All I Did Was Blink

Being 39: Where I've been, Where I am, and Where I'm going…

Name That Feature! January 30, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 4:51 pm
Question marks on the wall

Image by PitsLamp photography via Flickr

OK gang, I have decided it is time for a weekly feature.

As I have deconstructed boxes and continue throwing away useless accumulated items from my life, I have also come across plenty of treasures.

Like the decades old magazine full of stories about people long gone and dated ads for products, some of which we still use.

Like the never delivered cards and letters I have written to various meaningful people in my life…this one hurts my heart a bit. But I am choosing to send some of them anyway. We shall see what comes of it.

There are photos full of fabulous stories of my family and friends. I found my mother’s baby shower album from just before I was born.

Each week I will pick some interesting (to me?) piece of memorabilia and write about it. Maybe it will be a short story. Maybe it will be random thoughts. Maybe it will be just a photo meant to stir up conversation…

What shall I call it?? Hopefully you can help me figure that one out. Leave your ideas in the comment section and I will narrow the field from both here and my Facebook page. Perhaps we will have a poll by the end of the week.

 

He must increase, but i must decrease January 27, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 9:52 pm
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John the Baptist baptizing Christ

Image via Wikipedia

Earlier today I used this phrase in a comment left on yesterday’s post. Actually, I said, “less of me, more of Him.” I have used this as a tagline in my email. I have thought about how the phrase as it reads could apply to my everyday life. But as soon as I typed the response to my friend a while ago, I decided I needed a refresher about where the words are found in scripture and the context in which they were first spoken.

John 3: 26-31 NASB

26And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.”

27John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

28“You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’

29“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice So this joy of mine has been made full.

30“He must increase, but I must decrease.

31“He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth He who comes from heaven is above all.

A few personal observations (disclaimer – this is not intended as a theological commentary in ANY way):

John the Baptist‘s followers were coming to John to say that Jesus was baptizing as John had been and that He (Jesus) appeared to be gaining many followers, in fact, taking from Johns own flock. Based on John’s response, it seems they were concerned that John was loosing his celebrity, his numbers were dropping. John’s use of this phrase seems to be saying, ‘Look, this is exactly what I have tried to explain to you all along. My role has been to announce His arrival and to create a buzz..now that He is here, I need to fade into the background! My peeps should really be His peeps if I have done my part correctly. It thrills my soul to hear what you are telling me right now!!’

So, how does this phrase really relate to me and my everyday life?

First, I never want eyes on me for the sake of my edification. If there is anything good or right that comes out of my mouth, the glory should all go to the One I follow. Pride has no place in my service to Him.

Second, I rejoice greatly when I hear of what God is doing in and through others. I get excited about eternity when I see that God’s word is penetrating the souls of men no matter who may have been the message bearer in His name. Jealousy only serves to keep me from being productive in whatever opportunities may be before me at any given moment.

Third, and this one is a bit of a departure from the context found in John chapter 3, my use of this phrase specifically as it pertains to yesterday’s post and the comments that followed was meant to convey that I never want the challenges of my life to shine brighter than the One who sees me through them!

Maybe I am way off base here. Maybe I am still not clear on the applicability of this phrase to my personal life. I would love to hear from YOU, readers, on the subject. Leave a comment at the end of this post. Lets ‘talk’. 😉

 

real January 25, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 8:23 pm
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Mask statue1

Image via Wikipedia

i see the mask that i wear

it’s in place on my face

tightly wound like i’m bound to some secret even i don’t want to know about

This is the beginning of a poem I wrote about ten years ago. I used to have more of it memorized than what is here. When I put my hands on the copy again maybe I will post the rest of it. What I have shared has run around in my mind lately as I have been away from my blog. My intentions are for this year to be about getting my mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, relational and surrounding ‘house’ in order. I am doing this with some degree of success already. What I know is coming throws my internal walls up faster than you can say, “Where is the happy blog??”!

Ultimately, and in spite of what often comes out on the screen, I am a truly happy person. I have a faith that is strong, a family that loves me, a man who would do anything for me, friends willing to sharpen and encourage. I am blessed beyond measure. I love life. I love music and nature, travel and being at home. I enjoy reading, movies, cooking and baking, entertaining, laughing…

It’s just that there are some big things that need to be addressed on a deeper level than I have ever allowed myself to really go. The ugly past stuff that has helped shape some of the less happy parts of my life. Most of us have history that we would rather not repeat lurking around somewhere back there. Some harsher than others. I despise the word victim. It sounds weak, like there was no hope for the victimized to have any other outcome than what they have experienced.

Why is it that some who face adversity are able to shake off the dust of the past and seemingly excel at life in general? And then there are those who carry a load of chains wrapped around their entire being that simply drags them down, getting them stuck in the muck and mire of bottom dwelling.

For a while there is an ability to mask or hide what burdens the soul. There is a façade. A persona. Eventually that veil gets lifted or removed to show hurt and pain, confusion and defensiveness.

Late last night I typed for a couple of hours. The beginnings of something, what – I am still uncertain. Hopefully my thoughts today have not been too random. I am still in that writing head space. Just thinking ‘out loud’ on the blog…

Be encouraged readers, our journeys do not have to be solitary ones. I may be kicking and screaming but I am moving forward, thanks in part to several of you!

PS…post-a-day?? HA!! yeah right…not these days;) Ah well…I do enjoy reading from others though…maybe a little too much…

 

 

Breathing and Boxes and Blogs…Oh My! December 31, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 3:18 pm
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A small plate with a serving of mashed potatoes.

Image via Wikipedia

This week was filled with kleenex and clear soda, mashed potatoes and hot tea…and lots of wishing I could breathe thru my nose. (you are most welcome for the over-share)

It has also been filled with progress, the most progress I have seen in my ‘blink’ year yet since starting my blog back in September.

The time had come to completely clear out the storage spare room. Our living room has temporarily taken on the role of box/bin (eyesore) space. Eyesore is the word of the week and seemingly – suddenly the best motivation to date to move me forward in my purging process!

Yay!! I have sent a carload of items to Good Will and have more ready to go. I have gone through no less than 6 boxes in the last few days and cut the contents by half.

The seven month plan is now squeezed into the four-month plan…small fail on my part, but I am newly optimistic that this In My Face approach is a winner-winner-chicken-dinner:)

Oh yeah, and now I am taking on this blog-a-day challenge…we shall see.

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!!!

 

Good Grief? Pt.1 December 7, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 7:27 pm
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Father and daughter

Image by apdk via Flickr

Grief is such a strange thing. Today marks 20 years since my father passed away. I was 19. The memories come flooding back as I type these words. The day was filled with commotion. One of my sisters was trying to travel across two states to see him before he died.

She did not make it.

I answered the phone and tried to pass her off to my mother. She said; ‘just tell me’.

It was a peaceful night and morning. I had been sleeping on the sofa in the living room as daddy had been moved to a hospital bed in our dining room. Mom was up and sitting with him off and on. At one point she called me in to observe his breathing.

“I think his breathing has slowed.” “Yep. It has.”

I went back to sleep.

In the morning as mom was making breakfast she called me in to look at him again. No rise and fall of the chest. No sound of air passing through his lungs or nose. Then he took a breath in, held it, let it out. It was his last.

The night before, some of the family had gathered. Dad was talking, joking. We each took a few moments with him alone. I told him that I knew he needed to go but that he was supposed to walk me down the aisle at my wedding someday, he was supposed to be with me through the many coming changes to my life. I held his hand. I told him we would be OK.  The hospice literature and nurses assured us that these were the right things to say to him as he held on, it’s OK to let go…we will be fine.

I still am not ‘fine’.

At first I was depressed. I had left college to be with him for what turned out to be his last month of life. I never returned. I turned inward for several months. It took years to not fall apart on every birthday, anniversary, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, flag day, sunny day, snowy day, rainy day…

His death shook me. Changed me. Changed all of us.

December 7 was also the birthday of one of my brothers. I am sure he never truly recovered. He was not with us through the process of saying goodbye, he was not at the funeral.

My brother died two months after 9/11. My sister died last Christmas. They both struggled so much with the loss of our father.

The rest of my siblings and my family finally no longer call each other on December 7 to cry over the phone. We no longer call on dad’s birthday or mom and dad’s anniversary. I can barely wrap my mind around 20 years past. There is a space in my heart and life that will always wish he were here with me, with us.

This year is supposed to be about me letting go of some long-held ‘stuff’ in my life, figuratively and literally. As I de-clutter my home and my heart, I rediscover anew the things that have truly meant the most to me in life. People. Love. Relationship. Honesty. Loyalty. Integrity. Laughter. Tears. Connection. Grief.

Yes. Even grief. If I do not grieve someone’s dying, then I must have completely missed out on their living. That could very well be the saddest thing I could ever imagine.

 

 

Boxes, Treadmills and Halloween November 3, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 10:28 am
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dog on treadmill

Image by normanack via Flickr

If I were to tell you that I have emptied as many boxes as there have been days since my ‘box #1’ post, you would all be jumping for joy and congratulating me profusely!!

Umm…hold the applause:(

Yes, I emptied box #1. Yes, it feels good to accomplish something so tedious (box # 1 was ALL paper – blech). But box #1 did not lead to box #’s 2, 3,4…

In the meantime, I am not deterred! I shall not be moved!! Well, I shall be moved in about 6 months, therefore I shall not be moved when it comes to accomplishing my goal! Even better, I know I have the full support of my patient and loving husband, who does not welcome this two month lay-off of his but embraces the project as a joint effort during this time!! Yeah, that is awesome support!

Also in the meantime, we have acquired a treadmill, and NO it will NOT become an extra clothes hanger..if it ever does, it will be the very next thing to exit our lives just as quickly as it came! More about said treadmill in a future post. I will tell you, however, that acquiring the treadmill meant loosing two televisions, a table and a cooler..go me!! (they were leaving anyhow, but this was a good reason to say yes to a gift of such size and potential positive influence…thanks M&D – you rock!)

Now, back to Halloween. My guest writer shared her thoughts on the holiday here last Sunday and I am thankful that she was so willing to be with us. Thanks so much, Shannon;)

I am in search of some old photos and stories of past Halloween happenings in my family – if I do not find them in the next couple of days we are moving on because now is the time for focus. More blogging, more walking, more boxes emptied!!!

ONWARD!!!

 

Redeeming Halloween – Guest Writer October 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — itsahappyblog @ 4:28 pm
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Halloween Costumes 1959

Image by Abby Cadaver via Flickr

*a note from itsahappyblog* This is a guest post from my friend ‘Shannon’. Thanks so much for filling in for me today, Shannon!! My memories and thoughts on Halloween to follow later this week. I would love to hear from my readers below the post!

 

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” Martin Luther

As you may have heard, or may personally practice yourself, many Christians are not “down” with the practice of Halloween. Some steer their children from trick-or-treating to Harvest parties. Some shun the holiday altogether. This is not a manifesto against either. I am not writing to spark debate. This is simply a statement of a position I have felt called to articulate for a while now. I find that there are few Christian voices that articulate why Christians would, in good conscience, celebrate Halloween. This is my humble attempt to do just that.

 

For those who are confused about why some Christians step back from Halloween, I think it boils down to two main issues 1) fear of the power of the devil and his minions 2) a strong belief that celebrating the holiday means participating in occult and pagan rituals which stand in opposition to God. I can understand these issues, so I am not going to try to argue against them. Rather, I’d like to offer the reasons why I do celebrate Halloween with my children.

 

Halloween’s not my favorite holiday. If I had to rank holidays, I’d say it falls just after Dr. King’s birthday and Veteran’s Day on my list (which I also celebrate with my kids). As a Christian, I do have my concerns about the way it is practiced. I do have my own fears about it—fears rooted in the hate crimes my family experienced seventeen years ago this weekend. But frankly, I believe that there are more reasons to be concerned about the way that Christmas and Easter are celebrated in our country than Halloween. That is because their celebrations, which are rooted in the Christian faith, often neglect Christ almost entirely in common practice.

 

So instead of shunning Halloween, I choose to engage it. I help my kids dress up. I take them “trick-or-treating”, which is more about walking up to houses for free candy than ever tricking anyone. I pass out candy to the hundreds of kids who walk down my street on their way to the “better” neighborhoods.  I talk to neighbors who excitedly decorate their homes with scary décor. I even make my own pitiful attempt at Halloween decorations—fake spider webs tangle among the real ones around my door, and “caution-danger” tape wraps around the 200 year-old tree which makes our house look creepy year-round.

 

I do all this because I honestly feel more Christ-like by engaging in this community event than shutting it out. That’s what my husband and I want to teach our kids to do. We choose not to fear our kids being corrupted by the scare and gore (which I really don’t like) but talk to them about what we see and offer them a foundation at home that we hope will set them on the right path.  We seek to practice hospitality to those who might otherwise not receive it. We seek to love God fervently and our neighbors graciously (although I still struggle being nice to those punks who egged my door last year).

 

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis mocks the devil in his depiction of demons. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend checking it out because I like his idea. I like the idea of making fun of the devil the way gargoyles did outside ancient churches. I also appreciate the notion of poking fun at ourselves so that we do not give him a foothold. I’ve even entertained the thought of dressing like pop-culture celebrity “Snooky” this Halloween, although I fear the resemblance may be so startling, I would terrify children and adults alike.

 

This Halloween, my girls will be mocking witches and Greek goddesses (my son will be emulating his hero, Uncle Mitch, as a pilot). Because to them, as most kids, Halloween is about getting candy and dressing up, playfully running through crunchy leaves on neighbors lawns, and giggling with their friends. Reformation Day and All Saints Day are this weekend as well, and we will be teaching our kids about those. We do these things because we want our kids to feel the love that we, and God, have for them.

 

We are reading through the Heidelberg Catechism with our kids this year to hopefully instill in them the appreciation for the Reformed Confessions that we share.  But more importantly, we want our kids to know the commandments Jesus gave us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” My hope and prayer is that our three kids will grow up and say, “My parents may not have always gotten it right, but they were committed and courageous followers of Jesus”.



 

 
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