Monday, June 26, 2006

Here's our "baby." Coal is now about 6 1/2 months old. Isn't he cute? He's a little brute and extremely strong, but as sweet as can be. He has tons of energy and loves to play. We've got him enrolled in obedience class and he has one more until he graduates. He's still having a tough time leaving the leash alone, but we'll let it slide for now and continue to work on it. He's very photogenic, as you can tell. I love our little pound puppy!

Day 1 of taking Paul's challenge to work with Mormon Friend:Failed miserably. I'm pretty sure I did everything Paul told us NOT to do. Let's see... so first, I asked about what was going on in her life- not abnormal at all. She told me she went to a baseball game with her church. BING- a light goes on in my head, though I'm not at all prepared to talk about religion or whatever. So we keep talking about baseball games and nose-bleed sections. Then I ask her "So what do you think of your church" and "so what do you believe" and "what about Jesus Christ-what do you believe?" Listening pretty well. Nodding and's all looking good until (you guessed it) I opened my mouth....and told her what I believed. It never turned confrontational but boy did it turn into a tennis match. She believed she had to strive to be like God -smack! I'd tell her I don't believe we're bound by the law anymore- return smack! And so it went on... Then a met a couple of 20 somethings later in the day. They were standing at the freeway off ramp where I turn left to drive home everyday. I sat in my air-conditioned little white car trying not to look at the 20-something-year-old guy with piercing blue eyes, yellowed teeth and dirty t-shirt and jeans. I didn't have any money or food or anything to give to him and his female companion, who looked to be a little younger than myself. I looked up a few moments before the light turned green to see the guy staring me straight in the eyes and the girl clutching her hands together in a begging motion. Their makeshift cardboard sign read "Stranded- need money to get back to NM..." and some other stuff I can't remember. I remember their eyes though, especially as I drove away after shrugging and mouthing to them "I don't have any cash." As soon as I turned left to go toward home the Jesus' voice echoed in my ear "what you do for the least of these you do for me." It nagged me and churned in me and I knew I needed to do something. I drove home with the 20-somethings' faces in my head and prayed they'd stay at the corner in the 110+ degree heat. I let the dog out, grabbed a mini Gideon New Testament Bible and a makeup bag and drove to Target where I grabbed Clif bars and Balance bars, water and mini-toiletries. I prayed more "please let them be there still." The checkout clerk and the woman in front of me buying earrings and hair decorations clearly didn't see that I was in a hurry or they just chose to ignore my finger tapping against my debit card. Didn't they realize I needed to get out of there? I finally got the stuff and hurried out the door of the store, my black heels clicking, my hair falling out of the neat updo I'd created earlier in the day. I drove a few minutes back toward the off ramp and saw them standing there. Now I just needed to find somewhere to park. About a football field away was some industrial building with signs that screamed in big red letters "Unauthorized vehicles will be towed at owners' expense." But there was no where else to park. So I parked at a spot away from the signs, hoping my car would still be there after I walked to the off ramp. Their faces were grateful as I handed them the bags. I chatted for a while with them. They'd been together for two years, lived in New Mexico and worked as telemarketers. They said their jobs weren't "noble." They said they drove out to visit his family after the family promised to pay their way back. After some conflict, they said they left the house, but had no way of getting back home. Frankly, the only reason I tell this story is because of the next step. The next CRUCIAL step. They thanked me for the gifts and I told them it's what Jesus would want me to do and some other stuff. That he brought joy to my life, he was the light in my heart and he's the one who told me to help them. They smiled and nodded in a friendly nature and thanked me more. I told them "good luck" and "I hope everything works out for you in New Mexico" and I walked across the crosswalk which began flashing the red hand. I should have taken the sign as a "sign" and turned around and went back, but I didn't. All I could think of was "I forgot to ask them if I could pray with them" and "I didn't really even share my faith." Yes, I was obedient, but man, am I ever human? It seems like something like that should be the most basic instinct of a Christian. Hurting people + Christian person = PRAYER. But I've never been all that good at math, obviously! Obadiah encouraged me and said that maybe it was just a test to see if I would be obedient. Maybe it wasn't at all about doing the steps I was beating myself up over. Maybe showing Christ to them was all about just reaching out in their time of need. But I'm still having a tough time with both situations because I feel like I've failed. Maybe I've planted a seed somewhere, but maybe I haven't. How is it going to be in Northern Ireland if I can't even develop the instincts here? I know that God will take care of me and that it will be different over there. You can bet I'll be doing a lot of praying and reading my Bible before then, however.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Every day I realize how little I know.
I'm learning how to navigate the harsh waters of office politics. I'm learning how to keep my foot out of my mouth, how to keep to myself and how to let my light shine despite the walls I face each day in my office.
Maybe this is just office life, the way every place feels and how all employees feel at one point or another, but I feel a bit used and abused. I don't get positive feedback and when I do, a caveat is attached to it.
"You're doing a really great job here, but..."
"Thanks for filling space, but could you..."
There's no grace. No empathy. No pat on the back of encouragement.
Part of me wonders why I worked so hard to get where I am.
Is it all for nothing?
Sometimes I want to go and hide under my covers and just forget about the working world. I wonder how I'm ever going to be a good mom if I'm working in the job I am, or how I'm ever going to be there for my family if I pursue my dreams that have turned out to be so bittersweet.
Maybe I'm just new to this and don't understand it. Maybe I can attribute my need for encouragement and support to this generation I grew up in, which depends so highly on outward stimulation and appreciation.
Maybe. Maybe my expectations have been too high and that I've grown up in a bubble of teachers and books and grades always giving me my satisfaction. I had the stellar grades, I pursued my collegic dreams, I got the scholarship, met the man of my dreams, got married, got a dog (no white-picket fence). But why this dissatisfaction? Why do I feel underappreciated and just plain used?
The grass is always greener, as the cliche goes. I know that I'll never feel as appreciated or loved as I'd want to feel and find myself depending more on God as I cling to truth and the soft-spoken words whispered within. Hold on. You're trying your best. You're doing great.
Is it the job, or is it something more in the depths of my heart?
I don't want to lose my passion for what I'm doing, but I feel it waning as I deal with yet more expectations outside of myself, the ones that weigh on me heavier than the load I already choose to carry. Yes, my head says 'give Jesus your load, surrender.' Much easier said than done. How do you just coast?
I'm learning every day. And it's not easy.