Archive for January, 2013

31
Jan

Wanted: Temple Carpenters

Hard hat

 

Today the Bible fell open to 2 Chronicles 7. Here are a few verses that jumped out at me today: “Solomon completed building The Temple of God and the royal palace…the projects he had set his heart on doing. Everything was done–success! Satisfaction….God appeared to Solomon that very night and said,…”I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship….I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from Heaven…From now on, I’m alert day and night to the prayers offered at this place. Believe me, I’ve chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always.” (The Message)

Somewhere I recall reading that after Jesus died for us, our earthly bodies became temples for God, because if we accept this fact, then God lives in us. So now apply that to what I just wrote down above. He has chosen our bodies for sacrifice and worship and when we are seeking God in our bodies, He is with us, ready to listen…He’s alert all the time to our prayers. He has stamped His name on us forever and He is ever watching us and over us and His heart is in us always.

WAY cool. This does not mean that we shouldn’t go to our local churches on Sunday, but it does mean worship and attentiveness to God can happen anywhere because we have “portable temples” (very appropriate for an iPod generation) and that, when we build ourselves according to God’s building code, he is there ready to listen and to be with us even when we feel the most alone.

Gotta go do some temple building…the projects I have my heart set on doing for the wonderful feeling of success and satisfaction…a little exercise…a little sacrifice/service…a little worship of a truly cool living God. Do hard hats and treadmills go together?

Point to Ponder: In what areas of your life is the “temple” only partially built? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? What activities could you undertake today to further build your temple? Exercise for 30 minutes or more? Eat right? Read a thought-provoking book? Permit yourself to fully feel the effects of a past or current event? Read your Bible? Get ‘er done! 🙂

Tomorrow’s post: Lessons Learned from Two Heart Attacks Too Soon 

 

 

30
Jan

Lessons Learned from Committing a “Neatness” on My Laundry Room…

Clothes pins

Lately, I’ve been better at getting my act together. Unfortunately, this success can lead to some unexpected “results.” These results often create “new issues” for me. Oh, joy. Just what I needed…more stuff to figure out and overcome.

Our laundry room is “Exhibit A” of this.  It’s often so hard to find a needed clothing item in our home that we resort to buying new stuff! Here’s the new “chaos” created when I’ve caught up in that infamous room:

1. A room with the purpose of cleaning stuff can sure get dirty.

2. Our sox multiply when I’m not looking. I’m thinking of getting them birth control.

3. After multiplying, these same sox all separate. You’d think Judge Judy gave them all a divorce decree.

4. I used to think I needed new long-sleeved shirts. Not anymore.

5. My dresser drawers shrunk. Did I somehow manage to put them in the dryer on the high setting?

6. Somebody downsized my closet. If I catch “somebody,” they’re in big trouble, buster.

7. The counter is dusty rose colored. I vaguely remember that now. (Mental Note: Dusty-rose is no longer in fashion. Time to replace the counter top?)

8. My floor is gray. I’m not sure if this is on purpose, or because it hasn’t been vacuumed in a decade, because it’s constantly covered with “stuff.”

9. The top of my washer and dryer is the same color as the front of my washer and dryer. Who knew!?

10. I have not yet disposed of the extra hangers I have left over from a successful breast cancer research garage sale from 3 1/2 years ago.

11. If you hold onto the clothes you wore 16 years ago and spend a year eating Lean Cuisines, you might be able to wear those clothes again. However, I think bell bottoms and crop tops are no longer in fashion. No one wants to see this body in a crop top, even post-Lean Cuisine.

12. I can rack up 4500 + steps on the ol’ pedometer trekking back and forth from my laundry room and my bedroom all day. (The bedroom is next to the laundry room).

13. By the time one de-junks the “war zone,” I no longer need to eat Lean Cuisines.

14. A King-Sized Bed does not adequately hold 3 foot piles of 16 years’ worth of laundry. Is there a Tyrant-Size?

Tomorrow’s mission: Washing quilts, sheets and pillowcases for a Tyrant-Sized bed. Oh, joy.  I feel a chocolate attack coming on.

Point to Ponder Challenge # 1: What possible obstacles might be awaiting you in an improvement project you’re undertaking? What factors make predicting this difficult? Can those factors be managed in some way? Would research on the subject help? 

Point to Ponder Challenge # 2: How do you feel when you encounter even more challenges once you’ve conquered another? Does it lead to derailment of maintaining vanquished challenge? 

Point to Ponder Challenge # 3: Create a “plan” or strategies that help you deal with obstacles, challenges and your negative feelings as you work on your improvement project. Is your plan and are your strategies reasonable? 

Point to Ponder Challenge # 4: Implement the plan and/or strategies! Share your success with us here!

 

 

 

 

29
Jan

26 Tuesdays…Are you in?

TIME 100 Gala, TIME'S 100 Most Influential People In The World - Red Carpet

Serious Session Alert: To honor the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, Ann Curry has started a viral movement called, “26 Acts of Kindness. She hopes each one of us will commit to doing one act of kindness for each of the 26 victims. If you tweet, you can go to #26actsofkindness to see what people are doing. Some are doing one act for each victim; some are doing 26 acts per victim! Some are even reading about each victim and trying to make their act of kindness related to that person in some way.

Thus, each Tuesday I will post a small amount of information about one of the victims, in the hopes that some of you will want to join in on the movement. I will also try to participate and update you each Tuesday to let you know how I’m doing (Knowing my lazy tendencies, I need some accountability here!).

I hope you will join me in this adventure! And if you do, would you please comment below the post for each Tuesday that you “completed your mission.” I don’t need to know what you did–just that you did it (However, if you’d like to share more details, that’s wonderful!). And, here’s why I’d like to know that you participated: Wouldn’t it be fun to count up all of the acts of kindness done because of MIP readers? I promise to keep a tally and also update the tally each week.

Here’s this week’s information from CNN about Charlotte Bacon:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Charlotte was sweet, outgoing and full of energy, her grandmother told CNN affiliate WCCO in Minnesota. “This is tough. This is surreal. You can’t believe this could happen,” Irene Hagen told the network. “The whole family is just devastated and we’re all trying to come to terms with it.” She said her granddaughter loved school and dresses. Her hair was a mass of beautiful red curls. “It’s horrible. It’s really horrible,” Hagen told WCCO. “It’s hard to believe that someone would kill children, innocent children.”

 

If you’d like to get ahead of me on this task, here’s the CNN link where you can read about all the victims and see their pictures. Let’s show a 6 year old angel in Heaven what we’re all about here. Are you in?

 

 

28
Jan

Word of the Week: fanfaronade

Dictionary --Word of the Week

Note to my faithful readers: To answer some reader questions: Yes, you may share this site address and my website FB page with those that I do not personally know. That’s actually my hope for this site. Also, when you send an email on the contact page, it goes directly to me, and me alone, as of right now. I reserve the right to have an email-answering slave should I be fortunate enough to have too many emails to answer personally. While your response to my site has been beyond my expectations, I don’t think THAT will happen any time soon. But, I promise to notify EVERYONE when, and if, the slave becomes necessary. And they’d only be a slave because I have no money to pay them! 😉 

Merriam-Webster Online (http://www.m-w.com) has a plethora (You’re welcome, DD.) of fun information regarding the English language. I hope to learn some new words this year and incorporate at least a few of them into these posts. We all have to “absorb” new words as we grow and adapt to an ever-changing world.

Thus, I periodically look up M-W’s Word of the Day. And fanfaronade just sounded fun. So, without  looking it up in a dictionary of some sort (Yes, that includes online dictionaries!), what do you think fanfaronade means? If you’re as clueless as I about fanfaronade, then simply guess by putting your definition in the comment box below and submitting it. You will be in good company, because I plan to offer up my guess, too. Next Monday I will tell you the real definition from Merriam-Webster. Here’s my definition:

fanfaronade: 1. the hoopla that accompanies a parade. 2. the brash serenade of a suitor outside a lovely girl’s window. 3. the resulting celebration of MaryAnn launching a blog site. (Sorry…couldn’t resist.)

Any better ideas??? Thanks, in advance, for having a little fun with the English language. I look forward to your “definitions.”

 

 

 

26
Jan

For Kim…

Heart into labyrinth.

Serious Session Alert: My friend, Kim, passed away 3 years ago today. While I wrote this to further define who I intend to be, it also describes her viewpoint…at least from my viewpoint. So, Kim? You have always been one of my favorite destinations…I can’t wait until our paths cross again.

You Are My Destination

What should I say to you To give you ease?
What should I do for you
To help you, pretty please?
What should I know
That would answer all your questions?
Who should I find
To learn wisdom, not retention?

It is confusion;
It is conundrum;
It is illusion;
It is reduction.

Who should I seek
To find all the answers?
Where is the One
To channel my frustration?
When will I know
How to combat in-conclusion?
Why am I here
In a world of your invention?

It is anger;
It is sadness;
It is living, or so it seems.
But is this indecision
Nothing more than just a dream?

Why are you gone
When you should be here?
Why are you here
But only fuzzy and unclear?
Where is my solace
In the midst of indignation?
Who is the target
Of my arrow’s good intentions?

It is your triumph;
It is your lesson;
It is a journey;
It is destination.

Let me find you;
Let me see you;
Let me banish in-conclusion;
Let me hear how you conceive
This crazy universe of distraction.

For each thought is instructive,
Each moment so productive
Do you know that you change me,
Just by being “respirative”?

For you are my yearning;
You are my task;
You are my statement;
You are my past.
Given the moment,
I can say, en masse,
You are my life’s journey…
You are the road map.

25
Jan

A Lesson Learned from the “Losers”…

Broken Ruler 2

Sometimes I question God’s wisdom in using me to work on his behalf in certain situations…I mean, if you want the wrong thing said, just invite MaryAnn to your gathering, ask her a question and presto! MaryAnn will completely screw up your festive mood.

But, a minister friend of mine said that those who need to be forgiven much and thus, are forgiven by God through Jesus’ death on the cross, are much more grateful than those who don’t have much to be forgiven much. True enough. More recently, another minister friend said that such people are “wounded healers.”

Thus, because of their huge appreciation of what God is doing for them, they are much more likely to go out and do something for God in return. It still doesn’t completely answer the question of why, when I attempt to do something in return, I generally do it wrong, but perhaps the point is that I feel I should do it and perhaps one tiny piece of my doing it is the right thing for that situation…perhaps as they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”

The Bible is replete with “losers.” Jacob was a cheater; Joseph had sibling rivalry issues; Moses stuttered; David was an adulterer; Rahab was a hooker; Jonah was a coward; Jeremiah alienated people; Peter was a flat-out liar; Paul tortured believers; Matthew was a hated IRS man; Samson fell for the wrong woman; John the Baptist was a little too honest; and pretty much all of the disciples abandoned their families. And yet, God managed to do great things through all of them.

So, to all of you who feel that you have very little to offer the world in a positive way right now, just realize that perhaps your ineptitude is actually a part of God’s plan for the world and that something good can actually come out of the crazy mix of good and bad in your life. God is just that good. And guess what? I know exactly how you feel…we’re in this together, friend, along with countless scores of “losers” from the Bible.

Apparently, flabbiness, arthritis, presbyopia, verbosity, noisiness, incessant giggling, sloth, selfishness, greed, denial, materialism, forgetfulness, avoidance, and quick-temperedness are all a part of God’s plan…who knew? So, move over, Peter! Another loser is about to try to put some good into the world.

Point to Ponder Challenge: Locate your favorite timer. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. Set the timer for 1 minute and start it. Write as many of your faults on the piece of paper until either you can think of no further faults or the timer goes off.  Now, look at all those faults and find the “up side” of each one. Ex: FAULT: I talk too much. UP SIDE: But, I am at ease speaking to large groups of people and teaching them something they didn’t know! WIN!

 

24
Jan

20 Seconds of Courage…Why Not?”

20 Seconds of Courage pic

Serious Session Alert! Some of my FB notes do go all the way back to 2007, but this one was originally posted this past year. Since fear often immobilizes me and I think fear is the biggest reason why I don’t change in a positive way, this notion really, really helped me. I hope it does the same for you, too:

Yesterday was one of “those days.” A good deal of it was due to my tendency to make an entire mountain range out of one molehill. Okay, so maybe it was more like one anthill. But, have you seen the anthills in Texas??? Some of them are bigger than any old molehill, even if the mole is the size of a Labrador retriever.

So, as I was freaking out, yet again, I decided to watch a little television to divert my attention to something less “rocky.” Since my mind couldn’t handle a lot, I tuned into “We Bought a Zoo,” a movie I had already seen in the theaters. To be honest, the movie had not impressed me that much. I considered it a “feel-good fluff piece.” But, I think that is because this is a movie where profound truths are delivered simply. In other words, it actually portrays real life, as opposed to some contrived, Hollywood-infused version of the truth.  For the record, Hollywood did take some liberties with the actual account of events, but I get the impression that a good deal of it is based in fact.

I had to watch it twice before some of the key phrases in the movie hit full force, but a few actually penetrated my thick skull. Here is the most minor of the concepts: That telling my children stories about their family and telling them the precise moment they started can be very special.  And that moment wasn’t conception; Benjamin Mee (the protagonist) would tell you it is the moment we first lay eyes on our spouses and the magic of that particular moment. It almost makes me want to revisit a softball field in West Lafayette, IN with my kids in tow.

But, perhaps the points that are more relevant to daily life have to do with something Benjamin’s brother taught him when he was young: It only takes 20 seconds of courage for something amazing to happen. Benjamin employed that thought to actually meet his future wife. He later encouraged his teenage son to do the same to repair a damaged relationship. He described that 20 seconds as “insane”, “terrifying,” and “embarrassing.” But, he told his son that when you venture to be that insane, terrified, and embarrassed, magical things happen every time.

When asked why he, who had no idea how to run a zoo, had bought one, he paused for a great deal of time and finally said, “Why not?” At first you think that Benjamin just pulled that out of the air because he had no better response to the question.  But, at the end of the film, you realize that “Why not?” was actually something that had been said to him by someone influential in his life. I won’t tell you who, since it would spoil the end of the movie for those who have not seen it, but suffice it to say, it hit me hard.

What are we, as individuals, as a society, as a world, missing out on because we are too afraid to venture a risky question, a risky, small move, or an idea? And what would happen if we all adopted the 20 second rule and just tried to be brave for 20 seconds? It may be that someone might magically say, “Why not?” in response to that terrifying question or idea. It may be that the situation improves. It may be that we get a much needed hug during a dark hour in our lives. It might be that we do something rather dramatic, like cure cancer, save a life or end world hunger. I like to think that Rosa Parks started a Civil Rights Movement just by being brave for 20 seconds….and really tired! And isn’t it interesting that we refer to it as “Movement”?

Benjamin’s wise brother also told him (when things do not look good for Mr. Mee), “If it’s the right thing to do, then nothing can stop you.”  Benjamin said he liked adventure and that buying a zoo was definitely an adventure. Perhaps that is how we should all view life–as an adventure, where sometimes the ride is a little bumpy and a little unpredictable, but thrilling in the end, because it’s the right thing to do.

What would be different for you if you were brave for 20 seconds and took “the road less traveled”–the adventurous route?  What would be different if that adventure led to accomplishing the right thing for ourselves, our communities and our society?

Do you have 20 seconds of courage today? If so, can you summon up enough will to be that insane, terrified and embarrassed? Perhaps you’re asking yourself why I would pose such a question to you today?

Why not? 🙂

Note on PTPC’s: You do not have to do ALL of these. Pick the one(s) that work for you. I’ll be happy if you just consider one of the following PTPC’s for this post!

Point to Ponder Challenge # 1: Watch the movie, “We Bought a Zoo” if you haven’t seen it so far. Here’s a link to various formats, if you don’t have this movie: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_15?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=we+bought+a+zoo+book&sprefix=We+Bought+a+Zoo%2Caps%2C210

Point to Ponder Challenge # 2: Read the book, “We Bought a Zoo,” if you haven’t so far. I’m a Kindle user, so here’s the Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/We-Bought-Zoo-Amazing-ebook/dp/B001EMHNXA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1358955573&sr=8-4&keywords=we+bought+a+zoo+book

Point to Ponder Challenge # 3: What fear(s) are immobilizing you? Write them down. Sometimes, recognition is the first step to change.

Point to Ponder Challenge # 4: What would you do with your 20 seconds of courage if fear wasn’t stopping you?  Write it down. 

 

22
Jan

Why Should Obama Have All the Fun?

 

White House

Barack Obama took his oath of office yesterday at the second inaugural. Merriam-Webster Online (http://www.m-w.com) defines inaugural as “marking a beginning.” Today I am marking the beginning of writing my first blog post on my brand new web site (http://www.maryanninprogress.com). And while there won’t be masses of people, Beyoncé,  Kelly Clarkson, a parade and hordes of Secret Service awaiting my inaugural post, I think I may have something in common with our President.

It’s my second time to start a blog and thus, my second inauguration, too. How so? In the fall of 2006 I noticed that my teenage daughter was spending a lot of time on this “new” web site called Facebook. Concerned about safety issues and a possible Internet addiction, I created an account for myself (during my lunch hour) on Facebook to investigate privacy policies and to see what she was doing on this site. My intention was to delete the account by the end of my lunch hour. I knew it was not “cool” for a mother to be on Facebook (at least not back then!), but my daughter, who was supposed to be at school at the time, posted to my wall before the hour was up. What?!

After chastising her (At least that’s my memory???) for posting while at school, I decided that, if she was not nervous about having her mother on this site, I would keep the account open to continue to monitor her activity. One day I noticed the Notes feature and my passion for writing got the better of me and I decided to post a note as a sort of online journal.

More than six years later, I have penned over 330 notes on Facebook. Shockingly, my friends regularly commented and shared my notes with others. People encouraged me to write a book regularly, as well. Knock me over with a feather!

To be honest, writing a book terrifies me. The whole process seems daunting. But fortunately, that young daughter grew up and married her high school boyfriend this past year. He just happens to be a web programmer and Internet entrepreneur now. (In other words, she married really, really well, despite the horror of having a mother on Facebook.) And I decided he would be a very good person to consult about writing a book, since he, himself, had already done that. Obviously, he has no fear!

He said, “First, you need to take ownership of your writing and move to your own web site.”  My mind raced with how such an idea could “backfire” in the most dramatic ways (All “racing” resulted in mass destruction of the planet, of course.). And that “racing” often paralyzes me.

But, recently, I seem to be making progress at facing several of my fears and I decided to analyze the Facebook Notes and see what happened to be most popular. I write on a variety of topics (I write whatever happens to hit me at 1 am, which is when I seem to be the most prolific…what can I say? I’m a bat.). I thought the most popular would be my sarcastic, humorous stuff and while that was the bulk of what I wrote, the stuff that generated the most response per post was the “make you think…make you act/change” stuff.  Don’t get me wrong…I still often inserted a fair amount of humor into these posts, too, but it was about things that actually helped me move forward in my life and helped me face all of those fears. They are the things that move us all these days…a movie quote, a remark someone makes on that vaunted Facebook, a situation that forces me to rethink, a message from my pastor.

Thus, the emphasis of maryanninprogress.com will be focused on my journey to self-improvement…becoming the MaryAnn that I want to be. My journey doesn’t look like most people’s…I take a lot of U-turns on my journey. You know those clover-leaf highway intersections??? Yeah…that’s what my self-improvement journey looks like. And I’ve pretty much been on every part of the clover leaf (And much to my dismay, I will be on these parts several times before I finally move in a forward direction.) If I can do it wrong, I will not only do that, but I will invent a new way to do it wrong…I mean, you might as well be creative about messing up, right??? (My long-suffering husband confirms this about me. Fortunately, he seems to even love this about me! Either that or he’s a really good actor. But, he’s been acting for over 30 years now, so maybe it’s the former??? If not, I’m nominating him for an Oscar.) Despite all of this nonsense, I do manage to learn and do manage to eventually conquer fear.

I hope you will take the journey with me (This really requires bravery!) and hopefully, take fewer U-turns and visits to your own clover leaves than I have had to take. Perhaps I can share what I have learned on my journey and it will inform yours? Perhaps we can inspire one another by our “conversation” here and laugh a little, pick ourselves up when we fail miserably and try, try again? I don’t know where we’ll wind up on this journey, but I hope we both wind up being happier, healthier and better at giving something useful to our families, friends, communities and nation.  They deserve that from us, in my humble opinion.

I have a small inkling that running the U.S. (with a House of Representatives that is led by your opposition party) is not exactly a picnic, either, even if you’re doing it for the second time. I bet it’s a little scary and you cannot always predict where you will wind up. I’ll bet that it often involves making some U-turns and visiting clover leaves and trying yet again. In other words, it’s like life, even for one lived on a much grander scale than mine (I doubt Jason Wu will be designing my ball gowns any time soon.). So, Mr. President? I feel a little bit of your fear and trepidation this morning. But, I also feel a great deal of excitement, too. Here’s to both of our second inaugurations—may we find success at improving each of our “corners” of the world!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post! I plan to “warm up” with a few “MaryAnnisms” and then “recycle” some of the “oldies, but goodies” from the Facebook years. And for the record, mothers are always welcome here….not to mention that awesome daughter of mine and her equally-awesome husband, aka my “web mentor.” But no posting while in class (She’s now working on her master’s.)!

 

 

08
Jan

16 New Habits: Pedometer Date…