Fried

Today I’m changing the spelling of Friday to Frieday. I. Am. Fried. I can’t think, I can’t even muster up enough strength to push my cat away. She is standing on my chest as I recline in the sofa, and her body is completely against my face and I’m typing blindly. She must be starved for attention. Or something.

Now she’s laying on my arm. It’s a pretty intense life I live – giving play-by-plays of my cat’s quirky behavior.

Here in Nodak, we’ve been having an exceptionally dreary winter. Record snowfall, record low temps, and hardly any sunshine. I don’t care that it’s cold. But usually it doesn’t get THIS cold until later in January, or mid February. So we’ve been there, done that, and we’re tired of it. We’re ready to move on to greener and warmer things. After the last few weeks I’ve had, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had a brain freeze, and not from eating ice cream. Ooooh, ice cream sounds good. I digress.

Last night I had one of my lame a-ha! moments. If you’re a normal human being, you pass gas – several times a day. (I know. You’re wondering where I’m going with this. Frankly, so am I.) It’s natural, but so inconvienient, and most times, disturbing to say the least. A lot of the time, if you can just excuse yourself to outside, no one will ever know why, or what you did.

Here’s my beef.

It’s so stinking cold in Nodak these days. So very cold. When it’s not too painful to breathe, you breath becomes very visible. When you take your glove off outside, steam comes pouring out of your hand into the frigid air.

And lo (Ali….I still use that, and it still makes me laugh so hard), if you go outside to pass gas, PEOPLE WILL SEE STEAM EMITTING FROM YOUR BOTTOM! They will know exactly what you’re doing, and even though they have to break wind every once in a while too, they can’t help but think less of you.

This reminds me of a totally random story. (I told you I was fried) One winter in Wyoming, I was housesitting/dogsitting for a lady and her husband. They lived out in the country on a plot of acreage. Their neighbors had several horses that were always turned out to pasture. I was outside with the dogs one morning, encouraging them to take care of business, and I noticed one of the horses raise it’s tail. I thought for sure it was going to make some doo there in the pasture – but lo! No, even! It let a cloud of steam shoot straight out of it’s rear. I’m not even joking.

Steamy gas. It happens in the cold. Just be careful the next time you think you’re being discreet.

I Should’ve Been A Therapist.

Not really. Though it was something I considered at one time, I posses a major character flaw that would prevent me from being a very effective therapist. I tend to personally absorb the problems and struggles of others and, more often than not, place the burden of solving their problems upon my shoulders. I would never be able to leave my work at work – I would internalize the situations of others and carry their situations. I would run myself in to the ground trying to save everyone from further harm and emotional heartache if I were aware of all of the situations and circumstances. I would need to see a therapist just so I could continue being one.

Even still, every once in a while, I come across thoughts and sayings that, if I do say so myself, are pretty insightful. Something a really great therpaist might say.

I don’t have long to gloat about those pearls of wisdom, however, because I usually end up eating them later, or humbly remembering them when I’m going through a situation of my own.

Last night was a lot of fun. Even though I had been emotional a good part of the day, as it was my last day at the job I loved, I was able to really enjoy myself last night while spending time with a few of those coworkers. I enjoyed my time out with good friends and it was a much needed outing. Dinner, trivia, lots of laughs, gross garlic-cheese-bread, and some thought-provoking, intense conversations. It really was a great night.

At one point last night, I said something I felt was rather insightful. As the words were coming out of my mouth, however, I thought to myself, “If you know that, then why can’t you be okay with that, Val?” What I said was, “Sometimes the things in life we need to hear are the hardest things we’ll have to swallow.”

I can recall several times I have prayed and prayed and prayed for an answer, a sign, something….and when I get it, I pray harder and harder for a different one. Geez, God, get it right ~ I don’t want your answer, I want my answer I’ve already thought of to spill forth from you. Duh.

Case and point: leaving a job, boss, coworkers, and work environment I absolutely loved for the option of a more stable position and guaranteed income. I still think I might be crazy for that. But I have to believe I got the answer I needed, and as much as I didn’t want to, I had to act on that.

Here’s where I want to make something perfectly clear. Just because I have faith, and I believe in the God who saves and restores me and who sent his Son for my sins – does not mean I believe I have it “easy”. I also don’t think I’m any better than the next person. I’ve done some things in life I’m outright ashamed of. I still do some things that are pretty questionable, I’m sure. It’s not easy, and it’s not “safe”….it just is. I don’t see myself as having it better than anyone else…but I just might have a bit more hope. With that hope, however, comes the realization that I don’t know it all, and I can’t come up with all of my own answers. This is where the whole “Lean not on your own understanding” comes in to play.

When I pray and pray for an answer and finally get one….it may be the hardest thing I’ll have to swallow. I may prefer the problem over the solution. The answer I’m looking for will sometimes not be the answer I get.

But it will be the answer I need.

Open my heart to what you know. So I can stretch, so I can grow. My feelings toss me to and fro. Open my heart to what you know.
Open my eyes to what you see, to understand what I should be. My feelings get the best of me. Open my eyes to what you see.
Open my ears to what you hear, so I can keep you very near. My feelings make it so unclear. Open my ears to what you hear.
Open my heart to what you know. So I can stretch, so I can grow. My feelings toss me to and fro. Open my heart to what you know.

Reminiscing

After we moved to Wyoming, my parents bought a house about three miles out of town, in the middle of a 14-acre field. It was a great house, and I find myself missing it quite often.

The house was nestled back about 1/8 of a mile from the road at the end of a long, curvy driveway. There was a turn-about that went around a decorative well right in front of the house. I will draw a picture to illustrate….(that sounds so redundant!)

That picture is completely off-scale, and the turn-about hugged the well much closer, but art is not my forte, and you get the idea…

When I obtained my driver’s license, my parents bought a 1971 Chrysler Newport the color of pea-soup-vomit. It was because “cars should be built for safety, not appearance.” I think they desired I never ever want to drive. They nicknamed it “The Green Bean”. My friend Tiffani and I nicknamed it “The Beast”. I don’t have any pictures off-hand of our particular car, but here’s one similar, complete with a person so you may reference the ginormous size and semi-putred appearance of this car.

The car is so big it can’t even fit in a photo! So! After becoming a legal driving citizen, I would often have to take my little sister places in order to maintain my driving privileges. This was fine by me as I loved driving, even if it was in a car the size of a baby whale.

Sometimes after running Sis to and fro, I would drive down our long driveway, and just drive in circles around that well in the turn-about. Around and around and around and around. Every time I make a circle, we would both just laugh so hard. Can you imagine what the neighbors thought, seeing this huge car do laps around a tiny decorative well, for no reason whatsoever? It was a riot!

When I finally parked the car we would have to sit and collect ourselves before going inside.

I have no idea what gave me the bright idea to randomly drive in circles around that well, nor do I remember the two of us ever laughing any harder together, than each time I decided to “go for a spin”.

That car is the main character in a lot of my memories from back-in-the-day. One night after the fall high school play, we piled 9 people in that car (don’t tell my parents) and drove around town. We stopped at stop signs to do Chinese Fire Drills, but only two of us were able to access the door to get out and run around like crazy. The other people were stuck in their position. I had to beg each of them for financial contributions because in the thirty minutes we cruised around town, I burned half a tank of fuel. After I had dropped everyone except Tiffani off at their house, the two of us drove around the neighborhood by the hospital and did some “Thanksgiving Caroling”. I turned the hazards on (you could see them blinking above the hood of the car) and we drove up and down various streets singing, “Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving, On November 27th!” to the tune of Jingle Bells.

I used to cart kids to youth group gatherings in that car and the inside was deemed “The Happy Car” and no one was allowed to complain about or insult anything or anyone inside The Happy Car. Who would want to, while riding in the luxurious 1970s retro pea-soup green fabric-coated interior?

I scraped the side of that car alongside a giant metal dumpster once and I’m pretty sure the dumpster had more damage than the car.

So many fun times in that horrid vehicle. By far, though, my fondest memories are of taking my sister for a spin around that wishing well. It’s making me laugh now just remembering how hard she would get to laughing. “Valerie, don’t go again, don’t go ag—ahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!”

My parents sold that house and now live in the middle of town. There is no long driveway, and there is no decorative well. I have always wanted to take my sister for a drive and go back to that house and drive circles around the well. I’m sure the owners wouldn’t get near a kick out of it as we would.

UPDATE….It has been brought to my attention the original picture I posted of the car may not always come up. Here is another for your viewing pleasure.

Refiners Fire

Written from the third chapter of Malachi, a song “Refiners Fire” has been one of my favorites to sing in church. Refining precious metals involves heating them up to a temperature they can hardly handle, to rid them of blemish. To perfect them. To bring them to their best, most valuable potential.

I feel as if I have been in the fire these last few weeks. It emotionally exhausts me to retell the story detail for detail. I have had ups, downs, highs, and lows, these last couple of weeks regarding my employment. I love my job, I love my boss, and I love my environment at work. It’s been a great five months, full of growth, change, and revelation. Five months I’ve been there.

The company I work for is struggling financially, and it’s no secret. An entire office was laid off weeks ago, bills are going unpaid, and employees are wondering if and when they will see their paychecks. It’s been a venue of concern, but so long as my coworkers and boss stayed strong, I would too.

It was revealed to me last Monday, however, that wasn’t the case. People were losing faith in the company, and employees were looking to jump ship before they were thrown overboard. After the conversations I had that Monday, I went in to survival mode, and applied for six or seven jobs online that night.

Tuesday morning, 8:24, I got a call from one of those jobs. They wanted to interview me later that afternoon. That same afternoon. I was shocked. I did not expect that at all. I went in for the interview. It lasted an hour and a half, and went really well.

Wednesday my boss had a meeting with the CEO of the company, and was encouraged and energized. He made a commitment to stay for the long haul. Therefore, my loyalty was with him. He asked me to consider staying, though he reiterated he understood if I felt I had to take another job.

Thursday he fought for me. He didn’t want me to leave, and I still had reservations. Being encouraged is one thing, but saving a struggling company is another. I’m in a position where it’s possible hubby and I will want to start a family, and I can’t – I won’t – make that decision based on whether or not I have a job, or have job security.

Friday I had interview number two at the same place, and they offered me the position. I asked for the weekend to consider. Eighteen different times I changed my mind. I was going to stay. I was going to go. I was going to stay. I was going to go. I felt like out of loyalty to my boss and coworkers, I should stay. I also felt, however, I should consider my own stability and security.

Today was my deadline for deciding. I still hadn’t made up my mind. I went to the potential employer this morning, with the intention of telling them thank you, but I would be staying with my current employer. No one was there. I left a Christmas card and a plate of fudge and went to work. My boss popped me up on instant messenger. He encouraged me to do the right thing – the safe thing – though he didn’t want to lose me as an employee, he couldn’t live with it if I stayed and lost my job or the company folded.

I have been a wreck. An absolute wreck. You know the oldie but goodie, “Should I stay or should I go now?” song? That has played through my mind more times than I care to count. I knew I needed to go. I didn’t want to admit it though. I had been praying for an answer all this time, and here it was right before me, and I thought I knew better.

I begged for an opportunity to be safe, stable, secure, and happy in my work. It was presented to me in less than 24 hours. I wasn’t convinced, so it was presented to me again three days later. I still wasn’t convinced so I went to turn it down, and no one was there to receive my decline of the offer. I got a call and decided to go back this afternoon.

I cried in front of the interviewer. I cried. In front of the interviewer. My potential employer sat there and let me cry while I was working through this mental struggle. Can you believe that?! The offer still stood. With pure conviction she looked me in the eye and said, “You’ve told me you’re a Christian and you believe in a reason. At some point, you have to get out of your own way.”

Holy buckets.

I will never be perfect here on earth. I will never claim that I am perfect, blameless, or without fault. I do believe, though, that I am being held in the refiners fire, and that he is building me to be the best, most beautiful creation I can be…..in Him.

Am I sad to be leaving my boss and coworkers? Absolutely. I’ve shed many tears about it today. Am I scared to start this new venture? You bet your patootie. Am I faithful that all things work to His glory? Until my last breath is drawn.

He is holy. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. I worship Him. He has a provision, a plan, and a purpose. Sure the heat might be hard to bear at times, and I will want so badly to give up and go my own way. But I have the chance to be made perfect in Him. He’s taking the time to refine me. To erase my blemishes and faults.

I may have only had this job for five months, but He’s had a plan for me my whole life. Who am I to stand in my own way?

Refiners Fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for you, Lord.
I want to be Holy
Set apart for you, my master,
Ready to do your will.

LTH Part II

Since I posted the Love Through Hate blog, I have not been able to stop thinking about Chrysalis and the teens I encountered. I have not been able to stop thinking about how God ties everything together in His timing for His purposes.

It started when I attended the Walk to Emmaus in February of 2005. My best friend and her husband sponsored my husband and me for the retreat weekend. I don’t know what to say other than it was one of the most moving and powerful experiences of my life. I absolutely fell in love with God and had one amazing experience after another. [Cindy B and Rita G ~ if you ever read this, know that I think and pray for you two so often. You were the best W2E moms I could have hoped for. :o)] That whole weekend, things were revealed to me about purpose, grace, love, and forgiveness. Things I’ve always found myself struggling with, no less.

One morning while the ladies were getting ready for breakfast, I found myself in a bit of a rush to get ready in time. I was combing through my hair when one of the women attending W2E turned to me and said, “You have been so much fun this weekend. You need to be working with teenagers.” Another woman chimed in, “Oh yes, I can totally see her doing that!” The first responded, “I know. Wouldn’t she be perfect with those teens?”

I froze. Teens? Me perfect? TEENS? I didn’t blurt out what I immediately thought, which was, “Oh, thank you, but I can’t stand them.” I stood there in shock, smiled sheepishly, carried on a bit more of the conversation, but kept thinking to myself, “She can’t be serious. If she knew the can of worms I had…..”

I quickly forgot about that encounter and went on with the rest of the weekend. I wanted, so badly, to be called on to help with the next Walk To Emmaus. I wanted to go and be with those women more than anything. I never got the call. Instead, my best friend proposed I be on team at Chrysalis. And in my previous blog, you can read all about my reaction to that…..just imagine snot, sweat, and tears. Leaking salty fluids out of every body part! When we were instructed to be the salt of the earth, I don’t think that’s really what God had in mind, bawling in panic and fear at a friend’s dining table.

I went to Chrysalis. God changed my heart. I fell in love with those teens. I laughed with them, I cried with them, I was inspired by what servants they were and how they desired to grow closer to their Savior! I wanted to adopt every one of them and just show them as much love and encouragement I could muster.

At one point during the Chrysalis weekend, I ran in to that woman from the Walk. The one who caught me while I was combing my hair, and told me I should work with teens. The one who I thought was out of her mind. She was there, she recognized me, gave me a huge hug and said, “I knew it! You’re supposed to be doing this! I’m so excited my daughters are here and with you!”

Her…..daughters? Enter lump in throat. When this woman suggested I explore opportunities to work with teens, she was saying this from her heart ~ her heart that was unconditionally loving her two teenage daughters. This mother of teenagers envisioned me ministering to that age group. I started to cry. I thanked her. I asked in my heart that I could be forgiven for thinking she was crazy, and for being so belligerent in not wanting anything to do with Chrysalis.

Since moving to NoDak, I’ve been hungering for more opportunities to minister to teens. I’ve been timid in approaching our youth pastor at our current church, as they have such a good program going and I wonder, “How could I contribute to make it more? It’s already fantastic!” I know, though, I need to get on that. I want to be with those teens and walk with them in their relationship with Christ. I want to tell them the story about how this crazy woman at the W2E had God speak through her, how I tried to ignore Him, and how He brought me to where I am today.

I will never forget those weekends. I will never forget Mrs. A. I will never forget her two teenage daughters. I will never forget that God knows what’s best, and I have no sense in fighting Him.

De Colores.

Drive Safely!

My favorite verse growing up was Matthew 5:16:
Therefore let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve thought of this verse. This morning, however, it came to mind in an unpredictable scenario for sure.

It’s December in North Dakota, and therefore it’s snowing and cold. This morning was no exception. I started the car to let it warm up a bit before making the drive to work. Here’s where I let you in on a little bit of a secret: I have been known to exercise road rage. It’s true. And it’s pathetic. But….I’m praying the Lord will heal me of that one day, because goodness knows other people won’t change how stupidly they drive. *Ahem*

This morning as the snow fell and gathered on vehicles and the roads, I took every extra precaution and safety measure to ensure my arrival to work in one piece. I brushed all the snow off my windows so I could have clear and uninhibited visibility. I brushed off my headlights and tail lights so others could see me. I turned my headlights on and drove slowly and safely, focusing on the road and on others around me.

It was gray, dark, and snowing outside. I was stopped at a stop sign, preparing to make a right-hand turn on to the main avenue that takes me to the interstate. That’s when I saw it. A white car ~ white car, in white snow, with gray sky ~ without its headlights on. Headlights are not to be used solely for the purpose of seeing where you’re going or what’s before you. Headlights are also to be used so other people can see YOU.

Normally, this sort of situation gets me quite riled up. I usually think things like, “Are you just ASKING to be hit?” or “Way to drive defensively. Turn your lights on, so people can see you…moron…” However, this morning, and I kid you not, the first thought that popped in to my head was, “Therefore, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I laughed. Not a hearty belly laugh, but a notable chuckle nonetheless. A car with no headlights that completely blends in to the scenery, and could have very easily been hit ~ by me ~ made me think of a life-application verse. The rest of my drive to work, it was all I could think about. Turning on my car headlights are one thing, but to truly let Christ’s light shine through me, continually, and on a daily basis, is quite another. I know there are times I’ve gone without turning my headlights on. I know there are times I’ve only turned on my parking lights and felt visual enough to the rest of the driving world. But how many times have I become upset when other people don’t do either? How many times have I driven around talking to people who can’t hear me, even if I do raise my voice (okay, I might yell….) telling them to turn their lights on?

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Therefore let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.

I made it to work safely, though there was one close call. My focus for the day, however, is changed. I need Christ to see where I’m going and what’s before me. I also need Him, however, so others can SEE Him through me, and praise Him and give him glory.

Turn your headlights on. Others are in the dark.

Love Through Hate

This has been a fantastic holiday season. Above the stress, hustle, bustle, and more hustle, I have found a peace in my God that I haven’t experienced for a long time. Things have happened, and whether or not I remember to write in my prayer journal, I remember to talk to God. When I’m excited, when I’m beaten down, when I’m scared, I’m able to carry on those conversations with Him I recently thought I had forgotten how to orchestrate.

Allow me to be ultimately reflective. And long-winded.

I do not like birds. At all. Birds give me the heebie jeebies. They’re so fragile, yet so aggressive, and so …. complicated. Plus, they carry diseases. I know this, because my mother raised me to know that I should never touch a bird, because birds carry diseases. I tell a story of one day hitting a bird with my car and driving around (for about 70 miles) with it on my windshield, before finally going to my dad and asking him to remove said bird. It has always been a funny, entertaining story. Several years after it happened, I realized how relative it was to my spiritual walk. Here I go, around for ever and ever with this huge, disgusting obstacle in my life, and it doesn’t go away no matter what I do ~ until I take it to my Heavenly Father. God used a bird…a dead bird, to draw me nearer to Him. Something I can’t stand, God used for His glory and to show me His love and mercy. A dead stinking bird! I still tell the story, but it has a different ending now. A meaningful one. His love, shown through something I hated.

My teenage years were brutal. I was morbidly depressed, miserable, involved in harmful relationships, easily misled….as a whole, I cannot look back on my teenage years with any sense of pride or dignity. I despised my life as a teenager, and no amount of money or persuasion could convince me to give those years another go. As a result, I harbored a lot of ill-will toward teenagers in general. I knew what they were up to, what they were trying to pull, what they wanted to get away with, and I had nothing but contempt for teenagers in my heart. My best friend asked me to serve on team at Chrysalis. (If you’re not familiar with Chrysalis, check it out here) First, I sat in disbelief that she would even consider asking me. She knew how I felt about teenagers. She knew my disdain, and she knew the pain it rendered within me to think about having to relate to people from such a sore spot in my past. I bawled at her dining table. I sat, head in hands, and cried for almost an hour. That night, God used my best friend to reach me in a way I’ll never forget. She looked me square in the eye, and rather matter-of-factly asked me, “Did you stop to think that because of your past, and because of how you are intuitively aware of what teens are thinking, God wants to use you specifically for this purpose?” I couldn’t play a woe-is-me card that would have debunked her words. She wasn’t sympathetic, no matter how much snot, sniffle, or salty tears I tried to decorate her table with. She was right. I had to own up. I had to reconcile with evils I never wanted to face again…and not for my benefit, or necessarily for the benefit of these teens, but for His glory. I fought it…right up until the day those teens walked through the doors to start their weekend retreat, I fought it. I don’t know if I had any influence or impact on those teens that weekend, but I will tell you that God softened my heart. God broke down walls and I was given a new purpose that weekend ~ to love teens like I never thought possible. The girls who were at my table have left lasting footprints on my heart, and I still pray over them. The teens I met who served on the leadership team that weekend were incredible, and I still keep in touch with some of them. God used the most painful, hated era of my life, to once again show me his grace and mercy. That weekend at Chrysalis changed my life. God healed me of my contempt and disdain, and those blessed teenagers were His choice vessels. Smelly, hyper, mouthy teenagers! I love those teens.

I don’t know what God has in store for me next. I don’t know if my next “aha!” moment will come from someone pulling out in front of me, or over anything involving raw fish….but I’m on to Him now. I’ve seen how He uses things I hate, or can’t stand, or have a real problem with, to draw me nearer to Him. The unfortunate thing, is He has such a long list to draw from. Or maybe it isn’t so unfortunate. The fact that my God delivers me from bondage, and actively pursues me, using whatever methods possible ~ that says more to me than anything.

Believe me when I say this ~ there is nothing in your life that can’t work for the greater good. He’s with you now. Regardless of how good, bad, or indifferent things are, He’s there. “Enjoy the quiet moments, for that is when God whispers when the world is loud.”

Frustrated

F…futile
R…ridiculous
U…useless
S…struggle
T…trivial
R…rawr!
A…absurd
T…this is getting harder…
I…irrational
O…oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam…
N…negative

I had so much I was going to spew about as far as what frustrates me (recently, presently) in life, but after doing that letter/word association poem, I am not all that frustrated anymore.

Here’s the deal, I don’t know how to deal properly with frustration. This is very unfortunate considering how often I find myself frustrated. As a Christian, how am I to respond when things frustrate me?

1) Am I to pretend all is well with the world regardless and go on about my business, forcing myself never to feel frustrated?

Answer: Nice try. No way.

2) Am I to let frustration get to me to the point where I issue black eyes to unsuspecting individuals as a form of personal therapy and release and work out my frustrations as such?

Answer: Though incredibly tempting, NAY.

Well then what? Either I let it get to me or I don’t, right?

Maybe.

In one of my talks with God earlier (about five minutes before I started typing this) I asked him, “God, what am I supposed to do when I get frustrated?”

What am I supposed to do when my washing machine breaks? When I struggle with how to allocate our finances? When I step in something wet with my socked feet? When my heater at work breaks and my legs go numb because I’m so cold? When people expect me to help them in ways I can’t? When the florist makes me repeat – three times – information I’ve already given her? When I get tired because people just don’t get it? When I want to be left alone and people won’t leave me be? When I want to be around people, and everyone lets me be? What am I supposed to do?

I heard nothing.

“God, what am I supposed to do when I ask you something but become frustrated because you just sit there to let me figure it out? Hello! Answer me!”

I heard it. A smile. Have you ever heard a smile? I don’t believe I ever had, but that’s the only way to explain it. I heard a smile.

1 Peter 5:7. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Okay, fine. I have no problem giving my problems away. But then what? Do I just sit here and wonder what will happen next?

I heard a smile.

Proverbs 16:3. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

So wait. You mean to tell me you’re going to take my problems ~ if I hand them over to you ~ and then working as if for you, things will work out? What if something happens? What if something goes wrong? And why are you smiling at me?

Matthew 6:33,34. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

And there I have it. Give, Do, Trust.

If someone came to me asking how to deal with frustration, and all the while I had been frustrated with them because they weren’t listening to me trying to tell them how to deal with frustration….I would smile too.

I’m Losing

….or at least I hope to lose.

Brittany and I have been friends for about four years. We waited tables together in Cody, WY. (Shout out to the Sunest House!) She was a senior in high school when she started working there, and I was a married old biddy. We hit it off because she was fun, funny, and down-to-earth. The last quality was one that was lacking in the other youngsters working there, so I was drawn to Britt, and thankful she had a good head on her shoulders.

Last year Brittany moved here to go to school. I was thrilled to have a little piece of home here, and thrilled that my little piece of home was Brittany! We even waited tables together again for a few weeks after her arrival, before I got a different job and decided I couldn’t stand waiting tables anymore. (Five years of food service is enough for this married old biddy.)

Last night I got a call from Brittany. She had been “Martha Stewarting it” all day (her words) and had something for us. I told her to stop on by when it was ready. She showed up with this marvelous, decadent pumpkin cheesecake. People ~ not only did it look amazing, but you should have tasted it. She did a fantastic job, and she made it from scratch!! But it’s cheesecake……and I have a severe allergy to most foods that taste good.

You see, when I eat cheesecake, ice cream, donuts, brownies, etc., my body goes into this wierd allergic reaction mode, and my butt swells. Larger and larger and larger. It’s been happening for years and I keep trying to tell people I’m allergic, but since they don’t see a rash or since I don’t stop breathing, they don’t believe me. It has to be an allergy, though, because my butt has been swelling for the last five years.

Brittany and I got to talking about our weight, our bodies, and our dissatisfaction with ourselves. I told her about my chiropractor and how he is always sneaking stories in of obese people he’s seen recently. My chiropractor is all about total health (as we all should be) but wow is he ever intense on this health thing….

Chiropractor: You know, Val, yesterday I was at the store and I saw this huge couple. Huge. They each had a caribou coffee in their hand, and Val, you should have seen the stuff in their cart. They are loading themselves up with toxins. I don’t get it. How can people do that to themselves?

Me: (sucking in my tummy) Yeah really….who doesn’t want to eat vegetables all the time?

Chiropractor: There are so many foods that are good for you and taste good, and don’t result in obesity.

Me: (wincing from sucking in my tummy) I hear ya…..those crazy big people…..

So I got to thinking yesterday after my spinal adjustment, Oh-my-gosh. My chiropractor thinks I’m FAT! Now, granted, if you had told me five years ago I would ever be wearing double-digit-sized pants, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s the allergy, I’m telling you. My butt won’t squeeze into the good ol’ size 8 or size 6 anymore becuase it’s so swollen from my allergic reaction to food! Okay, so I’ve grown some. But enough with the obesity stories, doc! I told this chiropractor story to Brittany. I didn’t get a, “Val, you’re not fat!” response. Oh-my-gosh. I might not be fat, but you won’t find “slender” or “skinny” in the “descriptive terms about Val” section of the vocabulary of those close to me.

So Brittany and I got to talking and we challenged each other. We are turning a new leaf. Whoever loses the most percentage of body weight by December 15th (6 weeks from now) will be treated to a pedicure and a manicure by the other. We wrote a contract, we have a weigh-in schedule, and we are committed. Baby steps and short-term goals are the way to do it. After these 6 weeks, we’ll come up with another reward for the next 6 weeks, and we won’t stop until we’re satisfied with our energy levels, our physique, and our health.

Last night I bounced on my exercise ball and moved around on that unstable thing for a good hour or more. I bet I burned off a good solid bite of that cheesecake Brittany brought…..and I think it helped my food allergy.

This morning I had fresh pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, and raspberries for breakfast. I have to admit, though it was no jumbo blueberry muffin, it was quite tasty. Instead of a vanilla latte, I’m drinking green tea with honey. It’s no latte, but it’s warm and cozy for my morning.

I’m gonna lose, I tell you, and I’m gonna be happy about losing! Food allergy – BE GONE! (Lord, help me….)

Blah.

I’m having one of those days. One of those days where it feels like there was absolutely no good reason to get out of bed. Really, I’m still reeling from yesterday. Yesterday was a day I wish I could re-do from start to finish. Satan got a grip on me yesterday, swung me around a few times, threw me up against a wall a time or two, danced a little jig, and left me for dead. I wished for death by the time 11:00 p.m. rolled around last night. I didn’t want to deal with the day anymore. All I could think about was what had gone wrong and what I wish I could have done over. All I could think about was what I didn’t have any control over.

I need it. I can’t operate without it. Control.

Today I’ve been rather weepy. Thinking thoughts of how I’m not the person I want to be, how no one in their right mind should want to be around the person I am, and wondering what happened to the person I strove so hard to become.

These are all nasty thoughts. Yet my thoughts seem to be the only thing I can control. Therefore, I think them.

What is it about control? Why is it so desirable for me? Why do I feel that unless my hand is involved in every situation, every situation will go wrong? Why do I feel that when I’m left out of a loop, the loop has to have a short circuit and everything will crumble around me unless I can find a way – any way – in to that loop?

Why, when I know there is so much out of my control, I feel like I’ve failed when there was something I couldn’t control? I convince myself that if I had done something differently, I could have controlled the outcome. If I had done this opposed to that. That opposed to this. If I could…..just……control.

Why, if I am not supposed to maintain control….why, if there are things that are out of my control, do I have the purebred desire to control? Why, if I am supposed to live and let live, be and let be, go with the flow, roll with the punches….do I have the tendency to go nuts when something is “out” of my hands? How can this trait that has helped me to succeed in so many areas so many times before, be the absolute death of my spirit, and cause such rage, despair, and sense of failure?

I am wrestling. I am really wrestling. Why did I fall flat on my face (figuratively, of course, I have no scratches…) yesterday? Why, when I’ve worked so hard to focus on who God is and who He’s made me to be, did all of that fly straight out the window yesterday? Should I not have control over my reactions, actions, words, and deeds? Did I have control yesterday when I did the things I did and said the things I said? If words and deeds are actions of the heart, then why can’t I at least control what I feel, and how I feel about what I feel? Can I say the word “feel” one more time in a sentence? :o)

Blah.

I just want to go back to bed. This wrestling is exhausting me. Control. It’s meaningless. But yet I so desire to have it.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

1 The words of the Teacher, [a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

3 What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

11 There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.