Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Good Day

(Psalmcat 50:2.28.10)

Yesterday was a good day. I cared and shared. I played. I shopped. I enjoyed the sunshine. I cheered as my favorite sports teams won. I laughed out loud at a silly political/cultural satire show.

I easily could have squandered that good day. I didn't get to do everything I wanted to, and deciding what to do wasn't easy. And as I decided what to do and just did it, I was tempted to second-guess. Am I doing the right thing? Should I be doing that instead of this? What about all those important things (chores, responsibilities, maintenance) I could/should be doing on a Saturday?

Fortunately, I didn't let those questions pull me down. I lived and enjoyed. I smiled. I SMILED! After a week with some workdays in which I had to force myself to smile, it was wonderful for smiles to be effortless.

And I'm still smiling today. At church, at Walmart. Even while I tackled some of those chores I neglected yesterday.

Today's not perfect. Neither was yesterday. There were miscommunications. I didn't get to do some of the things I wanted to do or see some of the people I wanted to see. I lost my gray cashmere scarf. My car is dirty, and its interior and my carry-all bags are in complete disarray. The weather's beautiful again, and I would love to be outside.

But today is good, just like yesterday was good. I was and am where I need to be.

How many good days have I squandered by second-guessing or by allowing overblown expectations and visions of perfection to choke out the possibilities?

Yesterday and today seem to reinforce a lesson life keeps trying to teach me: Quit worrying. Do good -- the best I can -- and trust in God.

"Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires."
Psalm 37:3-4

(**For Psalmcat explanation, see Feb. 12 post.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Borrowed and Lent

I'm thinking a little wordplay might be the right way to end this week and this month. We'll see how it goes!

Dare I say "Borrowed and Lent" might be as good as it gets? I think it will get better, though I do wonder where all those ideas swimming around in my head go when I sit down to write!

The idea was to share some of the words I've picked up from others that have helped me make it through seemingly dark days of the soul, whether from winter, the introspection of Lent or any number of causes during the years of my life.

What I discover is that the words aren't at my fingertips. I can't find the e-mails, the books, the printouts, the clippings that contain the inspiration. So this looks like more work than I intended. I wanted it to be fun.

I guess my desire to write about things borrowed and Lent
too little time in my consciousness has spent.
So it looks like no words of real worth
at this time from me will flow forth!

(I feel as if I should apologize in case anyone actually took the time to read this, but I'm smiling in silly amusement as I prepare to go do a few chores, so it was worth something!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Giving up for Lent

I tried giving up for Lent, but I just couldn't do it. I'm not talking about making a sacrifice. I'm talking about giving up, throwing in the towel, calling it quits.

I think it started with Bridget's Valentine's Eve trip to the animal emergency hospital with a urinary tract infection, a late-night trip that left me feeling tired instead of romantic for Valentine's on Sunday. Before that, judging from my daily journal and correspondence, I was in pretty good spirits. Since then, things large and small have seemed a struggle: work; routine tasks; singing; trying to get the cat to take her pills; smiling; communicating; deciding; understanding.

I briefly posted a Facebook status update that I'd decided to just give up for Lent. But I quickly deleted it. It was too negative. It was inspired by stores not having my favorite cookies and gum -- two items I thought about giving up for Lent and decided against, and then I couldn't find them. (Yes, God has a sense of humor. That's one more thing I'm grateful for.)

Although I deleted that expression, I couldn't shake the negativity and frustration. Now, it seemed to be related to the overlap of the start of Lent and the end of the church stewardshp campaign, for which I was the chairwoman, a stressful role for me. (And I was resentful because the campaign should have been over before Thanksgiving or on Valentine's Day, but I guess God was being funny again!)

Forunately, an Ash Wednesday worship service included communion and a time for prayer and reflection. I needed that -- praying for strength and faith and focus and whatever it takes to not get frustrated or discouraged or overwhelmed. I was reminded that God wants obedience, not sacrifice. And sometimes obedience requires sacrfice (of my will). And God loves a cheerful giver and a humble, gracious servant. I know these things. He's leading and teaching. I'm sometimes a reluctant student.

Finally, the stewardship commitment and celebration Sunday came. I prayed to just let go and let God! This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Great is God's Faithfulness. And the day was filled with joy, blessings and musical reminders that "because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything that I need," and that "new every morning are God's love and compassion."

Unfortunately and for reasons I don't understand, Monday brought a new round of frustrations that have continued all week. It seems like the harder I try, the less I accomplish. I ask for answers and guidance and get none. One colleague suggested I do what seems right to me. I quickly relearned that's a surefire way to find out what the bosses DON'T want!

And so I find myself thinking -- sometimes saying aloud -- I just want to give up.

But amid the distress, I continued praying and returned to daily Bible reading I'd gotten behind on. Verses from Psalm 37 fortified my spirit: (3-6) "Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun."

So, no, I'm not giving up for Lent. The spiritual journey continues.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Balancing the register

Have you ever gotten your shopping basket to your car to unload your groceries, and as you put the last bag in the trunk, noticed something that was on your list lying -- unbagged -- in the bottom of the buggy? It happened to me on a recent cold Sunday, and I knew I was not going to trudge back to the store. I checked my receipt, hoping against hope that it showed generic ibuprofen, $7.22. But no. Sigh.

Again, I knew I wasn't going to walk back to the store, wait in line at customer service and make things right. I came up with a different plan pretty quickly. The following week, I would scan another bottle of ibuprofen and leave it in the store. I knew the plan could work, with the hardest part being just to remember to do it.

I made a point of leaving the bottle on the table where I would see it each day. And when Sunday came, I grabbed the bottle and put it in my car, to remind me even as I went to the store. Of course, I also had put it on my grocery list: Scan ibuprofen!

Everything went as planned. And I feel much better. Ir was not really a big thing, but it was the right thing. I was glad to think of an easy solution.

I guess why I'm writing about this is because I keep thinking of how frustrating it has been any time I've tried to do what I thought would be the right thing on issues with Walmart, which in this case would have been to take it back to the store right then. But I couldn't even imagine trying to explain what I had done. Maybe I was also afraid they'd consider me a shoplifter.

So, am I honest or not? The register is now balanced again. But I sure felt like a shoplifter for a week. Fortunately, it's not a feeling I liked. The next time the self-checkout station's automated voice says, "Please check your basket and make sure you've paid for everything" (or whatever it is that it says), I'll pay much closer attention!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Psalmcat 50 (From the daughter of the Psalmist's son)

Another round of very sad news brings me back to the computer, to try to make sense of jumbled thoughts and emotions. I learned yesterday that a dear one has lost a job. Another close relative recently got word that his last day with his job is in May. This comes as I still haven't sorted out and worked through my feelings about the deaths of dear and loved ones in recent months.

I'm in my second year of reading through the Bible in a year, using a plan that includes daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. Reading from Psalms tonight reminded me of the comfort and strength I get from heartfelt prose. The Psalmist didn't seem to worry about being repetitious. What was in his heart poured out.

I'm still afraid to let that happen. But the need and desire keep growing, and signs and reminders keep coming. I'm getting ready to sing "The New 23rd," an arrangement of one of my favorite Psalms, at church soon. The arrangement brings memories to mind, including my parents and their 50th anniversary, and my claim, by virtue of my Dad's name, to be a daughter of the Psalmist's son. The Psalmist writes and sings from the heart. That is my inheritance, as much from my Mom as from my Dad.

So, why Psalmcat? I can't deny the cat. I'm pretty sure God showed me my catness and helped me claim it before He revealed my connection to the Psalmist. As I posted on my FaceBook profile: "My life-changing moment came when I accepted my catness. I think the reason this people-thing is so hard for me sometimes is that I seem to be at my best when I can just eat, sleep, poop, play and be loved for just being me. ... Purr and smile." (Unlike a cat, I can work hard, but not unlike a cat, I'm easily distracted.) Maybe it's because I don't have children, but for me, the cats I've shared my life with have helped me understand the joy and heartache of unconditional love -- a small reminder of the love God has for me.

And Psalmcat 50 is because my year of being 50 has reawakened my desire to know this person God created and to not be afraid to this life fully.

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, including the Psalms, reminds me that, whatever happens, God's love and faithfulness endure. I don't understand why things keep happening to loved ones, and I'm spared. "There but for the grace of God go I" no longer works for me, because I feel certain that the people who face hardship, sickness, loss and death also have the grace of God. I do pray that God will show me how to reach out to those in need, to be a comfort and a blessing and a reminder of His love. It's not like insurance that will spare me from hardship. It does help build a faith that brings peace that passeth all understanding.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Running against the wind in winter

I have a self-imposed deadline to update this blog today. I'm starting out with no idea what to write. Maybe something will come as I type. That's still the best I can do, most of the time.

This has been another very different and interesting week. I was summoned for jury duty and was selected for a felony trial. I weathered concerns about the weather. I got a schedule change at work toward which my initial reaction was extremely negative. It seems like these experiences would make it easy to find something to write about. But for me, more to choose from often makes it harder to decide and focus.

I think the thing I'm most aware of is that I know I'm making incredible progress in some areas of my life, but it doesn't even seem to make a dent in the overall "to do" list. I know I'm facing and dealing with things -- emotionally and physically (in the sense of taking action) -- that for most of my life I tried to ignore or avoid. While taking care of emotional or personal physical needs doesn't get the house cleaned, medical reimbursement filed or letters written, maybe it does continue building a foundation that will help me do those things without so much procrastination.

I'm gonna "publish" now just to get it done -- to meet the deadline. But ideally I will be back sometime soon to try to discover the point of this and some of my previous postings. That's the best I can do for now. I need to get on with a day full of opportunities.