Friday, September 16
Sometimes there are no answers.........
Maybe I should re-phrase that to read "Sometimes there are no GOOD answers".

The first version, although expressed countless times by countless people, is part of an away message of mine on AIM. My favorite daughter's favorite book-du-jour is Eldest, a fantasy tale written by wise-beyond-his-years sophomore author, Christopher Paolini (wrote his first novel in the series, Eragon at only 15). Rachel--btw, my ONLY daughter ;)--downloaded a screensaver that scrolled through a series of quotations by different characters in the book. The quotes were intriguing and inspirational, and yes, Eldest has been added to the mile-high stack of books I'm "getting to" soon...well, more accurately, eventually....

Saphira is the character to whom this particular quote is attributed, and I thought "That dragon is pretty smart for a dragon." So, along with some other quotes I liked, I posted it as an "away".

For those of us who chat, we often reply to each other's away or profile messages, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. I got an indirect "dis" from a friend and it flew all over me (I'm smilin' here). Quoting from another unnamed person, she wrote "It's not that there are NO answers, it's that there are so many answers." She went on to add that she'd hate to live in a world that had no answers...somethin' to that effect...blah, blah, blah. Obviously, the comment got under my skin, exactly how, I couldn't put my finger on.

But then an example of "no answers" hit me square in the face, and at least for me, it explained the sub-dermal irritation I was feeling.

Someone very dear to me is struggling in marriage right now. Short of a miracle, it's not gonna make it. Bottom line, her husband wants out and there's not much she can do to stop him. She and I have talked for hours, and it breaks my heart when she asks "Why is it so hard for him to love me?" "How can he do this to me, our children?" What are the answers to those questions? No good ones I can think of. When I hear the pain in her voice, my inward, defensive response becomes visceral--I'd love to beat the ever-lovin' crap out of him (If I thought it would help, I'd try). But she loves him and that response isn't exactly productive, let alone Godly. So I listened and encouraged and tried not to resort to "Jesus speak" too much...but I was still grasping at the "right things" to say or do. I felt like there was some answer that was eluding me........

So, I called a pastor friend who I was certain would impart some great wisdom, the "right" things to say when a wife is facing--but fighting--imminent divorce. Frustratingly, however, I couldn't have been more disappointed; he offered little in the way of "right words to say". I'm not sure if his lack of advice was due to confidentiality (he counseled this couple) or because he's seen failing marriages a thousand times before and he didn't anticipate this one making it....whatever the reason, I was still left feeling there were no answers I could offer this precious friend. BUT, still feeling an answer, although ever elusive, was out there.

And then, BAM! I got an answer, a reminder of something simple, something I already knew but forgot, maybe because of its simplicity. Not "many" answers, just THE answer...the right answer, that until this point had eluded my grasp. And it came through another Casting Crowns song (no wonder I'm loving the CD, maybe it IS revolutionary ;) ). Imagine my delight when, on the day I bought this CD...the very day I had gotten no stinkin' answers from my pastor friend, a few days following the "many answers" comment from my IM buddy...that I began to hear the words of a song I had never heard before, and received a well-timed answer from the God who STILL speaks, giving me just what I needed and beautifully so. When you read the lyrics, you'll see why I was blown away--

The love of her life is drifting away / They’re losing the fight for another day
The life that she's known is falling apart / A fatherless home, a child’s broken heart
You're holding her hand / You're straining for words / You're trying to make sense of it all /
She's desperate for hope / Darkness clouding her view / She's looking to you

Just love her like Jesus / Carry her to Him / His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers / To all of life's questions

Just know that He loves her and stay by her side
Love her like Jesus / Love her like Jesus

I am so thankful for this God who loves me enough to speak to ME, sometimes rather loudly, and sometimes in a still, small voice. As I often tell my children (and obviously need to be reminded myself), "God gives us two ears and one mouth so we'll listen twice as much as we speak!"

  Into the pensieve on Friday, September 16, 2005
  Your thoughts, please (7)

Who's YOUR Katrina?
Or maybe it's "What's" your Katrina? They're all around us, case in point:

The morning Katrina was having her way with Louisiana and Mississippi, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, watching the play-by-play coverage of a natural disaster running her course.

A sidebar worth noting is our fascination and voyueristic need to watch a trainwreck in slow motion. It's sport to us. We have commentators (reporters) on the sidelines, bringing us the "action", and we can't wait to get to the end of the game to see the spoils...but in the trainwrecks of life, there are no victors. I cringe at the thought of the barbaric fight of a gladiator (Russell Crowe's Maximus Decimus Meridius "unleashing hell" comes to mind) and I wonder how a people could be so captivated by bloodlust until I realize I am guilty of much the same. Think about the last time you saw a car accident and rubbernecked a.k.a. Linda Blair to assess the damage...or as recently as Katrina...the Southeastern Asian (and beyond) Christmas 2004 Tsunami, 9-11....we sit transfixed to 24-hour news channels as macabre details unfold.

Ugh....but I digress and become much the drama queen in the process, so I'll move on :)

What brought me to the hospital? Good question. I am convinced it was a divine appointment, nothing short of a God thang, a surreal experience that left me completely humbled, and at the time, speechless and awed.

I was there to visit Teresa, a woman I had never met and who didn't even know I existed...I had the advantage. Our daughters happen to be friends and through personal circumstance, I learned about her family's "situation". They could be the poster family for "down on your luck". Her husband has been unable to work for some time now; she was the primary breadwinner, but in the past year she has had health issue after health issue after health issue. Debilitating illness, uncertain future. She's extremely overweight yet her body is malnourished because of disease. She has a feeding tube because her stomach is paralyzed and an IV port due to the incredible amount of medicine she requires. They lost their home, car, looks like a bankruptcy is in their future, she's received sub-standard medical care (I can't help but wonder if they're being discriminated against). She endured a physically abusive childhood only to marry a physically abusive man (first marriage, long over, thankfully a loving second marriage). Currently, when she's not in the hospital, they're living in an extended stay motel--she, her husband, middle school daughter and college-age son. It ain't the Ritz Carlton. Oh, and her oldest son steals from all of them when he comes around and he's messed up either using or selling drugs. Are you getting a picture?

And yet...AND YET...this woman was BEAUTIFUL! Not once did she utter anything negative; she did answer my questions, she did tell an ugly truth, but she was PRECIOUS. In just a few hours we bonded in a way I have never before experienced. I told her I was there because I loved Jesus and after learning a little bit about their circumstances, I couldn't NOT come... because we wanted to be His hands and feet in anyway we could (Tad had learned about their need before I had, which was the impetus for my going to visit). We laughed and we cried and we prayed ... and a few hours passed in moments.

I didn't pity her although I felt deeply for her circumstances...they're awful....but I found myself very humbled and painfully aware of my "riches", materially and otherwise. She accepted the ways we were able to meet some of their needs in a way that truly challenged me. As I sit here and write, I can't even articulate her acceptance....there was this silent understanding that "we're all in this together...and what's mine is yours". I know that's extreme, I wish I was that generous, but that tone was certainly present.

I barely remember the walk from her room to my car...the tears came again. I think they were some kind of emotional release for the utter joy of being Christ to someone who needed Him. It was surreal and amazing. And it makes me hungry for more of Him.

And as the week unfolded and I saw the destruction from Katrina, I was struck with the thought that Teresa WAS a Katrina to me. I may not be in a position to reach the hundreds of thousands devastated by that disaster....but if I slow down...listen to the people around me...I can touch the lives of one...or two...or three, who are experiencing their own tragedies. Not world hunger. Not the masses. But making a difference.

  Into the pensieve on Friday, September 16, 2005
  Your thoughts, please (4)

Monday, September 12
Are We Happy Plastic People?

I've been a fan of Mark Hall & the rest of the Casting Crowns gang since their first release, and I have to say I like their recent release, Lifesong, even more. Nothing revolutionary here; their music has a familiar quality to it, I guess the "easy listening" of contemporary Christian. Likeable, singable, relateable... Real stuff about real life.
Mark is a youth pastor, and although Casting Crowns has a touring schedule, they're home every week to lead their youth group...those kids are their first priority (that's the kind of thing that impresses me, not numbers). From what I can tell it seems success in the music industry was by accident, not by intent. Maybe they got hooked on the Jabez phenomenom and prayed to enlarge their territory, I dunno. In concert they look like they're having a blast...playing like kids although most of the band members are pretty "grown up".
I guess the reason Lifesong reeled me in was several of the songs spoke to where I am in situations or circumstances close to conversations I've had recently. Stained Glass Masquerade is one of 'em...I absolutely love these lyrics:
Is there anyone that fails / Is there anyone that falls /
Am I the only one in church today, feelin’ so small?
‘Cause when I take a look around / Everybody seems so strong /
I know they'll soon discover / That I don't belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay /
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too /
So with a painted grin, I play the part again /
So everyone will see me the way that I see them
Are we happy plastic people / Under shiny plastic steeples /
With walls around our weakness /
And smiles to hide our pain / But if the invitation’s open /
To every heart that has been broken /
Maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade
Is there anyone who's been there / Are there any hands to raise /
Am I the only one who's traded / In the altar for a stage?
The performance is convincing / And we know every line by heart /
Only when no one is watching / Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free / If I dared to let you see /
The truth behind the person / You imagine me to be /
Would your eyes be opened / Or would you walk away /
Would the love of Jesus / Be enough to make you stay?
"Transparency"...some people don't get it and I think these lyrics explain it (or the opposite) rather well. One of my friends doesn't like the word. She said her first thought is flimsy, not substantial, not a whole lot to 'em, when she thinks of transparency relative to people. I've heard others equate it simply to "publicly bearing your soul". I don't see it either way.
Jesus tells us over and over that we're supposed to be like Him. The good thing is He doesn't expect us to be like Him and then refuse to let us know Him. He lets us in...He invites us in...He loves us into His life. Through His own Word and words He reveals His struggles, temptations, grief, prayers, anger, knowledge, joy, humility, power, empathy...He's one of us (yet hardly one of us). By becoming fully man, He modeled life as He intends for us to live it...but for some reason, we often only want to show our strength. He must be amused by our best efforts at flexing a little muscle; I'm thinking here of when my sons would hold up their skinny little boy arms and say with a proud and semi-toothless grin, "Hey, mom, look at my muscle...feel it!" and I'd comply by squeezing that little bicep-in-the-making, and grin inwardly at what they thought they had to show. Are we any different?
I've seen God move powerfully in my own life and relationships when I'm willing to reveal my inadequacies...struggles...sinfulness...pain, and share how God has worked in those times. Truth evokes a response from people no matter how it's packaged. I'm not talkin' Jerry Springer tell-alls, but you already know that. I'm talking investing in lives by sharing your own--not by presenting a perfect facade, but by letting others in, inviting them in, loving them in to your imperfect world...your real world. We all have our own versions of a "stained glass masquerade". Personally, I'd love for mine to be shattered....a much-more beautiful work of art just might emerge.

  Into the pensieve on Monday, September 12, 2005
  Your thoughts, please (4)

Saturday, September 10
The joke's on us.......
Raise your hand if you were thankful and relieved to see gas down to $2.86 again (heard it was $2.6something in Georgia from a friend who makes that daily commute from 'nooga).

They're laughing all the way to the bank.

  Into the pensieve on Saturday, September 10, 2005
  Your thoughts, please (4)

We Live in a Multiple Choice World....
...and is that really such a good thing? I'm not talking simple multiple choice--A, B, C, D. I'm talking multiple choice that not only exhausts the entire English alphabet, but also goes into triple digits.

I've been thinking about creating a forum for my rants (aka a "blog") since reading an article in July. I thought "Why not............?" Help contribute to the 30,000 blogs created my part in making sure the Blogosphere doubled in size every five months. Then, a twenty-something friend sent me a link to her blog so I looked into it a little further.

I have to admit, it was overwhelming. The more I learned, the more I realized there WAS to learn (I guess this is the case with anything new). I felt VERY blog-impaired. Technically challenged. Dozens of sites through which you can set up your blog, and once you narrow down that choice, you've only just begun! A name for your site...the URL for its location (I have no idea what that stands for), oh, yeah, and you have to be ultra creative because there are a gazillion bloggers already out there with all the names you thought were so clever (which makes you feel rather ordinary and unoriginal since someone nabbed it before you). Design, formatting, archiving, control...decision after decision to make. But, I dug my heels in because I had a quiet block of time and decided it was now or never.

You might wonder why I bothered to create a blog if it was such a hassle for me. Legitimate question. But once I started thinking about it, I began blogging mentally (can anyone say "journal"?) and it was just a matter of time. I love the idea of thinking in community (VERY different from "group think"(which I despise))... having friends join you in a conversation you might not be able to have face to face...listening to those who don't necessarily agree with me but have an intelligent difference of opinion. This is a cool vehicle to accomplish all that.

Oh, yeah, back to my "Multiple Choice" rant. Lately, I have been questioning the positive side of choice in our country. We are a country INUNDATED with choices! Maybe this line of thought began with my blog venture. But I thought about it again when buying toothpaste the other day (gel or paste? If I don't choose whitening, will my teeth not get clean? Will my breath be rancid if I don't choose the one with mouthwash?). And toilet paper (ripples or quilting? single- double- or triple-ply? Don't these people know all that matters is that it does its job?) Wanna paint a room a neutral color? Go to Home Depot and count the number of colors for "white" or "off-white" or "beige". In the market for a digital camera? You'll have to decide mega-pixels and zoom and size and function--forget the simple days of color vs. black & white and 35MM vs. instamatic. My mind is reeling with all the examples that are flooding it right now.

Certainly, a compelling argument can be made for why having many choices is a good thing. Only a person who HAS so many choices could have the luxury of decrying that very freedom. I've never walked in the shoes of those who live in a communist or dictatorial country where people are restricted or limited or have no choice at all...about anything. I AM thankful to live in America, where imagination and inspiration lend themselves to innovation and invention (ultimately producing all the kinds of choices I'm talking about).

Maybe it's pure laziness, but I like the simplicity of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry (chocolate alone is sufficient ;) ). Small, medium or large. Hmmmm....I think God knows this...its inherent in His Being. Although He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He is One. I cannot imagine practicing a polytheistic faith that worships many, in some cases hundreds, of gods. He keeps it we don't overload and have to decide which "one" to serve today.

Okay...I'm done...gotta go decide what to wear today (long sleeve, short sleeve, or sans sleeve)...grab a cup of coffee (black, 2% milk, or half & half, Splenda or sugar) ...fix my hair (air dry, blow dry or roll it)...

I'm giggling. Nice to end with a giggle. Ciao til later.

  Into the pensieve on Saturday, September 10, 2005
  Your thoughts, please (7)

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Married to my college sweet-heart :)...three GREAT kids I'm not selling to the circus today...I LOVE to laugh (& smile often) to read & cook, hate to shop (unless the store is very small and doesn't leave me dazed and confused). I'm scared of flying so although I'd like to travel more, I don't.

I've been pleasantly surprised to find life in my 40s to be an amazing time of transformation & discovery--of self, others, creation and the Creator.

Here's a partial explanation for my Blog title. I think it'd be cool if they really existed.

A Pensieve is a stone basin.... [One] can extract his or her own memories and place them in the Pensieve, especially to relieve the mind when it becomes too flooded with information. Anyone can examine the memories in the Pensieve, which also allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the memories stored within...

A Pensieve first appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...

For the complete explanation, see
my 2/17/06 post.

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