love is friendship caught fire

Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.

~ by Laura Hendricks

failing

these are the things i am currently failing at: finding a job, keeping up with my laundry, emailing the people who i need to email, posting to my blog at least once a week… yada yada yada. the list can go on and on and on… but, i’ll keep some of my pride and stop while i am ahead.

i used to think i was really good at failing. i’ve earned my fair share of “f’s” on my report cards (ok, so i have dyslexia and didn’t find out until i was 23), burned the occasional pot of rice (rice is tricky to cook ya’ know), been in a car accident… or two… or three, gotten a speeding ticket (only one of those… promise!), and the list can really go on and on, but i will spare you the drudgery of it all.

tonight a friend of mine and i were talking about our lives… we were kind of comparing them, who’s life was more difficult and the such. (it was a draw… were both unemployed) i made the comment to her that i know that God has great things ahead for me, and she immediately affirmed that for me. the thing about that statement is… up until a month and a half ago, i didn’t really believe that statement. i didn’t believe it because i knew of all the things that i had failed at, and it didn’t make sense to me that God would take such a failure and use to do great things.

at this point in my life, i can truly say that i feel God’s love like i have never before. i have the confidence to go out into the world and make a great imprint on it for the Kingdom. i feel comforted by God’s love every morning i wake up, throughout the day and every night when i fall asleep.

i am fully aware of the things i have failed at, as well as the potential things i could possibly fail at. but, when God uses all things for His glory… i can step forward with the confidence that He will do great things… in spite of me!

gambling

yep, i’m a sinner.

now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about gambling. this past weekend i took a friend to one of the indian casinos in the area. i had never been to this one, so it was a nice little adventure.

once we arrived on the casino floor, we did our first lap to check out the space. by no means are we high rollers (and by “we” i really mean her… because i am broke… and that ain’t no joke…), so we scoped out the penny slots. as we were making our obligatory lap, we came across the non-smoking section. this was the asthmatics gambling paradise. the ability to breath fully without inhaling gross cigarette smoke, and choking up a lung, lets one think more clearly, thus making more wise gambling decisions.

i was playing it all… all $4 that is. (a donation by my friend… she felt guilty that i wasn’t sitting next to her having the same adrenaline rush as she did while pushing the pretty buttons) here’s my play-by-play: $2 into the machine… $1 lost, insert another $1… won $2… total now $4… cash out…. move to another machine, this one had a surf theme… realized that i’d upped the ante, it’s a two cent machine (i know… i live life to the fullest)… i could now win bigger, or loose faster… which is what i did. you know, $4 in a two cent slot machine goes kinda fast… just sayin’. well, as a fellow native american, i did my duty and supported a local tribe.

in the end we both lost… me $4… her $25. but that’s the chance you take. i am often amazed at how many people are there, and this being a holiday weekend, the place was packed. the slot machines, tables, the high roller rooms… they were all packed with people, not to mention the line for the buffet. (we already ate, so just did a walk by… but, isn’t that what people really want at the casino… a good buffet? i digress…) there were just a ton of people there.

at one point i began to imagine what it would be like if all these people went to church like this, or even what it would take to get people to church in masses like this. sure there are some of us who have the hankering to worship, but there are a ton of people who warm a pew on sunday morning because it’s the right thing to do… or it’s just what you do.

i recently began a small group study about spiritual disciplines. the author of the book we are reading talks about worship as an act of gratitude for what God has done for us, as opposed to an act of obligation. i know that i can’t honestly say that every sunday i am in church with a heart full of gratitude. and i will even go as far to say that i had more excitement walking into the casino, than i do on some sundays when i walk into church.

i want my heart to be full of gratitude and have the anticipation of excitement every time i walk into church. i want to be aware of the sacrifice that God made for me, that he sees the worth in me and choose to do what he did. i want to be excited to see and experience the spirit move during worship. i want to be excited for the words that God will revel to me during the act of corporate worship.

i want a lot. but is it really too much to ask of myself to raise my level of excitement to the place i was at when i walked into the casino? no… no it’s not.

the daily special

contrary to popular belief, I am not a big drinker. a bottle of beer has the ability to remain in fridge for several months before i even remember that it’s in there. and there are several good reasons that i do not regularly partake in libations… first, i’ve been blessed with alcoholism swimming around in my family gene pool, on both the deep and shallow ends. (i’ll let you determine which side is the shallow and which is the deep) second, alcohol is darn stinkin’ expensive… at least the good stuff. and is there really any purpose in drinking anything but the good stuff?

and finally… drunk people are only funny for so long. there really does come a point when it’s best to show them the door, or you leave yourself, before they puke on your shoes.

so now i find myself at an interesting point in my life… i’ve come to affectionately call it my semi-mid-life-maybe-not-really-crisis. within those set parameters i feel that i am able to do things that might seem… oh, out of character. or even something out of the ordinary. and so i did… i went to bar tending school.

mixology is a fine art… mixing your vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey is not for the faint of heart. in fact, it had been a long time since i had something so rigorous to study for. mastering the art of the one ounce blind pour sent some fellow class mates over the edge. and we aren’t even going to mention the nervousness that surrounded the pour test for some fellow students.

now, i can make a mean Singapore Sling or a Bahama Mama… not to mention a Brain Hemorrhage or a Cement Mixer. (there are just some concoctions of alcohol that i can’t imagine why people would drink them… ) the art of the muddle and shake is just as important as the booze you pour. from your inexpensive well drinks to your top shelf, the difference between average vodka and good vodka is tremendous… in taste and in the pocket book.

so, am i really going to get a job working at a bar? am i going to be pouring libations at clubs in midtown on friday and saturday nights? i am going to twist off caps off of longneck bud when the average joe bellies up to the bar for his daily drink? and, what does this mean for me as a christian… a christian who has a call to vocational ministry nonetheless?

i seriously doubt you’ll find me at the neighborhood bar restocking the bud light or pouring some type of sweet fruity tini at the hottest downtown night spot. maybe i’ll end up at some chain restaurant pouring from their drink menu, or even be the friend who can be the great bar tender at parties.

mostly what i’ll do now is pray. seek God for what he has next for me… for the calling he has given me. he’s cultivated passions and skills and talents in me that will all collide in a moment for his kingdom, and it’s my job to be ready and alert when that happens. the bar tending thing just happens to be the now thing… and has also given me the ability to pour a really good drink for my friends.

prespective

i always find it funny when my circumstances change and i start viewing things in much different ways. in someways, this recent change was an answer to prayer. i do, vaguely, remember asking God to take away some of my materialistic attitudes and replace them with a more purposeful focus on important things… like what breaks His heart.

so here i am now, about to push the start button on the next chapter in this journey. not sure what will come of it, but so far it’s been an eye opening one!

getting out of the boat

the other day a friend of mine was telling me that she wanted to experience the grand canyon skywalk. basically it’s a glass bottomed u-shaped bridge that’s about 4,000 feet about the canyon floor. i have absolutely no desire to go anywhere near it because i have a paralyzing fear of heights.

when i was a kid, i was prettified of jumping off the edge of a pool. i can climb a latter just fine, but coming down is a completely different story. i even missed a chance to go spelunking several years back because we had to climb down a latter into a dark pit of what seemed to be nothingness. basically, my fear of plummeting to my death paralyzes me to the point of non-existent exploration.

recently i have made the observation in my life that i also do the same thing in my everyday-ordinary-life. when i experience some type of set back, i tend to avoid something out of fear. not only do i have a tendency to avoid, but i also become paralyzed with that fear.

growing up my family had a membership to the local community pool. one sunny, summer day i was there with my friends and they double-dogged-dared me to jump off the high dive. know, normally i would tuck my tail between my legs and go home, but this was where i spent the majority of my summer and i wasn’t about to let this dare go by the wayside. so i began my assent to the top of the spring board. with each ladder rung, i knew i was in deep trouble. not only was there a line beginning to form behind of kids wanting to jump of the hi dive, but there was a group gathered on the side of the pool by the life guard stand waiting to see my belly-flop extravaganza.

but once up there, i froze. i couldn’t move. there i was at the top and i couldn’t move a muscle. i couldn’t bring myself to jump. so, i did the next scariest thing… i climbed down the ladder. no matter what, i envisioned myself landing smack on the cement, breaking my leg or arm or cracking my head open and all my brains oozing out. (ok, the later is a bit extreme… but you get the idea.)

i lost focus. i relied on myself to carry me through my fears, and i just couldn’t do it. kind of like when Jesus calls out to Peter, and Peter sinks because he allows great fear to take over him, instead of fully relying of Jesus. instead of his faith fully relying on Jesus, fear crept in and created an attitude of doubt within him.

there is so much i want in my life and for my life. yet, i doubt. i used to tell myself that it was myself whom i doubted, but the reality and truth is that it is really Jesus whom i doubted. i’ve learned that in order for me to rid my life of doubt, i need to take that first step out of the boat all the while maintaining my focus on Jesus. and not in certain areas of my life, but my complete life.

what part of your life does doubt exist?

point reyes

i believe this to be my all time favorite place… on all the earth. people love the mountains… well, i am all about the beach and the ocean and everything else that goes with it!

zipping our way through the valley on highway 37. it was almost as though our trip was preordained… no fog… no traffic… and lovely people!

we not only explored the beaches, but the cheese too! our first stop was at marin french cheese. we dove right into sampling the offerings… and they were great! we hopped back in the car and made out way to point reyes station. once there we hit the cowgirl creamery. they are an organic, artisan cheese making operation in the heart of point reyes station. (well, truth be told the town is only a couple of blocks… so really it’s all heart!) they were in the middle of washing the rinds of their red hawk, a triple-cream cows milk cheese. above are the lovely ladies in action… washing the rind.

we left the creamery and headed downtown to fetch some lunch. (this really meant we walked around the block) out of pure fascination, and having never been into a real general store, we popped into the point reyes general store. there was everything a person, or horse, needed. continuing our tour, we headed down to toby’s but was pleasantly distract by the yarn bomb that i spotted on the railing.

enough oooo-ing and aawww-ing over the yarn bomb spotting, we finally headed over to toby’s and were greeting with the fantastic display of organic fruit.

after retrieving lunch, we finally made out way to the beach. it was a treat to act as a tour guide for my friend heather on the way out. once we began making our decent into the drakes bay area, i knew i was were i supposed to be.

this time of year is a busy one at point reyes… people flock to see the migrating gray whales and the nesting elephant seals. the national park service closes off the road at south beach and operates a shuttle between the light house (where, after descending steps equivalent of a 30 story building, you can have the best view on land of the migrating whales), chimney rock (where there is best area for viewing the elephant seals) and drakes bay (where there were 2 elephant seals on the beach, therefore we had to stay 300 yards away from them). we caught the sunset while on the shuttle back to the car and headed over to north beach and took in the beauty of where was in front of us.

all in all, it was a great day! oh, yeah… we ended it at the station house cafe, located in downtown point reyes station. we feasted on hot popovers and bbq-ed oysters. a great ending to a great day!

post a week… it’s all we ask

extra bonus points for anyone who remembers where that came from! (or at least the idea of where is came from… the original commercial was asking for a can a week)

yes, i am dedicating to post at least once a week for the year 2011. i know, i miserable failed at my daily post project this past fall. but, hey i tried… well, the truth is that i was so overwhelmed with crap in life, the blog was the last thing i wanted to do. also, there was so much carp that i needed to dump, and this space wasn’t as safe as i needed it to be in order to dump it all here. consider yourself lucky! but i digress…

so, to sum this all up… i’ll be posting at least once a week during the 2011 year!

waiting

A waiting person is a patient person. The word “patience” means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing in her womb.

~ Henri Nouwen, Eternal Seasons, p. 38

advent

growing up, i was a pretty sly kid. i began questioning the methods of santa when my parents installed a wood stove in the fireplace. i knew santa was magic and all, but he was a little big to get through that little door on the front of the stove. a couple of years later, i discovered the true identity of the jolly old fellow when i insisted on writing him a letter Christmas eve night and then compared the hand writing sample of his with … my moms. yep, the gig was up. but i didn’t let on. i carried it on for another two years, until one day i let it slip out that i knew who really was eating the cookies and drinking the milk that was left by the fireplace on Christmas eve (my dad was always insistent that we left oreo’s for santa, his favorite cookies, and my mom ate the carrots that we left for the reindeer … because they need snacks too!). it was suddenly declared that i would not be having the same only child-spoiled Christmas that i was used to.

my mom was quite upset with me for a while. she tried to declare that Christmas wouldn’t be celebrated in our house that year, which translated to no gifts under the tree. but, while i was on a little reconnaissance mission, (a.k.a checking all of my mom’s regular hiding places for my christmas gifts while she was at work. hey, i was a crafty latch key kid … what can i say?) i discovered the set of Sweet Valley Twins books that i had been wanting along with a package marked to mom, from mom. i guess her disgruntled protest included shopping and gifting to herself, because she couldn’t have santa leave her anything under the tree anymore.

that Christmas i found a ton of stuff under the tree, half of which i don’t remember what it was. i do remember that i did get my first stereo/boom box. an electronic device that i could blast my tapes on. (yep … i am that old!) debbie gibson, madonna, new kids on the block… their sounds would be wafting through the air of the house in no time. i also remember, as with every Christmas before that and a couple after, the fun and joy i had with my parents. it was the three of us every Christmas morning, and it seemed perfect to me. little did i know that we were missing an important part of the celebration.

i never knew growing up what Christmas was really about. i always thought it was about giving gifts, getting gifts, spending time with family, Christmas dinner with my grandparents, homemade tamales at my aunt’s house and everything else that made Christmas Christmas. there was some much preparation that went into it all. from getting our tree to decorating it to my mom making fudge to shopping to all the other stuff we had to do.

but we didn’t go to church. my family didn’t do that. after my parents divorce and getting into this church thing, i discovered that there were other things that had to be added to my Christmas to do list. things like going to church … going to every church activity to be exact. making cookies and candies for all my friends at church was added to the list too. oh, and i can’t forget the actual going to church part of it all. there was always just so much to do.

it’s taken me several years to figure this out, but none of the busyness is what this season is about. i know, shocking right?!? but it’s true … busyness is not the reason for the season. nor is making others happy. nor is having the perfect tree or making the perfect cookies & candies or attending every possible Christmas event on the calendar. shocking, i know.

right now, this very day, we are in the midst of advent. advent is about what’s to come. it’s about preparation. it’s about anticipation. it’s about waiting. all of which is similar to what we do in the days leading to Christmas. but instead of preparing and anticipating and waiting for the birth of Christ, we do all that for some many other things remove our focus from what we are truly preparing, anticipating and waiting for.

maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my singleness or maybe it’s the fact that i tire easily in the Christmas hustle & bustle these days; but my focus is less on what i am putting under the tree and more to what i am pouring my heart into during advent.

i’m patiently waiting, dutifully preparing and eagerly anticipating the birth of Jesus.