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On Running From Problems

I listen to music quite a bit while I’m working. I often have a “moment” with a certain song where I suddenly get the feels, and I’m all, THIS. THIS RIGHT HERE. This song did that today.

The Weight of Lies
by The Avett Brothers

the weight of lies will bring you down
and follow you to every town
cause nothing happens here
that doesn’t happen there
so when you run make sure you run
to something and not away from
cause lies don’t need an aeroplane¬†
to chase you anywhere

Running away from problems never fixed anything. I need to run toward them and deal with them. Only then will it do any good to move on to something /somewhere else. If I’m running, there had better not be anything behind me that I’m avoiding. Because when I pause, whatever I am running from will still be right there. I won’t have moved away from it at all.

Am I running away from problems or toward solutions?

 

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Forgiveness

Hi. This feels like it might be a little disjointed. At the moment, it’s just sort of a jumble of thoughts pouring forth. Maybe by the end I’ll find some order in them. And here’s the thing: I love writing about nonsense. I’m pretty good at it. But hitting the publish button on a serious topic? That takes a lot more courage, and it makes my stomach hurt a little. It’s so much easier to put funny stuff out there for people to read. The serious is scary because it’s letting you see a little piece of what’s below the surface. So just know that this is a little scary for me from the get-go. ūüôā But here goes…

I have had forgiveness on my mind a lot lately. The how. The why. The who. When I have something on my mind and cannot reconcile it with reality, it helps to write out my thoughts. So I got a pen and started writing. I ended up with more questions than answers, but the one answer I got then, and still know is this: When someone has wronged me- whether it’s by my perception or a literal wrongdoing, intentional or unintentional- forgiveness? It has to be done.

Here is most of what I wrote several weeks ago…

I forgive you.
What is forgiveness?
Letting go?
How many times?
How often do I need to forgive and let go of the same thing?
How do I forgive and let go?
Can I forget?

When I remember, I need to forgive again.
Are there special “forgiveness words”?

Do I just say, “I forgive you” 1,000 times until I feel it?
Won’t the words eventually lose meaning if I do that?
I need help.
I can’t let go on my own.
Let go. Forgive. Be free.
If I have to forgive again, did I really forgive the first time? How do I know if it “took”?
‚ÄúIn fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.‚ÄĚ –
Anne Lamotte,¬†Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (I haven’t read this book; I had written down a similar quote, and just looked it up online to find the source and the correct quote.)
Do I need to say it aloud?
I don’t want to be angry and bitter. Not anymore. I don’t want to pretend.
Do I need to make a list of things I’m forgiving? And burn them?
I forgive you. But do I? Yes. I have to. I have no other choice.
(Also, I need to forgive ME.)

I reached the end with more questions than answers, but with absolute knowledge that I didn’t have a choice but to forgive. I then left it at that and went on my way.

Today, this subject was heavy on my mind again. I was mulling it over all afternoon, and tonight I decided to see exactly what Jesus had to say about forgiveness. (All references are from the Amplified Bible.)

Psalm 86:5 For you, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You.

If God is so ready to forgive all of my sins and let them go forever, who am I to hold onto other people’s sins against me, as though they owe me more than I owe God? Who on earth do I think I am?

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

Matthew 18:35 So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.

Mark 11:25-26 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.

Guys? This leaves NO ROOM for unforgiveness anywhere. Ever.¬†If I get to judgement day and find myself standing beside an unrepentant Timothy McVeigh or Adam Lanza with even a little bit of unforgiveness in my heart, I am no closer to getting into heaven than they are. It’s not going to happen. Jesus is very clear about this:¬†If I do not¬†freely forgive someone, from my heart, letting go of the resentment that I love to hang onto, God will not forgive me. ¬†But it feels so good to hang on! I can’t let go of ALL of it- I need something to come back to, to get out and polish a little now and then so I can remember how someone wronged me. Why would I want to remember these hurts anyway?¬†¬†Does it make me feel like I’m better than they are?¬†And these verses do not say, “If the person who wronged you comes back and begs for your forgiveness on bended knee, go ahead and forgive them.” It says if you have¬†anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop. Whether they asked for it or not.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I know all too well, from numerous (possibly not wholehearted) attempts at forgiveness, that it is ridiculously hard sometimes. Even admitting that I’ve been hurt can sometimes be one of the hardest things to do. It feels weak, and I don’t want to acknowledge that I am capable of being hurt by someone’s words or actions. (Sticks and stones…) And as humans, I don’t think we can just forget and expect that it will be gone forever. I may need to forgive someone for the same thing again and again. Is that okay? Does that mean I didn’t do it right the first time? I think maybe even if we let it drop once, we just may need to let it go again and again. Maybe every day for a while. I need to¬†want to let it go first, and eventually it could be every other day. And then once a week. And then one day in the future, I may forget it all together.

Luke 17:4 And even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times and says, I repent [I am sorry], you must forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense as recalled and annulled).

Every day. Seven times a day. (But who’s counting?)

1 Peter 4:8 Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offences of others].

And there’s the rub: intense and unfailing love for one another. If I don’t love my fellow man, how will I begin to forgive them? But if I do have an intense and unfailing love for everyone, forgiveness shouldn’t be far behind. Because it’s hard to carry a grudge against someone I really love.

I can’t do this alone. I can’t just wake up and decide that my human self can let go of any resentment I carry. I’m going to need help. And I know where to find it:

1 John 1:9 If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

Jesus, cleanse me from anything that is not in conformity to Your will in purpose, thought, and action. Help me love everyone with Your love, and to pass on Your forgiveness to them so that You can forgive me for the oh-so-many things for which I need it.

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My 2012 Goals

This past year, I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions… until February. Then I decided to write down a few goals. Not “resolutions” per se, just some general lifestyle goals to work on throughout the year. I shared my list of goals with two people, and then started working on them. Here is how I did with them:
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1. Adopt healthier eating habits.
Overall, I think I did pretty great at this one. I eat a lot more whole foods than ever. Less processed food. More fruit and veggies. Less junk. More organic things. Not all organic, but some. I still eat tortilla chips, and I eat a few other unhealthy things at times, but I think I rocked the healthy eating this year.
2. Read 20 books.
This one was just going to be “read more”, but I knew I needed a number on it or I wouldn’t do very well. If I counted right, I read 13 books, and I’m in the middle of 3 more. Maybe if I would read only one at a time, I would finish them all? Here are some of my favorites that I finished:
I cannot tell you what this book did to me. It was the first book in years that made me get out my highlighter and pencil for notes in the margins. It turned me upside down in all the best ways.
Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. I like when a book makes me think, and also when I can understand all of it. I mean, I like to think I’m pretty smart, but some books take a few read-throughs and time for everything to soak in. (I’m looking at you, C.S. Lewis.) This book made me think a lot about the things I believe, and what I believe about them.
Funny. Really funny. I laughed out loud many times. I love when a book does that.
A true story by a friend of a friend. She tells the story of her best friend’s battle with cancer, and of walking through that experience with her. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby when you read it. ¬†
I want Tina Fey to be my new bff. I found myself wanting to read the entire book to someone, just so we could laugh at it together. Hilarious. 
Another laugh-out-loud book. Stories of David’s life, entertaining to the very end.
I’m sensing a pattern in my book choices here… I love Mindy Kaling, and this book did not disappoint. Funny, smart, and when reading it, I heard everything in Mindy’s voice in my head. Mindy and Tina, can we all be bffs?
3. Exercise consistently.
Meh. Okay, over the spring and summer I rocked this one, because I was training for a bike trip, and going on a bike trip. In July, I held still and recovered. In August, I bought a weighted hula hoop and started using that regularly. Lately I’ve been slacking off again. But I just used my hula hoop a couple of times again, so I’m probably going to be fit as can be in a few weeks.
4. Train for/go on bike trip.
I did this. Oh, did I ever do this. I trained. And then I tripped. The trip with my nephew was supposed to be just over 1,000 miles, from Topeka, Indiana to Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada. Because of some bike trouble one day, and getting a ride, I ended up biking a total of 994 miles in two weeks. (My nephew biked a little further to make up for the lost miles.) But I’m calling that close enough to 1,000 for me.
5. Watch fewer movies/TV shows.
This one was touch and go. Right now I’m watching nearly as many as I was at the beginning of the year. Over the summer it was a lot less. And I cancelled my Netflix for now, so that’s helping.
6. Give away 100 things I do not need.
Simplify. We all have more things than we really need, right? Way more. I could have had a garage sale, but this way just felt a lot better. And I crushed this one: I kept track so I would know when I reached 100… the final count written down was 136. I gave some more things away later that I didn’t write down, so I don’t know exactly how many items it was. And it felt great to give things away, and have less in my house! I think I might do this one again in 2013.
7. Attend church regularly.
It seemed like I was gone a lot this year on vacations, weekend trips, biking, etc. But I attended church as much as possible while I was home.
8. Save $5,000.
I did not save $5,000. I went on a bike trip, which meant buying lots of gear, supplies, food, some lodging, taking three weeks off of work… I repeat, I did not save $5,000. But I did save $2,000. I’m okay with that number, considering the year I had.
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There you have it. My goals for the past year, and my wins and losses. Overall I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished here. And once I make a list for 2013, you’ll be the first to know. I also made a list of other things I wanted to do eventually, but they weren’t a “this year” thing, or a change in lifestyle thing. They were places I wanted to see, and little things I wanted to do. But the sharing of those will have to come later.

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Home Made Laundry Soap

It used to be that when I heard about those super crafty and thrifty types who were making their own things like laundry soap, body wash, toothpaste… and so on and so forth, that I would be like:

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I mean, seriously. Just buy the soap, people. How is that so difficult? But these days? I’m sort of more the “Just pay the rent, people.” type. And it’s turning out to be fun to make my own things and save money in the process!

The first thing I tried was laundry soap. I got a recipe from a friend who got it from a friend who got it… okay you get it. And then I got another friends recipe to compare, and cross referenced them and sort of used both. This is adjusted a little from the original recipe, but I can’t claim ownership of any of it. I don’t know who came up with it in the beginning, but I’m giving them full credit here: Laundry Soap Recipe Maker, thank you for your contribution to my cleanliness.

I gathered the ingredients and took them to my mom’s house, where we spent… I don’t know, an hour? Less? It was a long time ago, okay? making this soap. We split this batch, and it lasted us for months! Our clothes were clean and smelled nice, and that’s all you can really ask of your laundry soap, isn’t it?

Here is what you will need for the soap:

1 bar FelsNaptha soap (found in the laundry soap section at Kroger)
2 cups Washing Soda (also found in the laundry section)
2 cups Borax

1 five gallon bucket with a lid
1 long spoon for stirring

Heat water in a sauce pan, about a quart or so. Use a cheese grater or your KitchenAid grater or a knife or a hammer or whatever pleases you, to shred the bar of FelsNaptha. Add that to the hot water. Stir occasionally. Do not boil, but get it hot enough to melt the soap. You can now pour this in your bucket. Dissolve the washing soda and borax in hot water and add it to the soapy bucket water. Now fill the rest of the bucket with hot water and stir it up good & proper. Once this is all mixed together, you want to let it set for 24 hours before using it. But don’t ignore it- stir it up every couple of hours to make sure everything is setting up properly. Actually, I don’t know why you stir it. You just do. And keep the lid on the bucket, for Pete’s sake. You don’t want the water evaporating. But loosely- it doesn’t have to be tight.

When we made it, we did a smaller batch in a 3 gallon bucket. You can adjust the water amounts if you want a thicker soap. Or a thinner soap. It’s up to you, man. And if you need more washing soda or borax, by all means, add more! If the soap is getting too thick after you’ve used it for a while, add some hot water and stir it up.

We use around 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. Use more or less as needed. But you really don’t need more than that. All told, this 5 gallon batch of soap should only cost you a few dollars and last you a long, long time. Unless you have dozens of kids who spend their days rolling around in a barnyard. Then it might only last you half of a long, long time.

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My 100 Things, Part 1

At the beginning of 2011 I was kind of in a rut. I was okay with life, but I was just sort of existing. I love being at home too much to just go out and DO all the time. I like to just be. And I certainly was not living live to the fullest. On January 1, I learned about Jesse Brisendine’s 1 Year 1000 Things Challenge. This fascinated me and I began following his challenges. About two weeks into the new year I had an idea: what if I would do the challenge, too, but on a very small scale? I decided to try to do at least one thing every month that I had never done before. But… what to do? As soon as I grabbed a pen and paper, my mind went completely blank. Then my brother came to see me, and with his help I soon had a nice sized list to get started on. I made plans for Thing Number One: Eat Sushi.

But just as quickly, plans changed. I suddenly needed to go to Mexico to stay with my sister’s two youngest children for a week. This was going to take me into February. Had my adventure derailed before it even began? No! The Go With the Flow plan was set in motion. I would just add new things to my list, incorporating my trip into the challenge!

So without further ado, here is January:

1. Book a flight to go on a trip the same day.¬†I’m a planner. I plan things. Ahead of time. I like to know what’s going on. So this was definitely a new thing. It was kind of fun! The beginning of my New Things adventure.
2. Drive in a foreign country.¬†I had been to Mexico 6 or so times before this, but I had never driven a car there. I don’t speaka Espanish and I wasn’t very familiar with the roads. This time, I didn’t have a choice. I was nervous, but I made it all the way out of town and back to the home!¬†

20110125mx1

February:

3. Get snowed into Mexico. And don’t panic.¬†This wasn’t really something I could claim as having accomplished it myself. Except for the not panicking part.¬†There was a snow storm at home that resulted in my flight out being cancelled. I kind of needed to get back to work, as I had been gone for a week by this time. But there was nothing that could be done, so I relaxed and enjoyed the extra day with the family. And you know what? Everyone survived and it was just fine. More than fine, it was wonderful.
4. Eat Sushi. It was… okay. Not sure what all the fuss is. I liked my friend’s fried rice much better. But I made a whole meal of my sushi, and it made me happy that I had branched out and tried something new.

IMAG0383-001

Somewhere along the way, as my list of things accomplished started getting longer, I decided to go big and try to do 100 new things in 2011. I probably won’t share them all here, but you’ll see quite a few of them. (Whoever “you” are.)

p.s. I used to use Blogger and am new to WordPress. I think it hates me. Why can’t I make my photos bigger? Why can’t I find anything? Where did my life go so wrong? Anyway, I’m still learning here, so please be gentle.

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles…

The Journey of a Thousand Miles...

…ends with big, relieved smiles.

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December 20, 2012 · 2:06 am