Category Archives: faith/spirituality

My first post at Paradise Uganda blog

I forgot to tell you that I posted my first post at the Paradise, Uganda blog. I actually posted it before my little musing the other day but it ironically touched on the same theme: being on the outside, looking in, and wondering why you’re there.

For the record, what I originally thought I was volunteering to write is nothing like where my blog posts are going – and with the blessing of my dear friends. Rather than help with the fundraising “rah rah”, I’m writing more about faith and life and … well, stuff that’s where I’m most comfortable. Yay!

Here’s the beginning of the post; there’s a link at the end that’ll take you to the Paradise, Uganda blog where you’ll also see a little video of Jesse in Africa:

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When my friend Jesse Sprinkle asked me if I wanted to be involved in a project he was working on, I didn’t ask what it was or what he needed from me. There are moments in your life when someone asks and you say yes and you know it’s exactly as it should be.

I’m not a musician. I’m not a missionary. I’m not a fundraiser or a world traveler. I’m not hip or cool or trendy.

I’m just a writer. For years I’ve written feature articles in magazines and websites on everything from entertainment to dog food. I love telling stories. So when Jesse asked me to join the team for Paradise, Uganda, I signed on for the one task I knew how to do: blog.

It’s never easy jumping into a project that’s already been moving along at mach speed. It’s difficult to find your place, to keep up, to feel part of the crowd. The things I’d originally planned to blog about … well, they just don’t seem like where I’m supposed to be. The ideas I had … someone else has them, too. The things I thought I brought to the table … not so helpful right now.

It would be easy to just back out, just say, “Gee, I don’t think I’m supposed to be here, I think I made a mistake” and go home and hide under a rock because I don’t fit in.

And yet I know I’m supposed to be here. I don’t know how or why I know, I just do. (Click here to finish reading on the Paradise, Uganda blog)

Three lessons I learned this month about following God

So I’m up at 7 AM because I need to write. Not want to write or have something I’d like to think about writing. I neeeeeed to write. Like, if I don’t write it, it’ll cause me great pain.

It’s about the concept of following God.

As you know, I’ve volunteered for a project recently. Without going into a lot of details, I was ready to work. Ready, willing, and able to do this and this and that, because I’m very experienced at this and this and that, and I’m very good at this and this and that, and the project needed this and this and that.

Perfect match, right? So I volunteered. And talked at length about doing this and this and that and thought I was part of the team and all was good.

Except – and if you’ve ever volunteered for something and God was in any way involved – this and this and that just wasn’t happening. That and that and this other thing were going full speed ahead, and a whole lot of other that and that and this other thing were happening and successful. Except me and my this and this and that were over on the sidelines by ourselves saying, “Hey, what about us?”

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

The problem, of course, wasn’t the project. The problem was me. I was focused on what I’d volunteered to do, not on what was being done. Sure, I can do this and this and that, but maybe this and this and that isn’t needed any more. Or maybe someone else stepped up to do this and this and that and they do it just fine.

But I wanted to help. I wanted to be part of the whole thing. I offered and they said yes and then everything moved and I was left behind.

Really. Even I see how glaringly arrogant that sounds.

So lying in bed last night, feeling left out - boo hoo for poor me - it occurred to me that if I focused instead on what did happen instead of what didn’t, maybe I’d learn a lesson.

Or three.

Here goes … Continue reading

Learning to say “yes” again (except when I have to say “no”)

I needed a photo to run with this post, and Bailey taking a dip in the Fountain of Eternal Life at the cemetery seemed as good a choice as any.

It’s been a crazy week, what with my outing to McGraws last Thursday and my last minute decision to attend my 30 year high school reunion. That’s more social interaction than I’ve had in the last six months.

But I’ve been mulling something over in my mind and I think maybe it’s fermented enough to mull over out loud.

Regular readers of my blog (or my column) already know I freely blab about my creative fears, hopes, successes and failures. I sometimes feel like a creative train wreck.

But I had a long chat last week with an old friend, Pastor Samme; we know each other from my days in Christian music. I had finally reached a place where, before I imploded, I needed desperately to talk to someone who knows and understands me (as opposed to, oh let’s hypothetically say, a relationship counselor of some sort who knows jack about me but still needs to offer advice because I’m paying her). And while I don’t attend his church (or any right now), I just knew in my heart Pastor Samme would understand what’s going on in my head and be able to offer some insight.

I was right. He gave me two plus hours of talking and crying and pondering. Continue reading

I’ll never be a leader in my generation. I’m not even a leader in my dog pack.

“I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught.”

     – Cardinal John Nenry Newman

* * * * * * *

So I’ve had this book idea rolling around in my head for a while. It’s a great idea. I even had an agent tell me he’d work with me if wrote the proposal. I never did anything with it. If you read my blog earlier this week, you know that fear of failure, fear of success, and a host of other fears keep me rooted in place more often than not.

Anyway, while doing some research for another idea I set out to contact a writer who I once worked with at another publication, and lo and behold, she has written a book that is very, very, eerily similar to my idea. Got a major endorsement from a famous name in Christian circles calling her the next leader in our generation, blah blah.

She didn’t steal my idea, I’m not saying that. It’s a very general idea, and once I can’t believe more people haven’t written about. She just wrote the stupid book I never did.

Someone once told me that God will get the job done, whether or not you obey when he gives you the assignment. Is that what happened?

Sigh. I’ll never be a leader in my generation. Shoot, I’m not even a leader in my own dog pack. Then again, maybe I’m not supposed to be a leader of my generation. I’m just supposed to do the job God gives me. If I fail, I have to believe he’ll use me again. I feel strongly, for example, that my mission right now is to be a voice for people who can’t find the words to say what they need to say or find a way to make people listen.

You know what? I don’t need fame or accolades to do that. As Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote:

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught.”

I’m blogging at Patheos.com

If you’ve been wondering where I am lately, here’s some big news: I’m recently taken over the Heavenly Creatures blog at Patheos.com, where I’m blogging about animals, life and spirituality! It’s a fun new writing opportunity, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to write about something I love and (hopefully) make a little money at the same time. Check out the new blog at http://www.patheos.com/community/heavenlycreatures!

TripBase “My 7 Links” Blog Project – My favorite posts and 5 blogs for you to check out

I was “tagged” this week by Carol Bryant at Fido Friendly’s blog to take part in the TripBase “My 7 Links” blog projects, designed “To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.” Thanks, Carol!

My task: to share with you 7 links from my blog and then 5 blogs you ought to check out. So here goes!

My most popular post – Strictly in terms of page views, this is the post that has gotten the most views all time on the Notes From The Funny Farm blog: Continue reading

Sanctuary is wherever I lie my head (or in this case, Sleepy Nap Time)

It’s more than a little ironic that this week I was supposed to write a piece on the idea of “sanctuary” as part of conversation hosted by the Patheos Book Club about the book, “ Sweet Sanctuary“, by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma.

It’s a lovely story about spiritual healing and forgiveness and … there’s a party … and … argh. If I could clear my head I could tell you more.

But my work to-to list has tripled in length in the last 72 hours. The cat is rolling around on my laptop keyboard (he’s already removed the “t”, “F3” and “alt” keys and sent an email I didn’t write). The dogs are barking non stop at the neighbor trimming his hedges, and the puppy is shredding yet another couch cushion.

Excuse me while I scream.

It’s not been a bad week, although it might sound like it from that little snapshot. I’ve gotten some paying work (yay!) and all of the dogs are healthy (yay!) and Bandit and I are planning a trip in a couple of weeks to go to a pet blogging conference (woof!).

But sometimes, even an overload of good things can be too much. Add in some wet dogs and pillow stuffing strewn around the living room and, well, let’s just say, Mommy needs a nap. Continue reading

Balancing my chakra (or maybe I just need more Oreos)

Twenty years ago today. I can't tell from this picture which chakra was out of balance. Maybe those poofy sleeves were holding me up.

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary. Twenty years ago today, it was raining and I got my hair done, both things that happened today. Had we set up a dance floor in a field and partied under the stars with our family and friends it would have been a complete deja vu.

But I digress.

This has been a very stressful few weeks for me, so when I sat down in the salon chair today and Scott introduced me to his personal assistant, and told her about how I’d been a customer for years, and did I remember that commercial I did for them, and on and on, it kind of pushed me over the edge. I think my emotional stress level was already at code red, and talking about a commercial I did for him about 10 years ago – when I was younger, thinner and way less gray – tipped the scale.

So I started crying.

Of course I freaked everyone out. Scott said we needed to stop and rebalance, so he sent his assistant Sara to get the chakra chart. He told me to, without thinking, point to two colors that I liked. I picked purple and orange. Then he had Sara gets some spray bottles. he sprayed a little of each near me and told me to pick the scent that I liked best. One was disgusting; but the other was actually really nice.

(Before he sprayed, I reminded him that I’m super smell sensitive, and that if this gave me a migraine I was going to be really pissed off. I don’t know if there’s a scent to rebalance the bitch chakra.)

Anyway, he said that I picked the color that corresponds to my “chakra 2″ or the pleasure/lumbar center.

Er … okey dokey. Continue reading

Reading the Bible in amazement

I was asked to participate this week in a blogger roundtable on Michael Card’s new book, Luke, The Gospel of Amazement. In the book, Card encourages readers to experience the Bible more deeply using what he calls “biblical imagination”.

We don’t read the Bible expecting to be amazed, do we? We’re surrounded by so many amazing things every day – electricity, indoor plumbing, organ transplants, space travel – that we’ve become immune to the concept. We treat the Scriptures like outdated literature, worth slogging through as part of our religion, but a text lacking in anything that would actually boggle our mind.

But what if you took the time to study more than just the words on the page? Took time to smell the smells and hear the sounds and feel the heat of the desert and the waves of the sea?

You can read my entire post on Patheos.com; I chose to explore Luke 2, and look at the events of the shepherds from their eyes. Truly amazing!

And you can check out all of the Patheos Book Club entries on the website.

Neveda honor students plan “attack a teacher day”; can we really love our neighbors in this technological age?

FoxNews.com today has a story about six middle school students in Nevada who used Facebook to promote “Attack a Teacher Day.”

The girls – one who is 13, five who are 12 – allegedly invited 100 friends from two separate middle schools in Carson City, NV to participate in the “event” between 7 AM and 9 AM today. Fourteen friends accepted the invitation, leaving comments that included the names of teachers the planned to attack.

Alerted by a parent, the girls were brought to the principal’s office and then arrested on charges of coveying a threat.

Here’s the thing: these are honor students, good kids with no history of making trouble. They told officials they were just joking around, but Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong told FoxNews.com that some of the responses to the girls’ Facebook event were very serious. He says:

“They just clearly don’t understand the lethal potential of something like this going out of control. And that’s to assume the kids were sincere in that they thought it was funny. But the actual threats posted were not funny at all.”

It’s a scary thing, isn’t it? When supposedly good kids find it funny to threaten their teachers with physical attacks?

It’s a symptom, though, of what happens when we become disconnected from each other in a growing technological society. Kids – and adults – spend so much time interacting with each other via text messaging and social networking sites that they forget that they’re talking with other humans. If the method of creating this “event” meant creating posters and hanging them in the cafeteria, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that these girls would have been horrified at the thought – of being caught, of actually interacting with their fellow students who might take it seriously, of having to look at the teachers they planned to attack.

So here’s today’s food for thought:  Technology has made it possible for us to be anonymous online - so why is it that we use that anonymity to be mean and evil, instead of kind and loving? Why is cyber bullying on the rise – why not random acts of anonymous kindness? And most importantly, can we even really love our neighbors the way Jesus taught when we live in a virtual society?