Yes, it is!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Wish I Knew His Story

Wednesdays are typically very busy days for my kids.  After I pick the kids up from school, we go to Jackie's physical therapy appointment which is about a half hour drive each direction.  Since the kids have AWANA on Wednesday nights, we get dinner somewhere close to the church before AWANA.  Tonight was no exception and we ended up at one of our favorite places, Chick-Fil-A.  

While we were sitting, I noticed a young man with a dog sitting at one of the tables outside of the restaurant.  I noticed a lady talking to him and letting him use her phone.  I was sitting with a friend and her kids.  Finally, knowing how much my friend also likes dogs, I told her to look outside.  We both wondered what his story was. 

Noticing how young this man is and how his dog had a thick heavy rope for a leash and a too-big harness for a collar, my heart broke for this pair.  Suddenly, I remembered that I had a bag full of leashes, collars, and dog brushes in my van. I had recently bought them on clearance very cheap and was going to donate them to an animal shelter. I told my friend to watch my kids while I went out to the van to see what I could offer this young man.  Thankfully, I had a matching leash and collar in just the right size for the dog and I also grabbed one of the brushes.  I came back inside the restaurant to join my friend for a few moments so I could gather the courage to go back outside and present the items to the homeless pair.  When I came out, the lady got up and went inside the restaurant.  I then told the man that I wanted to give him the leash and collar because it would be easier to use than using the rope.  I was able to talk to him for a few moments and found out that his name is Ethan and his dog's name is Bridget.  Bridget is 3 years old and is a very sweet, well-mannered dog.  The love Ethan has for his companion was so evident.  Despite their situation, Bridget seemed to be well cared for and in good health. Ethan told me that he was traveling from Colorado to the Shawnee National Forest.  He then told me that he was originally from Pennsylvania.  I noticed on the table behind him that he is traveling with a guitar, a huge duffel bag, and what I'm assuming is his bedroll.  I just felt so strongly that Ethan is not your typical street person begging on a street corner.  He didn't reek of alcohol or cigarettes.  He just smelled like he hadn't showered in 3 or 4 days.  He was a bit thin, too.  I offered him an extra coupon I had for a free sandwich at Chick-Fil-A.  I also offered him a little bit of money that I had in my pocket. He refused at first saying that he has some money.  Before I could even think about it, I asked him how much to which he responded $45.  I told him to take the money to buy food for Bridget.  He quickly showed me that he had food for her but it was a small amount, perhaps enough for another 3 days.  I nearly begged him to take the money to buy food for when Bridget runs out. I don't care if he uses it for himself or for Bridget.  I was just glad that I was able to finally convince him to take the money.  I wished Ethan luck on his journey and told him that I would say a pray for him.  After I petted Bridget one last time, I went back inside to join my friend and the kids.  Meanwhile, the lady who Ethan had been talking to earlier, went back out there to join Ethan (she was also a kind stranger to Ethan).  It then started to rain a little bit and I watched as the restaurant employees went out there to retract the umbrellas at the tables.  All, except the one that held Ethan's worldly goods.  I don't care what the critics may say, most Chick Fil A employees have hearts of gold.  They could very easily have told Ethan tough luck and then proceed to retract the umbrella over him.  But they didn't.

 My heart breaks for people and animals like Ethan. I don't typically give money to homeless people. I'll give them food or some other essential.  I just felt very strongly that Ethan was different.  He's so young and soft-spoken and he seemed so humble.  And his reluctance reassured me, in a way, that he was going to do his best to use whatever money he had wisely.  

I'm such a sucker when it comes to homeless people and their animals but today's encounter left me humbled.   And feeling sad.  But it also made me happy to see Bridget sporting a brand new matching collar and leash.  I wish I knew Ethan's story.  If I had the time earlier this evening, even though it would be outside of my comfort zone, I would have sat with Ethan and Bridget to learn more about him and how I can help other people in his situation.  Please keep this pair in your thoughts and/or your prayers for a safe journey.

Depression

Depression is awful.

 It feels terrible. 

It makes everything feel dark and gloomy. 

The gloomy looking weather makes it worse. 

Missing my friends and family back home makes it even more worse.

Of course, it doesn't help that there have been a couple of situations in the last couple of weeks that have set me back. 

I will get beyond this. 

I really need to get back to the gym more often. My gym time is nowhere near what it used to be before this past year. 

I'm deficient in Vitamin D again and the nurse practitioner put me on a high dose of prescription Vitamin D.  I really hope this helps to not only make me feel better physically but also emotionally.

My praying friends, please pray for me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Beautiful Day

Today was so beautiful and the weather was perfect for a family bike ride.  I actually didn't want to go initially because I was so tired after a late night last night meeting up with a friend for a drink and then having to be at church this morning at 8:00 to practice a skit.  My body was yearning for a nap.  However, Jackie wasn't going to go without me so off we all went to go riding.  

I don't know how many miles we rode but I was very impressed that Jackie was a trooper to ride for so long and with just a handful of complaints.  Of course, the stop at McD's for ice-cream was an incentive for her, too.  I would guess that we rode somewhere between 8 and 10 miles total.  
We followed the bike trail through lots of neighborhoods, around several parks, and through some wooded areas.  We stopped briefly at a skate park so Ben can show off his budding BMX skills. (Daddy bought him a BMX bike last summer).   We stopped for a few moments to observe some dogs at a dog park.  We encountered several different critters including groundhogs and badgers.  We stopped at McD's for ice-cream and a much needed break for Jackie.  

Jackie tends to lag a little bit behind on activities such as walking and bike riding.  I don't want to blame it solely on her CP (although it is a factor) because she also gets side-tracked so easily.  Plus, even though she has been riding on a 2-wheeler for over a year now, she is still a little unsteady sometimes.  So, for the first part of the ride, I stayed back with Jackie.  On the second part of the ride, Ben and I rode ahead of Jackie and Tim. And was it ever a work-out.  (I hate to say it but when Jackie rides along with me, it is not a work out). I loved it.  Going up some of those hills were challenging and at one point, even my little Ben had to walk his bike up one of the hills after he couldn't keep up with me.  (He was NOT very pleased with me).  Going down the hills around the twists and turns was THRILLING! And Ben was in heaven on those.  He is such a dare-devil on his bike and scooter. 
This was the first time that I have gone on the bike trail with the kids and Tim.  I'm usually cleaning house, cooking dinner, or busy with something else when Tim takes the kids there.  I enjoy riding my bike but I mostly ride around the neighborhoods here.  

It was the perfect weather for riding the trail today and I'm so glad that I didn't let my tired body overrule. There were some really beautiful parts of the trail, too.  I also enjoyed riding past some of the historic homes, even the ramshackle ones.  It was just so perfect today and so enjoyable.  Just perfect. I will be doing this again soon.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

On the Topic Of Church Membership... Again

I just don't get why it's such a big deal that I am not a member of the church that I currently attend with my family.  Tim and Jackie are members but I have not felt the desire to become a member.  Somebody whom I have a lot of respect for recently explained their perspective on it, which helped me to better understand the idea of becoming a member of one church.  This was after I wrote about how several people have asked me why I'm not a member. 

This morning, I went to an informational meeting about a children's camp that Jackie will be old enough for next summer.  Jackie knows about this camp because she has heard other kids talk about it and has seen pictures of this past year's camp.  Jackie talks about it all the time and has been looking forward to finally being old enough to go.  I am excited for Jackie as this will give her the opportunity to learn more about her faith, have fun for five days without her pesky younger brother, and most of all, make new friends.  Jackie also wants me to be a chaperone.  I feel honored that she wants me to join her on the adventure and I would love to be a chaperone.  However, my excitement for Jackie was dimmed for a fleeting moment when one of the organizers (I assume) mentioned that I need to be a church member to be a chaperone.  That would be the only thing that could potentially hold me back from joining my sweet girl on her first non-family venture away from home.  If that happens, then I'll go on my own and stay somewhere else close-by so I can be close to my baby girl.  Beside, the idea of my baby being 300 miles away (or however far it is) without family causes me a good bit of anxiety.  No matter, I will still participate with Jackie in the planned fundraisers that will help to keep camp costs to a minimum. 

As far as becoming a member, once again, I am not ready to make that commitment.  I do not want to feel forced into making a commitment.  I want my motivation, if there ever is one, to be the right one for becoming a church member.  The more people try to push the idea of membership on me, I feel more resistant.  It pushes me further away from the idea of it.  If I do it, I will do it on my own time.  I'm attending church with my family and that's what should matter most to those people right now. 

Just Some Random Thoughts

Recently, I've been having some random thoughts.  My mind often works that way.  My children have unfortunately inherited that trait.  I know a lot of young people who are home-schooled and they are some of the smartest, some of the best-mannered people I've met.  I think home-schooling is great but it's not for everybody.  However, I got to thinking about this and just found it interesting the number of home-schooled people who go to college to become teachers.  Interesting.

As if my random thoughts couldn't be any more bizarre, not too long ago, I thought with all the controversy surrounding gun laws that surely blind people wouldn't really care either way.  After all, if somebody is blind, they can't see the target.  Right?  Well, as it turns out, the state of Iowa has been issuing gun permits to the blind.  The proof is HERE.  I'm sure the blind folks are lining up for their gun permits as we speak. 

Now I'm wondering how many blind people have joined the NRA?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's A Real Shame...

It's a shame that my own hearing loss has been used to discriminate against me.  That was recently used against me in a decision making process.  On top of this, the person was a little deceitful with me after recent correspondence regarding the issue.

On top of that, it's a shame that my confidence was betrayed recently by somebody I have a lot of respect for.  I'm not angry.  Rather, I'm very disappointed and hurt that this person did this.  

I really, REALLY miss home.  I want so badly to move out of this state.  Even if we don't move back home, if we could just move a little closer, I know I would be much more at peace. Y'all, help me pray hard for job opportunities for my husband to open up closer to home. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Am I A Christian?

This past week has been a very interesting one.  I have been asked no less than 4 times why I am not a member of the church I currently attend with my family. And to top it off, the sermon this morning had some to do with membership as evident by a subtitle "I am a member".  Hmm, I can't help but wonder. 

 I have also been asked at least 3 times this past week if I am a christian.  My daughter is one of those who asked me if I am a christian.  I have to admit, all these questions about my Christianity have me a little confused.  I don't think I've given anybody any reason to think otherwise. I mean, I'm not a party girl, I've never cheated on my husband, I hardly swear anymore, I've never tried drugs, I hardly ever drink anymore.  I live a relatively clean life. I even started doing a short devotion with my kids almost every night. I've been making some good changes in my life.  Jackie only wants to listen to christian music now so I only listen to christian music around her.   So, I really don't understand why this question has been asked of me so many times this week. 

First, I'll explain the membership deal.  My husband is an official member of this church we currently attend.  So is Jackie.  She automatically became a member when she made a commitment to God and was baptized soon afterward.  Those are decisions that she made on her own and I am very proud of her.  As for why I am not an official member, well, I just have not felt led to become a member.  I remember when Tim and I first started attending another (Baptist) church back home in Florida and I just knew without a doubt that was where we belonged. I could feel it deep down inside that I was home.  And it was home.  It is a very large church but it didn't feel that large.  I became involved in a few areas of ministry there; choir, English as a second language ministry, and women's ministry.  I had great friends there.  I looked forward to going there.  I was very sad about leaving my home church behind when we moved away. I miss my church very much.  After the Air Force moved us here from Florida, we transferred our membership to another Baptist church local to us.  Really, the only reason I agreed to it was because Tim wanted to do so.  I was very reluctant, at first, because I thought for sure that we would not be living here for more than 3-4 years before we moved on. (Unfortunately, moving out of Illinois has not worked out, yet).  Tim eventually felt that was not the right church for him so over time, we visited other churches.  We have been attending our current (Baptist) church for a total of 3 1/2 years now and Tim recently transferred his church membership over to this current church.  I did not.  I just do not feel right about it at this time and I don't know if I will ever feel right about it.  Plus, I don't consider myself a true Baptist even though I was a member of that Baptist church in Florida.   I don't consider myself to be of any one particular denomination.  I've attended churches of many different denominations. 

As for being a christian, yes, I subscribe to the  christian faith.  I made a commitment when I was a little girl and I was baptized a few years later.  Somebody recently asked me about the circumstances around the time I made a commitment.  I remember being influenced to do so because of a nightmare I experienced, which cause me to wake up in fear late at night. I was just a little girl, perhaps a little younger than Jackie is now.  I remember praying for God to be in my heart. Unfortunately, over time, as a young girl, my religious experiences weren't always positive.  That's probably one reason Mother quit going after several years of attending church.(To this day, Mother has nothing to do with religion). I continued going to church, mostly just to get away from home.  However,  I still often felt judged due to my family situation.  I felt judged if I dressed wrong.   Even though I was a fairly good kid, I was not a pretty one and I knew I was definitely not as important as the other kids.  Really, the main reason I even continued to attend church during my childhood was to get away from home.  I entered adulthood very confused about what religious matters.  I actually grew up afraid of God.  Afraid of doing wrong, afraid of him not helping me in time of need because I sinned, afraid of so many things.  I was so confused about religious matters. Over the years, I went to church on and off. I would do good for awhile, then I would falter.  I seemed to falter more than I succeeded.  And nobody seemed to care whether I was at church or if I faltered. But I still considered myself to be of christian faith.

Lately, my daughter has been my inspiration.  She has such a tender heart and is so eager to learn about her christian faith.  She loves her Sunday School teachers and she really enjoys going to AWANA.  It made Jackie very sad when I stopped attending church for awhile with the family.  Jackie has been my inspiration, a reason I have been working hard to be a good christian person. I don't want my little girl to be sad for me.  She shouldn't be sad for me.  As a young girl myself, I remember feeling deep sadness when my own mother did things that were difficult for me to accept.  I don't want that for my little girl.  So, I've been working hard to make changes in my own religious life.  I've been getting more involved at church.  I helped in the kitchen during Vacation Bible School week.  I was actually recruited to help and even though I had planned to keep my distance, I am so glad that it worked out the way it did.  I was able to make a couple of new friends who genuinely seemed interested in knowing me. I'm helping prepare meals with another good friend there on Wednesdays if I'm not busy.  I recently joined the choir but that didn't work out.  Perhaps later.  I'm riding with family to church most of the time now.  Until recently, I would just meet the family at church after they were done with Sunday School.  I still don't go to Sunday School but Jackie is so happy that we are all riding together to church.  It's the little things that really matter to her. 

I've been greatly encouraged in just the last couple of months by a couple of situations in which forgiveness has been key to friendly relationships that had previously been unfriendly between us.  All in all, things have been so much better lately and I don't feel as anxious about going to church with my family.  I love that my kids seem happy there and have made a handful of good friends.  I feel like I'm improving my social attitude there, too. I'm allowing people there to get to know me. Just a few people.  (I admit that I can be hard to read).  And I'm getting to know some really wonderful people there.  

So, will I join the ranks of my husband and daughter and become a member anytime soon?  I honestly don't know.  After talking to a good friend today about that, she provided a different perspective that I had not thought about previously.

Finally, am I a christian?  Contrary to what some people may think, I think I am.  I'm no bible scholar though and probably never will be.  Plus, in case heaven and hell are real, I'd rather go to heaven!