Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Do We Trust God FOR?

Have you ever read any of Donald Miller's books? You should. You absolutely should. I was introduced to his work a few years ago in a small group I was attending. We read Searching for God Knows What and dissected it over the court of several weeks. I read a few of his other books after that, but Searching remains my favorite. (Yes, even over Blue Like Jazz.) I've actually started re-reading Searching and I am reminded once again of why I love Miller's work so much - he offers views and thoughts, not answers.

His blog post today, Grappling with Control and the Fear of Dying, hit a nerve with me. I've been thinking a lot about death lately. It's hard not to with the tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. But I think it has been on my mind more because of a recent fire near Harrisburg in which seven children died. If I'm honest with myself, I'm struggling with it, not just thinking about it. It has been a while since I really struggled with something like that. The last time I did was when my cousin was dying of ALS.

The question that has plagued me lately is, "What do I trust God for?" I know I'm supposed to trust God, but what am I supposed to be trusting Him FOR? You can trust God with your career, but that doesn't mean it will take off. You can trust God to protect you on a long drive, but that doesn't mean you won't get hit by a truck. I don't mean to be so morbid, but this is how I think. We have zero control, but we try to, and the harder we hang on, the more of a shock it seems to be when we realized we've been hanging onto thin air.

I understand that one of the things we do have to trust is that God is good, that even if our world comes crashing down in the next five minutes, God is the same. He never stops being good. We have to trust that God's peace can overshadow the harshest circumstances.

I guess, when it all comes down to it, we have to trust that our spirit and our eternal destination is far greater concern to God than what these bodies of ours go through. That doesn't mean God doesn't care; God cares about our ins and outs. It's so hard for me to see beyond this earth, my flesh, and my plans. It's so hard for me to grasp that the deepest pain I could ever feel in this life will barely register in a Heaven where there is no more sorrow.

So maybe that's what I'm supposed to trust God for - hope and eternity. But it seems like there should be more to it than that. "What do I trust God for?" could just as easily be translated into, "What do I pray for?" It seems so odd to me to pray for something - traveling mercies, a sick person's healing, financial help - while knowing that if it's not on God's agenda, it's not going to happen. But we're supposed to trust God...

The Bible says that God answers prayer, but when He doesn't, we like to say that He DID answer, just not in a way we wanted Him too. That seems ridiculous to me. If you ask God to help Bob get to his squash tournament safely, and he crashes and winds up in the hospital in a coma, how is that God answering prayer, just in a different way? Personally, I think that God sometimes doesn't answer prayer, and we don't know how to explain it, so we say that He did when He so obviously didn't. Have you ever prayed for the healing of a terminally ill person over the course of years, only to watch that person die? I have. I'm not angry at God for that (anymore), but I don't buy that God answered my prayer, but in a funky way none of us can understand. He just didn't answer it, because this was the path my cousin's life had to take. Which just shows you right there that we have no control, because my cousin and his family had a totally different plan mapped out than the one God allowed them to take.

And that's fine. Like I said, my days of anger and 'wandering through the desert" have ended. I saw God work in my cousin's life and in the lives of his family. I know he wasn't alone, and I know I will see him again. But He didn't answer our prayers for healing.

Not that we deserve it. You can't earn your prayers, nor is God a vending machine. You don't put your prayer in the slot and out pops the prize. I'm not saying that's how I view God, either. I'm just confused. Do we just trust Him to be there for us? I know God desires us to pray because He wants an open dialogue with us. He wants intimate conversation.

I'm just a little lost on this issue. When I think I have a grasp on it, I lose it again. Donald Miller's blog just got me thinking about it in earnest today. I was glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks these thoughts. I'd like to be able to believe and not question, kind of like my husband. He doesn't doubt, really. He believes in a very child-like way and I admire that about him. Sometimes I drive him a little crazy with my own questions and doubts because he doesn't understand how I could have them in the first place. I suppose I am just wired differently. Logic takes over where I wish faith would kick in.

I don't know which would be easier - understanding these questions, or just not needing to know. Pin It

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Business is a little slow right now. For the first time in quite a while, I don't have any work sitting in front of me.

It's driving me crazy.

I finally finished my book proposal on Monday. It was a massive project that had taken up a lot of my time for several months. Now I don't know what to do with myself. I tried to create work for myself, but that was unsuccessful. I sent writing samples and my resume to a number of new publications, which always translates into "hurry up and wait." When I see the number change on my inbox, I check it as fast as I can and so far it has been nothing but ads. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

I watched YouTube today and ate everything that wasn't nailed down. Now what? I know better than to try and nap around here. This is not a nap-friendly apartment building.

I need some work, ya'll. Give it here!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Charlie Sheen and Mental Illness: Can We Laugh?

I don't wish mental illness or drug addiction on anyone. But, boy, Charlie... you'd better not be faking this.

I admit it - I've been keeping up with the Charlie Sheen saga. It's hard not to when it's everywhere you turn. I'm torn as to how I should react. No, I'm really  torn. It's entertaining and if that were not the case, nobody would be paying attention. No doubt Charlie is in a bad place. Seriously? You know you're in a bad place when witches think you've lost it.

Everyone is trying to figure out what his major malfunction is. Is he mentally ill? On drugs? Both? I have even wondered if he was pulling a Joaquin Phoenix for publicity. But as my friend pointed out yesterday, pulling a Joaquin certainly cost him a lot, if that's the case. He got fired, his coworkers were in jeopardy of losing their jobs (still might), and the general public thinks you're the village idiot.

So if he's mentally ill, and I'm mentally ill, and I write about mental illness... am I terrible person for laughing at some of his antics? If he's mentally ill, I feel for him. I can't imagine having a breakdown in front of millions of people. I feel even worse for him that he obviously doesn't have any real friends or an effective support system in his life. True friends would not try to gain fame and profit from his mental state. True friends would demand that he get treatment.

In a perfect world, everyone would be insisting that Charlie seek help - regardless of what kind he needs - instead of egging him on, as many seem to be doing. We definitely should not be encouraging him to act more out-of-control, and yet if you look at his Twitter page or his little online "TV show" (which I won't post a link to), it's obvious that there are A LOT of sick people in this world who would genuinely LOVE to see Charlie Sheen crash and burn in a big public way.

OK, fine. But can we laugh? Is it OK to admit that some of the stuff that has come out of his mouth recently is humorous? Some of it is disgusting, ridiculous, and downright vulgar, but I'm sorry - BUT I'M SORRY - hearing him say that he credits his "grand wizard master" with his thoughts makes me laugh. You know, the witches and warlocks got mad, but I don't think Charlie even meant it literally. I think Charlie's definition of his "grand wizard master" is the the genius that he considers his own brain... if you can imagine such a thing.

I feel like I should be speaking out against anyone who pokes fun at his behavior because, after all, I said some strange things before I was treated. (Though nothing quite as extreme as old Chuck here.) I can now laugh at some of my own antics because, face it, it's weird. I don't feel that I'm doing anything wrong or being politically incorrect by laughing at my antics. I think it's a serious thing that requires laughter because without laughter, it would almost be too serious to handle.

There is also a line between poking fun and encouraging. It does infuriate me that there are people out there telling Charlie Sheen to keep going because they could very well be pushing him towards a drug overdose, suicide, or a true nervous breakdown. It's wrong and even though it's wrong, Americans love to watch celebrities screw up, so nothing I say or do is going to stop people.

But having a laugh while hoping and praying the man finds real friends and real help? To me, it would seem almost worse NOT to laugh. If we really want to "normalize" mental illness, then I believe nothing is worse than refusing to have a sense of humor and treating it like the big scary elephant in the room. If comedians can get onstage and make fun of their own cancer then why are we so terrible for thinking that some of the stuff Charlie says is kind of funny?

I may be setting myself up here for a virtual "smack-down" but this is how I see the Sheen situation, my own life, and mental illness in general. Let's all have a laugh because if we all gather in a corner to tremble together, we're only making it seem weirder.

That's just me.

But there are other issues to consider. This is where I'm torn. On the one hand, some of this is funny and I think it's OK to laugh. On the other hand, a grown man pretending to be mentally ill for press is like an 8th-grader pretending to commit suicide so her parents will un-ground her. It's stupid and dangerous. Like I said, part of me wonders if he's pulling a Joaquin, and I'm not the only one. If that's the case, then Charlie Sheen is one selfish jerk. He's got young children who will grow up having to cope with their father's bizarre and offensive behavior. And - oh yeah - if this is all an act, he's making people who do have legitimate mental health issues look really bad. Yes, folks, this what the public thinks of right now when you say "bipolar disorder." Forget the fact that there are people like me in the world who have mental illness and yet manage to have a happy marriage and successful self-employment. They picture a haggard-looking, middle-age man chain-smoking and pontificating into a web cam about everything from tiger blood to "The Wind Beneath My Wings" being a little flat on "American Idol." Really, if Charlie is faking this, then somebody ought to consider smacking Charlie & Joaquin's heads together.

Gilda Radner made fun of her cancer. That was cool. We got it.
If any celebrity PRETENDED to have cancer to get attention and got CAUGHT, we would DEVOUR them. It would be THE END of them. We would not stand for it. We would be disgusted to the point of vomiting.

If Charlie Sheen is on drugs, I pray he goes to rehab.
If Charlie Sheen is mentally ill, I pray he gets treatment.
If Charlie Sheen is pretending, I pray that everyone reacts to him with the horror and disgust that his little game truly deserves. Because it's not genius, or "poetry at his fingertips." It's filth. It's wrong. It's a slap in the face to all of us who legitimately struggle with mental illness.

If that is the case, then this publicity should be the LAST publicity he ever gets. Pin It

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Staying "Caught Up"

I am not the world's best housewife. I'm supportive and loving (usually - hopefully hubby would agree) but I'm really bad at housekeeping. Take for instance the fact that I'm blogging when I could be cleaning. There's a prime example.

I don't know how people with children do it. All I have is one husband and one cat and I feel like I can never stay on top of the housework. I have a pile of clothing next to my bed that has to go. Every day I look at it and tell myself I'm going to grab some trash bags and sort out what is wearable and what needs to go to Good Will. I think I've been telling myself that since at least August. We won't even talk about my kitchen.

Then there's cooking. I also hate to cook. When my husband asks me what we're going to have for dinner I always answer, "Ugh!" This is code for "I haven't thought about it and I was really hoping we would order takeout." But we can't order takeout every night. It's expensive, it's unhealthy, and that means I have to cook. That's why "ugh" eventually turns into "something quick." My idea of cooking means peeling carrots. That's a lot of cooking to me. If it weren't for frozen veggies, I'd weigh 400 pounds and I'd sneeze cholesterol.

I watch this show "Ruby" about an obese woman trying to get healthy. She eats these Hour Glass weight loss meals. Pre-packaged, perfectly measured, healthy meals you just take out of the fridge and microwave. She often complains about how boring they are, but I always sit there and think how wonderful it must be to just reach in your fridge and every meal is right there, waiting for you. Peel back the plastic and your cooking is done. AND it's healthy.

Today I planned on eating leftover chili for lunch. There was a lot left over from last night's dinner. I can handle spooning things from one container to another - that I can do. When I opened the fridge, I realized my husband had taken the whole thing to work, which left me with a problem. I was going to have to make lunch. The only thing in the house - as far as I knew - was tuna. Open the can, DRAIN the can, fork it into a bowl, add the ingredients, mix, THEN slap it on some bread. WHOA! WAY TOO MUCH WORK FOR LUNCH! I was very excited to find a can of Spaghetti-O's in the cupboard. Full of sugar and salt. Terrible for me. But all I had to do was open the can and nuke it.

Cooking might be more palatable to me (har har) if it didn't require clean-up. You might be thinking I have to stand at the sink and wash dishes for an hour but no...that's not the case. I have a dishwasher. If I didn't have a dishwasher, I would have been on the show "Hoarders" by now. I don't mind loading the dishwasher but for some inexplicable reason I hate UN-loading it. Generally, when dinnertime rolls around, hubby and I get our plates and utensils out of the dishwasher, not out of a cupboard. Cooking means more time spent bent over the dishwasher. See where I'm going with this?

Months ago, I designed my home office, or as my husband calls it, "Amy Grant Land." Lots of memorabilia, my own artwork, candles... it was so nice when I first put it together. You should see it now. It's a nightmare. I should try throwing things away every once in a while. It's not all my fault, though. Husband uses the office for his schoolwork. Want me to call out 2 things that are sitting directly in front of me at my computer desk? OK. A bottle of honey and a bag of Fritos.

During my brief stint in college, I had a friend who was constantly disgusted/horrified by the state of my dorm room. She would come to my room to meet me so we could go somewhere and would wind up cleaning it for me just so she wouldn't have to look at it in disarray anymore. I'm not as bad as I used to be in college, where I once broke 6 bottles of IBC root beer on my floor, swept up the glass but never thoroughly wiped up the soda, and stuck to the floor for the next month. I'm not like that anymore, I promise. But sometimes I wish my friend lived nearby so I could "invite her over" and get her to clean my apartment.

And now it's 3:10 pm which means I should probably get a shower. I DO bathe every day... it's just that sometimes I don't bathe until mid- to late-afternoon. If hubby isn't home, who do I need to smell good for?

The cat doesn't care. She poops in a box. Pin It

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Amy, Michael, My Shirt, and Stupid Things I've Said

I guess I'm a loser for not blogging about Sunday night's Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith show until now. It was awesome - don't assume that just because I'm a lazy blogger I didn't enjoy myself.

One minute I'm 12 years old, watching Amy Grant videos in my VCR. The next thing I know, I'm eating a salad across from her as she talks to me with only one side of her hair done. One minute, I'm slapping Michael W. Smith posters on my wall and swooning over him. The next thing I know, I'm introducing him to my husband.  It's a crazy world, isn't it? That was Sunday night. That's my take on it. I've met both of them but Sunday night was the first time I really thought to myself, "Gosh, this is weird." Weird in a GOOD way, but still...weird.

What do famous people eat for dinner? Thanksgiving food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, pie... Yup, that's what we had. The salad I mentioned - KILLER salad dressing. Raspberry? Something with fruit in it. Who do you ask for a recipe in a green room? Nobody. A bummer, because that salad dressing was the bomb. I wish I could get the recipe, make it for my friends and say, "Oh yes, this is my Amy Grant Michael W. Smith Green Room Recipe. You like?"

Anyway, back to Amy and Michael. I stared at both of them in the green room and had no idea who either of them were. I KNOW, RIGHT?!? Colleen, the merchandise girl (for lack of a more formal title) had to introduce me to them before I realized who they were. Now that's weird because I've been staring at these people for 20 years. At one time in my life, my bedroom wall was completely blocked by posters. I blame it on the fact that I was in the emergency room until 6:30 am Saturday morning, or maybe I was just manic. I didn't talk to Michael that much at dinner. He was engrossed in conversation with two other band mates and I didn't want to go over and start sounding the way I felt, which was like a middle school-age girl with braces. Amy came in, Colleen the Merchandise Girl introduced us (for about the 10th time in my life, but I still said "nice to meet you") and she sat down with my husband and I and chatted with us for a few minutes.

If you've never met Amy Grant before, you realize two things immediately: she's very pretty up close (not all famous people can pull this off, trust me), and she's very kind. I was a little startled because, as I said at the beginning, only half of her hair was done and for the first 30 seconds I wondered if she was aware of it. After all, it WAS pouring down rain. Maybe she stepped out of the tour bus at one point and that was the result, how did I know? Then she said, "Only half of my hair is done." OK, good. Relief. No more wondering if Amy was the Crazy Cat Lady. She knew.

She thanked me for designing the shirt. I said something about wanting to be her backup singer or her opening act when I was a kid. I have no idea what the two had to do with each other, but I've never said anything particularly intelligent to Amy Grant in my entire life. I take pride in the fact that I said it with a cool demeanor and wasn't all "OMIGAWD I LOVE YOU!!!" about it. That would have been SO lame. I told her - to top off my stupidity - that I'd designed it as a gift to her... and lost the artwork.
"I bought you a birthday present and accidentally threw it away." I'm sure she was touched.

We mostly talked to the tour manager, a guy named Joey who reminded me of my high school psychology teacher. He was a lot of fun and very sweet. I especially appreciated that he had two servings of dinner. It gave me permission to have two desserts. Who cares that I'd just gotten out of the hospital? (Mmm...key lime pie!) Colleen the Merchandise Girl introduced us to the band members as they came in... Kim Keyes, Jenny Gill (who has a new married name I couldn't pronounce and won't attempt to spell), Mike Brignardello... OH BABY. Lots of Christian music history sitting in one room. It was Heaven with raspberry salad dressing as a crown from Jesus - HALLELUJAH! We didn't realize, however, that one guy was from the band Delirious. Had we realized this, my husband would have gushed and I would have excused myself to the bathroom to avoid embarrassment.

We had all-access passes. For some people, that means they just flash their pass and go wherever they want. For us, it meant being scared we were going to open the wrong door and set off an alarm and making my friend Sharlene go everywhere with us. I used the female band restroom and had to walk past Amy's dressing room to get there. Nobody arrested me, questioned me, or told me to back up. It was amazing. I almost tried to drive the tour bus.

At the meet-and-greet, which immediately followed dinner, we talked more to Michael. Mostly, I listened to my friend Sharlene - who knows both Amy and Michael -  talk to him and then I blurted out, "I'm making shirts for you too!" He smiled big and said, "Great! Let's do it!" As he walked away, Sharlene and I marveled at the fact that he has 5 grandchildren. My teenage crush. Grandchildren. NEED MORE SALAD DRESSING!

When Amy got to us, I asked her to sign 2 of my shirts - one for me to frame, and one for my mother, who didn't believe I'd ever ask Amy Grant to sign something for my mom. You'd think she'd know me by now. I may not say intelligent things, but I'm not afraid to bleat them like a shell-shocked bird. Again, I eavesdropped as she talked to my friend, Sharlene.

The show itself was amazing. All the songs I remembered from my youth!! So great to be able to sing along to EVERY. SINGLE. SONG. and know EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. I loved it. It was also so cool to meet up with other Friends of Amy fans that I knew 15+ years ago!! It was an amazing experience. Definitely a dream come true. I am a blessed girl.

I just wish I could come up with smarter things to say when I'm on the spot!!! Pin It
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