Thursday, August 24

I'm hating life

I'm tired. I'm tired of school, work, being broke, being stuck here, not hearing from God, not having the answers, having purpose but no direction, looking for roommates, having to get out of bed. I don't want to deal with life. I need a vacation. This summer of unemployment was no vacation as I sat broke, consumed with financial worries, waiting for checks, and being bound to this state by mandatory weekly classes. Now it is fall and I've had no relaxation, no escape. I am overwhelmed. I am painfully aware at how unsuccessfully I am handling life. On paper it looks like I should be making enough, but in reality I am not. Why doesn't my pocketbook match up with my budget. I rarely buy anything these days. And I'm complaining about money because I'd rather obssess over that than deal with the problem at hand... my final paper. It is 16 of the 31 assignments due at 6:00 tonight. I have 8 hours of which I will be working, to attempt to distract the kids long enough to put enough logical thoughts down on paper to appease my professor to give me a passing grade (despite the fact that I won't be turning in the other 6 assignments that I am behind. This system isn't working for me. This double work week gets me feeling like I am behind when I start a class, and then I never catch up. I hate existing right now. I deperately need a carefree moment.

Tuesday, August 22

Inspiring Me Today

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Drawing Near to Darkness by Os Hillman, August 22, 2006

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. - Exodus 20:21

Like the nation of Israel, we are each called to the mountain of God, but few are willing to pass through the darkness to get there. God wanted to reveal His glory to the children of Israel, but they were afraid to enter into His presence. They only wanted to know about God, rather than know him personally like Moses did. This grieved the heart of God.

Why wouldn't the people of Israel risk entering the darkness if it meant being in the presence of God? What did the people fear?

Perhaps they had fears like each of us. The fear of the unknown. The fear of what might happen. The fear that God might not like what He sees. Or, perhaps even the greatest fear: the fear of darkness itself and what lies behind that darkness.

Many of us have been satisfied to hear about God from God's messengers. But there is a greater calling for each of us-a calling to enter into His presence. Sometimes entering into His presence means we enter through an unexpected door-a door that appears to have nothing good behind it.

We do not need to fear entering the presence of God even if it means entering through a period of darkness. Above all else we must believe that God is a God of love. If He calls us into darkness in order to enter His presence, then that darkness will become an entry to new levels of relationship with a God who longs for fellowship with you and me.

Thursday, August 17

My Good Samaritan Story

Becky Streckel lives in a downtown Chicago apartment complex with her fiancé, Tom. She is a young piano teacher who gives lessons out of their house, while Tom works late hours at his engineering firm. With paper thin walls, the neighbors often hear the sweet melodious sounds of Becky playing piano in the evening. A Mormon Bishop named John Carrow lives with his wife below the Steckels. They enjoy listening to Becky’s performance over their after dinner tea.

Above the Steckels lives Patricia, a single mother of 2 young boys who works as a social worker at a home for the elderly. Patricia always thought Becky’s soothing performance help lullaby her boys to sleep.

The Steckels have another neighbor who they don’t know about. Ken is hardly ever seen and never acknowledge when seen. It has been about 2 years since Ken had been paroled. Never quite growing accustomed to living a legitimate life, he soon found himself struggling to keep a job and sleeping in an unlocked gardening shed in an alley along side the Steckel’s apartment complex. He walks the streets during the day begging for money, scavenging for food, and evading police who would find his current situation a breach of his parole. When darkness approaches, Ken returns to the shed to escape the chaos and cold of the city. He finds amazing peace as he lays there listening to Becky’s music flow out their open window.

On this particular Fall evening, the neighborhood was settling into it’s quite ritualistic hum. Becky opened her favorite playbook and picked a slow solemn song to start with. Hearing the intro, reminded Mrs. Carrow below that it was time to put the kettle on for their evening tea. When Patricia heard the melodies rise up through the floorboards, she took a moment to pause from getting the kids’ pajamas out of the drawer. Ken unrolled his mat he kept tucked away in the shed and left the shed door cracked just a bit to listen.

Becky’s fiancé, Tom, had been recently denied a promotion at work. Bitterness had been filling him where once there was self assuredness. His job lost satisfaction for him as he felt incompetent, fearful, and unappreciated. Furthermore, money was tight. Earlier in the day, Tom had been forced into being a scapegoat for an unfinished project by his boss. When he came home, his tone was sharp and his temper short. As he entered the living room of their 2nd floor apartment, Becky’s playing abruptly stopped and was replaced with the unpleasantries of arguing.

Below, the Carrow’s squirmed uneasily in their chairs trying to ignore the bickering above. The sipped their tea nervously. They heard a male voice growing louder and louder. Then there was a *smack* followed by a *thud*. Mrs. Carrow jumped in her seat, her eyes open large as she looked to John for reassurance. Surely as a Mormon Bishop, he had dealt with couples in these situations before. John assured her that he would call the police if it continued. But then it seemed to be over. There was the sound of the door slamming followed by stomping footsteps echoing down the stairwell. John said, “I think it’s alright now” as he flipped on the radio to drown out the crying coming from above.

Likewise, Patricia had been concerned by the noise coming from the apartment below. She was shocked to hear the progression of the climatic fight. She nervously scanned the boys who were finally asleep. She feared if it would wake them if it continued. Although she was a social worker, she didn’t come across cases like this in the elderly field in which she worked. When she heard the door slam, she thought to herself that if she ever heard them fight like that again, she would make a call to a social worker friend who worked at a battered women’s shelter. She worried that the echoing sounds of weeping rising up from below would infiltrate her sweet children’s dreams. She put on a quiet peaceful lullaby CD to cover the cries and tip-toed out of their room.

Ken shivered from the coldness out in the gardening shed. When the fighting began, he contemplated shutting the cracked door for more warmth. But he couldn’t seem to stop listening. He winced at the sound of the impactful hit. He was overcome with compassion at that moment. Not long after he saw Tom emerge from the building scowling as he stomped down the sidewalk and around the corner. He looked up to the second story window where sad sounds of sobbing escaped into the brisk night air. Ken thought of church downtown where he sometimes was able to get a meal. They also ran a shelter for women and children. He put on his shoes and buttoned his coat closing the shed door behind him.

Ken was nervous as he entered the building and climbed the stairwell. He knew that he wasn’t supposed to be inside the complex. The residents would disapprove. They may even call the police. He no longer passed as a normal person, as his appearance had grown so disheveled over the months without the ability to launder himself or his clothes. He felt ashamed of himself, as he approached the east facing apartment of 2b. His knock at the door startled the cries inside.

Becky frantically wiped her tears and blew her nose. She pulled her sweater sleeve to cover the still red marks on her arm where Tom had held her so forcefully. Her stomach turned as she felt that surely whoever was at the door would judge her. Again there was a light knock. She glanced at herself in the entry mirror and knew she would be fooling nobody. She cracked the door a few inches and peered out into the hallway where she found Ken’s kind eyes of concern and compassion.

“Maam, are you alright?” Ken stammered. “I don’t mean to pry but I kind of heard your argument and I thought maybe you needed checking. My name is Ken.” The kindness melted Becky’s façade as she began to cry again. She pulled the door open to this stranger and turned to stumble to her piano bench where she collapsed in her tears. Ken hesitantly followed her in. Becky expressed her hopelessness as her family was out in Boston and she had nobody to turn to for help. Ken told her about the Sisters of St. Francis shelter down on 8th and Turner assuring her that he was positive they’d know how to help her. Becky feared being home when Tom returned. She knew she must leave but she was scared. Ken knew that the 20 block walk to downtown would be insufferable for him as the cold wind would be sure to cut through his deteriorated thin coat and chill him to the bone, but he could see that Becky was in no shape to go this alone. He turned and grabbed her coat, scarf, and hat that hung on a hook by the door. She gratefully rose to her feet and allowed him to help her weak and aching body into her overcoat. She grabbed her purse and locked the door behind them, never to return to apartment 2b again. As she leaned on Ken for those 20 blocks, she was not once bothered by his stench.

Monday, August 7

This weekend was mighty. Friday night I went to see the latest new flick by Mr. Shamaylan, which I really enjoyed. I went with my roommate Kendra, who happens to be one of my most favorite people to go to movies with. The reason being is that she provides this very entertaining side show of how enthusiastically she interacts with the film. The girl will scream, literally jump out of her seat and practically into my lap, laugh at the top of her lungs at even lame jokes, and hide behind me. It's hilarious fun to watch her. She really enjoys her movie experience. She enjoys most everything in life. It's very refreshing to catch her in this perspective. I wish my life experiences left me as energized as hers do.

Saturday I went through Pampered Chef 101. I am debating becoming a consultant. (Anybody want to host a show?) Anyways, It was hours at a consultant training session and then stayed after to question the director about every aspect of consultancy. Now I am at the point of questioning myself about how much time and energy I have to commit to this even on a short term. It is easy to commit now as I feel an abundance of free time. However, starting next week I get 2 more work days added to my weekly calendar. And then there are already a plethora of weeknight functions and obligations that I am involved with or desiring to participate in. Do I have time for one more thing and at what cost?

Saturday night was such great fun. Foxworthy Fondue Feast... Liz on cheese. Lisa on chocolate. Dipping platters were filled to the brim with all sorts of goodness. Appropriately, we had Chocolat playing on the screen. What a terrific spiritual movie!

Sunday morning church shopping landed us at Life Church. It was the small no resource close knit community that I have been raised in. It was healing and I scored an awesome Bible out of it. The opening page reads: What is the effect when you read the pages of this book? That is to say perhaps nothing.

Our afternoon led us to the mall to cash in on free panties. But along the way we encountered a woman clearly bent and bitter on life, yet in this stunning denial. She hid behind strength and although needing comfort, she refused any kindness offered to her. She filled our minds with prayers for her. We got the panties, had some lunch, and went on our way hoping our friend would have the breakdown she clearly needed soon.