of Muenster, where more of the family arrived to celebrate on Saturday. I ended up getting to see everyone except one sister (who lives near the homeplace but had to work), a niece, a newlywed nephew and his wife, a newlywed niece and her husband and the fiancee of another nephew.

And although I didn't get to go to Christmas Eve worship, and I chose one more meal with family members over going to worship this morning, I went to Sunday school with Mom, and it's such a great class and lesson that I felt like I'd been to church.

Now we're back home in Norman. Our kitty was glad to see us; she was safe and sound. Gene shoveled the driveway and we ventured out again to Walmart, which surprisingly had not done a very good job of clearing its parking lot. I guess they saw no need to do better, since people were flocking in anyway!

There's so much more I could write, but I have things to do (including pet my kitty some more) before I head to work tomorrow. But I wanted to write this bit while it's fresh in my mind. I'm pretty sure I'll add to it and maybe even post some pictures.

I will add right now that even though, without the Christmas Eve service, some of the "reason for the season" focus of Christmas wasn't felt as clearly, I probably prayed more than I ever have during that drive from Norman to McKinney. And I'm really glad Mom went to Sunday school this morning and I could go, too. I just see more evidence every day that God wants me to put Him first -- to seek to know and do His will and NEVER to forget or ignore Him. It doesn't mean I have to spend all my time at church or reading the Bible or praying or forcing people to sing carols and read the Christmas story from the Bible when we're together. But it does mean that the time I spend in those ways will be rewarded and blessed, and that it will equip me to know how to live the rest of the moments to their fullest.

For all these reasons and so many more, I am grateful and blessed!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joyous and blessed

I thought I had to write something, then I sat down to do it, and the words just .... jumbled? Scrambled? Froze? This still happens to me often. I am so overwhelemed with feelings and thoughts that I want to express, and I just cannot find the words.

The inspiration for this latest ... what is the word I'm looking for? ... sense of blessings overflowing is two services of worship with my church family. The fairly few faithful of the early morning service, with the heartfelt singing of the Singing Seniors and our beloved Ben, and then the later service overflowing with people there for the children's program. We are blessed to have spirited singers of all ages, whose souls shine through the words and melodies of Christmas.

And my heart soars at the opportunity to be able to offer my little bit. The last verse of "In the Bleak Midwinter" shares my longing:
What can I give him, poor as I am
If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
What I can, I give him -- give my heart!

One of my Scripture readings (or, more likely, the accompanying devotional) this week reminded me that I believe God gives each of us specific gifts. And surely one of mine is singing. And the interesting thing about it is, that doesn't mean he made me the most wonderful singer in the world or even the best singer in my church or family or circle of friends. It just means that he gave me that gift, and he wants me to find ways to use it to His glory. And when I do that, I am blessed, and others are blessed.

Another interesting thing about it, though, is that if EVER I try to sing because I want some glory or attention, IT DOESN'T WORK!!!!! Others may or may not like what they hear, but it rings hollow within me.

Today, I am joyous and blessed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Target practice

This is one of those nights I needed to just sit down and write. I got home early, because the latest haircut appointment I could get was 5:30. Taking off early today offset some of last week's long days. I was glad to be able to do it, even though I'd forgotten how bad traffic is between north Oklahoma City and Norman at 5 p.m. on a weekday. I was 10 minutes late, but it didn't seem to be a problem. I'm grateful for that.

I stopped at Target afterward, trying to decide what to take for my department's Christmas lunch tomorrow. I'd decided to make my own variation of festive Christmas Tree Appetizers (the recipe will be in the newspaper tomorrow, but I know it already, because I edited it!). But I talked myself out of it. And that brings me to why I'm writing tonight.

I'm trying to peel back some of the layers of whatever it is I get hung up in or covered up by each December. I don't expect to get it all sorted through this year. I have no expectations regarding results.

At times in my life, I've called this exercise verbal vomit. But that was when the confusion in my head seemed hopeless, sick and nothing but negative. That's not the case now. I still don't understand why I think and act the way I do -- and why I can't just change those many, many things I don't like about how I think and act -- but most of the time I don't feel hopeless or depressed about these things now. I'm able to say a prayer, count some blessings and find a positive step. (It may sound trite or cliche, but simply saying a prayer and finding something to be grateful for has changed every situation I've ever allowed it to touch.)

Anyway, what I faced tonight at Target was something I seem to have done all of my adult life. It's Christmastime, and I'm shopping -- and I have no idea what to buy. I can't decide what to buy for presents, for food to take to parties, for decorations. Sometimes I think I've decided (see the Christmas Tree Appetizers, above), and then I talk myself out of it. My arguments against are always sound and typically are born of experience. In the food situation, I know if I take food, I will want to eat food. And if I start eating party food at work, I'll eat too much and feel miserable. (That's not even considering that I'd probably start eating too much while I was preparing the food.) Most people may be able to eat too much and not feel miserable or at least not let it ruin their day, but I'm not those people. So I bought a bag of healthy chips and will just take that. I'm going to try to socialize without eating the goodies. I don't know if I can. But today I declined one of my most favorite snacks -- Chex mix made just right (just the right amount of extra butter, nuts and seasoning) -- and don't feel deprived. So I know it's possible.

That's all I'm going to write about tonight. Maybe I'll explore more of these later, such as why it's so hard to even figure out which GIFT CARDS to buy family members.

I wish I could think of a better ending. Oh well. Time to go wash clothes, pedal or something. Gratefully and smiling.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Not that person (preview)

When I see what other people write on blogs and in columns and see their paintings and sketches and photographs and hear their singing and read about their cooking or acting or dancing or parenting or shopping or organization or housecleaning, it's all I can do not to wonder WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME????? I have so little to do and can't seem to get any of it done!

Sometimes I think the older I get, the more mundane and mediocre I get, while all those around me seem to be finding their voice and gaining confidence in their expression and individuality.

Among the things that keep me from sinking into depression:
-- Faith and prayer.
-- Unconditional love of family and friends (and God).
-- Zoloft (you decide whether I'm kidding).
-- Remembering to count my blessings. They are there if I look.
-- Offering encouragement to others.

And I have to remember:
I'm not any of those people. I'm not that person. I am this person. Can I believe that God created me to be just the way I am? Maybe the hardest part is having faith in a God who would create me to be just the way I am. What kind of a trick was that?

And still, I know, God is great. I am blessed. And the journey of the spirit continues .....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Following through

It's been a week since I last wrote anything here, and one of my most basic goals was to write something at least once a week. So here I am, even though I feel tired and probably have more important things to be doing.

I'm trying to become more disciplined, and maybe this is another small step. But in so doing, will I skip my daily discipline of reading three devotionals and some Scripture while pedaling my exercise bike? Unfortunately, if I skip the bike, I don't seem to sleep or digest as well. (And it's not as if I'm over-exercising; I go 30 minutes at the most, with virtually no tension!) So I'll probably go ahead and read at least a little while pedaling some, and praying.

While trying to decide whether I would actually write anything tonight, I thought of several topics and talked myself out of all except this. But now some of them are trying to fight their way into expression. I want to save them for another day, but fear I won't get to them. (Now I've spent about 15 minutes trying to write about them, and I just can't do it. So I guess there's my answer for tonight. I'll save that writing for another day and just keep praying about the issues for now.)