Tuesday, April 28, 2009

fillers

During my TOEFL training, one of the things I heard in almost every single session in the teaching segment was the importance of having fillers. (Planned activities to fill up time in case part of your lesson ended early or the class was extended, etc.)

When I was writing, the advice tidbit I heard over and over was to be involved with people, but guard your writing time so it didn't become filled with up people and their wants/needs.

This past week I have felt like my life was fuller than the hourglass I've been given. While at work proofing a devotional that's to be printed tomorrow, I came across this:

Real servants make themselves available to serve. Servants don't fill up
their time with other pursuits that could limit their availability. They
want to be ready to jump into service when called on. (Read II Timothy
2:4)

and on the next day:

Are you available to God anytime? Can He mess up your plans without you
becoming resentful? As a servant, you don't get to pick and choose when or where
you will serve. Being a servant means giving up the right to control your
schedule and allowing God to interrupt whenever he needs to.....Servants see
interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the
opportunity to practice serving.

You know how you pluck your eyebrows, think you got everything, then at a stoplight glance in the rearview mirror and see several hairs jumping out at you screaming, Nah, nah! Sometimes I feel the Christian journey is very similar. You think you're plucking out the bad habits and attitudes, (or at least bleaching the ones you can't get to) only to find out there's some very prominent ones on display. Time fillers, servanthood, and the Master - I'm thankful He's a merciful one.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

today's blessings

When upon life's billows you are tempted and tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings money cannot buy:
Your reward in heaven and your home on high.

Count your blessings name them one by one.
Count your blessings see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings see what God has done.

  1. I was born in America.
  2. I have a wonderful husband.
  3. I have a roof over my head that doesn't leak.
  4. We can afford cleaning supplies.
  5. Indoor plumbing.
  6. Washing machines AND dryers! in my very own home!
  7. I have a large family.
  8. I like my church family.
  9. The land of plenty - mechanics, food, hardware stores, medicine, target, etc
  10. chocolate
  11. Dr. Pepper
  12. INTERNET!!!
  13. books
  14. a sewing machine
  15. quilting friends
  16. friends who like to eat out
  17. dogs who keep the geese out of the garage
  18. sunshine
  19. mailboxes
  20. instructional internet videos
  21. copy machines
  22. one more Sunday of take-down after church (Lord willing!)
  23. funny stories & the gift of laughter
  24. helpful sales clerks
  25. crockpots
  26. sunglasses
  27. hot water heaters
  28. restaurants
  29. fabric stores
  30. telephones
  31. sweet tea
  32. vegetables (specifically beans and broccoli!)
  33. our police who protect us
  34. 911 operators
  35. the comics

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

bullet points

  • My husband is right: I have no concept of time.
  • The geese have discovered they like cabbage. To be more specific, the cabbage out of my garden.
  • Last week's frost killed my tomato plants. I now have my bean row back.
  • After four days without internet, AT&T came out and replaced our modem. I now fill like I am back in the land of the living.
  • Today is my last day of vacation, and there are so many things I want/need to do that I will never ever fit them all in.
  • Such is life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

fear and trust; naivity and paranoia

My senior year of college I had a coworker from Latin America who was seriously seeking for answers to life. I called another friend attending a nearby university, and asked him if he could meet us at a nearby park one afternoon to talk. Both had last minutes obstacles and neither friend showed up, but my other college friend was upset that a) I didn't get his message and b) I went to a park (I couldn't invite my co-worker to the dorm) to meet a guy I only knew from work. I laughed at him for being paranoid, but some of his comments did get me to thinking.

Where do we draw the line between trusting in Christ to protect us and fearing the evil that surrounds us? When is it naive to trust people and paranoid to be suspicious of everyone around us?

A few years back I visited a ministry that had its office in a church in North Raleigh. To reach the ministry, I had to speak to a receptionist behind a glass window who made me sign/register before the elevator was opened to allow me to go up. That really bothered me. Had I been a teenager going to speak to a pastor, there's no way under earth's bright sun that I would have signed my name saying where I was going or why. I understand when we reach out to the homeless or those struggling with sin's depravity, we run the risk of facing the dangers of evil. I think we ought to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves". I also find it interesting that sometimes Christ sent the disciples out with absolutely nothing, and then later he told them to buy weapons. Different locations, different times, different people? We're not told.
Given the increasing amount of mass shootings, specifically those in churches, I do think we have to seriously consider what is wise and safe. Yet somehow the thought of the church hiding behind closed doors (whether they be locked, bullet proof, or id card protected) really disturbs me. I'm not sure what the correct answer is at this point, but somehow telling someone that God is big enough to save them and heal them while sitting behind locked church doors seems a little ironic.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

tarred and feathered

For those of you who haven't heard, a group of students UNC protested against a former Colorado Congressmen who had been invited to speak at the school until he was forced to flee for his safety.

Personally, I think the school officials should live up to one of their mascots, and apply the tar to the foul and offensive students and one faculty member who so disgraced their school and our country.

Freedom of speech is an American's constitutional right. The club who sponsored the speaker has a right to their viewpoint, whether or not others agree with it. He was not speaking at graduation, not addressing a classroom required for graduation, not even lecturing in a place where others would be forced against their will to hear it. Yet people who oppose the club and the speaker gathered, taunted him, held banners up over his face while he was speaking, and even through a brick through the window, shattering it into the classroom where he was speaking.

Why is it that "tolerance" is only tolerance when it supports one viewpoint? Why must politically explosive names such as "racist" be thrown at people who oppose illegal immigration?
Why call a person "fascist" simply because they believe in structure and organization?

Even IF those labels had applied in this case, these students had every right to picket peaceably outside, to sign a petition asking the club to revoke the invitation, to even sit in on the speech and hold signs of disagreement, but the anarchists tactics they displayed have no place in a university where our tax dollars help underwrite their tuition and in one case, a salary.

Sadly, North Carolina universities have displayed poor choices in examples of free speech this year, or I should say the abuse of free speech. There was a time when people were tarred and feathered for inappropriate behavior. While that would be an extreme reaction to such an incidence, these students and a teacher have certainly muddied the UNC footprint even more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

all things in moderation...or not

I enlarged my garden rows when tilling March. Having learned from last year, the rows are further apart, AND I added 1/2 a row. I was going to be sensible. Plant what we want, but in amounts small enough that I can handle. I still have a paying job, after all.

Last week we went to Hudson's to have the push lawn mower repaired. We came home with four biddies. Today we went to pick the lawn mower up, and while Bobby showed the repairman the way to the van, I stopped in to pick up a few tomato plants. I think that's where I went wrong. We only had a few minutes, and I never think or plan well in a hurry. I looked at the prices for small containers and the prices for a flat. The flat looked about right. So that's what I got.

When we got home, Bobby happened to ask how many plants I bought. He was quite shocked when I told him I bought a whole flat. "You bought 48 plants?" WEELLLlllll, no not intentionally. Turns out I overlooked the little detail that each small container has FOUR tomato plants. So one of my bean rows is now tomatoes.

And this puts me in a minor quandary. I already have seed for my beans. I actually have pea seed left over from last year. So do I be conservative and rational and move up the yard a ways and plant 4 more rows for the beans/peas, or do I throw my hands up in the air and say I've already messed things up for this year and will have more than I care to handle and maybe I'll be better organized next year?

Tomato recipes, anyone?

square circles

Well, I sort of/kind of finished my first quilt "square" on A&A's quilt, and let's just say the circumference of the ring is bulging a bit. I called my mother-in-law, and she came over and looked at it, made a few suggestions, then whispered, I'd just do another one and see if it has the same problems. But I am going to take her dreaded advice, removed a rung of the circle and resew it. Hopefully that will fix some of the bulge.
Meanwhile, I've had this quilt idea in my head for so long that it's hard to let the dream die. I would really like to have it ready for June, but reality is that it's just not going to happen. Unless I quit my job and do nothing but quilt all day, and somehow I don't see that happening.
A part of me thinks if I get the quilt top completed and marked, then I can find someone who machine quilts and hire them to do it. But I'm not sure that would be quite as much "fun".
And if all goes well, I might actually be able to post pictures of completed projects this week. Haha...not the quilt top, but some outstanding others. Upward and onward!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

silly birds

This year was to be the year the geese nested on their own. No incubator, no brooder box, no herding goslings in and out of the dog pen, no picking up gosling parts from the yard and burying them. Dottie and I put up a pen, and while I don't have the doors up yet, I do have the parts for it as well as the hooks for securing the bottom. Meanwhile, half the geese refuse to enter voluntarily. (They'll go in for the food, but that's it.)

Yesterday morning we realized one of the geese was nesting in the duck house, and the dogs were harassing her. So we discussed options, I gathered up boards, a hammer, and nails, and we blocked all the paths to the house except the ones the geese use from the water. Since then the mother goose has not returned to her two eggs. I told Bobby she's got two more days, and if she doesn't return to the nest by then I'll collect them and pull out the incubator.

Chirpie nested against the house again, and of course the dogs had her egg by morning.

After all this effort to help them hatch their own, you'd think they'd at least cooperate. Silly birds.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

ants in my pants

My aunt Mattie (my great-great- aunt to be exact) lived with us off and on growing up. Even as a child, I thought she was tiny (think of a short Jessie Martinez). She was the "baby" in her family, and was the next to the last of that generation of Johnsons. Whenever I squirmed a little too much for her, she would ask me if I had ants in my pants.
Why is it easier for some people to sit still than others? After I had the flu during high school, I could always tell when we'd passed the thirty minute segment in class without looking at my watch. My hip joints would begin to hurt and squirming in my seat would alleviate some of the tension until that bell rang and I could stand up. If things went well my joints popped immediately and I could move normally. If my joints didn't pop right away, I'd stand and wiggle and pretend to rearrange my books or look for a paper until I could move properly. Then I moved off to FWBBC where we were required to wear skirts and hose. Sitting in an uncomfortable desk in a ladylike way is not compatible with squirmy girls and achy joints. That's one of the things I love about dress pants; I can sit comfortably.
And I ponder these crazy things during church, of all places.
It never fails. At a certain point my "ants in my pants" kick in, and I start squirming to alleviate or eliminate certain kinks or pains. It seems as if the people all around me are sitting so still and attentive, and then there's me. I've seriously considered moving to the back so I could stand up and stretch when I need to, but after trying unsuccessfully for 8 years to get Bobby in the front I'm not sure I want to undo what progress we've made.
So if you ever see me squirming consistently during the sermon, I'm not agitated or upset. I just have ants in my pants.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

the Easter biddies

Bobby says I'm crazy.
We now have Easter peeps.
Two Rhode Island Reds, one week old.
Two White Plymouth Rocks, two weeks old.
And I have 6 weeks to build a pen.

the death of common sense, part one

Nothing like a bill in our state legislature to make one realize that our society has killed common sense.
The bully bill addresses the problem of bullying in our public schools. The very fact that there is such a bill indicates part of the problem. Since the authority of being a teacher or principal is no longer enough, having a school handbook is not sufficient, we now resort to state law to make our children "behave."
But here's my beef with such bills: they destroy equality. When a middle school girl follows a classmate she doesn't like into the bathroom, sticks her cell phone under the stall door and snaps photos, then sends them to the entire school, that's bullying. But wait...under the bully bill, it's not as severe because the girls share the same gender, the same religion, the same race, etc. Now, if the girl in the stall happens to be a different race, then the photographer gets a worse punishment because of the bully bill. And that makes no sense whatsoever. Do you think the humiliated eleven year old cares what the reasoning behind the meanness is? Does the reasoning behind why someone is mean to another person really matter? If someone walks up and punches me in the face because I have freckles, I'm going to think they're a mean person. If someone walks up and punches me in the face because I'm a Christian, I'm going to think they're a mean person. If someone walks up and punches me in the face because they don't like me and they think they can get away with it, I'm STILL going to think they're a mean person. What happened to the Biblical concept that we treat others the way we would want to be treated? I think bullying is bullying, and the "reasoning" behind it is nothing else than a justification or excuse. Creating protected classes of people destroys equality.
Any middle school group of kids sitting in opening assembly and hearing someone read a rule "...blah, blah, blah against people of different religions, sexual orientation, gender, race...blah, blah, blah..." draws attention to the fact that the kids are different. As if the kids don't know that already. Is pointing a specific group of kids out in front of anyone going to make them any less of a target? If anything, it seems to make them MORE of a target.
So why can't we just say bullying is wrong and get on with it?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

i am a spleen

Several of my facebook friends enjoy taking all these quizzes and personality tests, such as "What's your ministry?" I'm really not sure how my favorite foods have anything to do with my ministry, but other questions, such as "what inspires you" had many answer choices I could have easily picked. I found the timing of this quiz interesting as we are now going through lessons on spiritual gifts at church, and I honestly have no idea what my spiritual gift is. So I took the quiz and the answer was: Ground's Keeper and Fence Mender. Bobby found this very funny when I told him.
Growing up I always heard the verse "to whom much is given, much shall be required" quoted, and I came to dread it. To me it meant the more you developed your talents or areas of expertise, the more work you had to do. And I think that's where the difference of a talent and a true spiritual gift comes out. I don't think (and I may be woefully wrong on this) that a spiritual gift is something you dread using or doing.
So until I figure it out, I guess my role in the body is the spleen (like the Ground's Keeper and Fence Mender). I keep the body functioning but would prefer not to deal with people to do it. Meanwhile, I have a house to clean and organize for my favorite little people on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

a dead dream

This morning after we woke up, we were shocked to hear on the news that the Garner Emergency crew fought a fire at 3am on Bryan and Clifford Rd. When they said the house was apparently abandoned we knew immediately which house: the Stancil place, the first home Bobby's parents had and where they lived until he was four years old. It was part of the farm that was purchased by the Wake County Board of Education a few years ago. While the house was still standing, its insides had been gutted and the surrounding yard had become a dump for people too classless to drive 25 minutes to the landfill. I guess deep down I still hoped the County BOE would decide not bulldoze the place and we could acquire the house after the road was rerouted and it wouldn't be near the school. I've wanted to refinish that place ever since I saw it. And now it's too late. the front porch