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A woman's walk through marriage, parenthood, servanthood and the family of God.





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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

 
Saying Goodbye

Well, I guess this is it. The new blog, The View from the Porch Swing, is ready to go. From now on that's where I'll be posting, but I will leave this site up for a while so you all can find me.

Oh, this is just too sad.

posted by Stacy at 1:43 PM

 
Day 13: Worship that pleases God.

Characteristics of God-pleasing worship:

-Accurate. It must be based on the truth of scripture.
-Authentic. You must mean what you say. Worship is your spirit responding to God's. Since we are all unique, we will all respond differently.
-Thoughtful. If worship is mindless (vain repetitions) it is meaningless. Honor God with fresh thoughts and words. Be specific.
-Practical. God wants our bodies as living sacrifices because they are the tool by which our work here on Earth is done.

Question to Consider: Which is more pleasing to God right now-my public worship or my private worship? What will I do about this?

Right now I'd have to say my private worship is more pleasing to God. Even though I don't do enough of it, it is accurate, authentic, thoughtful and practical. My public worship right now is pretty reserved. I've been burned and I'm still trying to find my place in a church so I feel like I'm not really connecting yet. I don't know what else to do other than keep plugging along as I have been and allowing some time to heal.


posted by Stacy at 12:28 PM

Monday, May 10, 2004

 
Just wanted to let you know I am in the process of creating a new blog. I'm tired of the look/feel of this one. I'm having some problems, though, so be patient. I hope to have it up and running in the next couple of days at most. If anything here stops working, it is because I switched the account to the new blog.

You can get a sneak preview here.

posted by Stacy at 7:02 PM

 
I really am reading The Purpose-Driven Life everyday. I just haven't had the time to post lately. Friday night I drove one of 11 buses (over 600 people) from our school district to a Pittsburgh Pirates' game. They played the Dodgers. Well, they stood on the field while the Dodgers played. It was not a good game and it was over in slightly under two hours! It took us longer than that to drive to Pittsburgh. Good thing it was also fireworks night so the folks got to see a very nice display. Ah well, a sunny May evening at the ballpark, great seats and $5 hotdogs...not too shabby. I got a nice tip out of the deal, too. Kinda helps make up for the huge mess I had to clean up this morning (spilled drinks and food and lots of garbage). Saturday Tim had to drive up to Johnstown and insisted we all go. We ended up doing what he needed to do and then driving around and stopping at places we hadn't been before. Did some shopping, too. Not one of us was in a good mood, but we spent the entire day together. It was actually one of those days when it would have been better if we hadn't. Yesterday was nice. Smiling, happy family members to have Mothers' Day breakfast together, attend church and walk through the flea market. The kids gave me a gold #1 MOM necklace. I spent the rest of the day planting flowers and working in the yard.

So, excuses made, here's where I try to catch up....but I doubt I can post on 5 days right now.

Day 11: Becoming Best Friends with God

How?
-Constant conversation with him.
-Continual meditation on his Word.

Question to Consider: What can I do to remind myself to think about God and talk to him more often throughout the day?

A very liberating thought for me in this chapter was that practicing the presence of God is a skill we have to develop and force (train) ourselves to do every day until it becomes a habit. I have given myself a lot of guilt over the years (and probably discouraged myself as well) because I struggle with turning to God with everything. It isn't because I want control or I think he can't handle it....I JUST DON'T THINK OF IT till much later. That it's something I need to be continually working on and knowing that most everyone else is in the same way was a huge relief. I'm not the horrible Christian I thought I was. I'm just one with work to do.

What can I do practically? I have post-its here and there to remind myself and I'm trying to catch myself when I start worrying about something to switch gears and have a conversation with God about it. I am trying to send up lots of sentence prayers. I'm also doing something I heard from a woman the last time I did this study....I start praying in the morning and then I don't say "amen" until I'm ready to go to sleep at night. That way the conversation stays open. I'm not tempted to think of it as being finished.

Day 12: Developing Your Friendship with God

YOU ARE AS CLOSE TO GOD AS YOU CHOOSE TO BE. Isn't that a sobering thought? If I'm not close, it's my fault. God's always right there waiting for me. I have to choose to go to him. I have to choose whether he's going to be my life's best friend or just an acquaintance I exchange meaningless greetings with on Sundays. If I want to go deeper, how do I do it?

-I must choose to be honest with God. This means sharing all my feelings with him....and why not, he knows about them anyway.
-I must choose to obey God in faith. I obey God because I love him, because I know he loves me and wants what's best for me. I trust him.
-I must desire friendship with God more than anything else. Intimate friendship is a choice, not an accident. I must intentionally seek it. Do I really want it? More than anything? What is it worth to me?

Question to Consider: What practical choices will I make today in order to grow closer to God?

I need to put my efforts into knowing God more fully, to persue a deeper relationship. I often take the first steps but then am guilty of stepping back and waiting on God. I need to invite him to be part of every area of my life (no barriers), talk with him (about everything), listen to him (know who he is), spend time with him....all the things I would do in a human relationship I wanted to grow deeper.

posted by Stacy at 11:48 AM

Friday, May 07, 2004

 
ONE FOR THE MOMS
(and anyone that wants to understand where we're coming from)

A MANIC MOM'S PITY PARTY
By Angela Gillaspie

I'm having a Manic Mom Pity Party, want to come?

Bring your cup of coffee, box of tissues, and share your stories of being unable to take a shower without someone asking you to make a grilled cheese or to tell you that so-and-so put the cat in the refrigerator. Locking the bathroom door is useless since the kids discovered how to pick it a year ago.

Can you imagine going to the dentist without having your children argue and spray the hygienist with the squirter thingie? When we're sick or just need a check up, wouldn't it be great to go ALONE to the doctor's office? I'll laugh with you when someone mentions getting a babysitter. I'd have to get another mortgage on my house to afford someone to watch my four kids just so that I could have some quality time with my gynecologist.

You and I appreciate the irony of "sleeping when the baby sleeps" because we know too well that as soon as we doze off, the baby will cry.

I'll give you a sympathetic smile when you tell me that you had to give up using the telephone or Internet because of the constant interruptions during these activities to discuss life's deepest meanings. Speaking of life's deep meanings, isn't it strange how YOU were the one that lost your innocence when you explained where babies came from?

We may laugh out loud when we discover that we've wondered about our sanity when World War III erupted over something as simple as blowing a nose, picking up dirty socks, or choosing a breakfast cereal. Let me tell you about how my kids constantly fight over the remote and you can tell me about how your kids got into a wrestling match over the coveted Scooby Doo cup.

Somber, I admit that I feel like a lousy mom when my kids don't obey; I fear that it's a reflection of my poor parenting skills. Your eyes tear up as you agree and mention that you feel that way when your kids hurt each other - you hate that you must protect one child from another. I mention that I feel guilty for wondering if my kids will grow up to be Charles Manson, or worse, Bill Clinton.

That sets off a round of dewy-eyed laughter and we both recount how many times we said we were NOT going out in public EVER again with our children because of how rambunctious they were. I giggle and tell you of the time that I wept openly in a crowded restaurant over spilled milk.

At the heart of my pity party is the realization that I can't do it all. You nod, oh yes, you understand! You point out that it could be much worse and you warn me about teenagers and the bad choices they may make like drugs, sex, and, God forbid, listening to Britney Spears.

With each new age, there is a whole new set of worries. One thing remains constant - the love for my children. When I pray for strength, I realize that God knows exactly how I feel. He provides so much, yet many of His children forget or just DON'T stop and thank Him. This thought puts my pity party in perspective. I know deep down that my kids appreciate me - just like God knows that I appreciate Him.

I'm feeling better now, how about you? It's OK not to be Super Mom. We can't do it all, but what we do accomplish is important and appreciated. Little things like offering cookies fresh from the oven to warm your child's tummy (and heart) after a chilly ride home on the bus. In the rain, wind, cold, and 90-degree heat, we coached their soccer teams and chaperoned field trips.

We were there when the first tooth erupted and we tiptoed in the darkness five years later to exchange that same tooth for a dollar. We became emotional during their school musicals. We practically exploded with relief when the doctor said they had nothing serious.

Keep on being a fantastic and caring parent and know that you are appreciated even though no one says it out loud. We're doing an awesome job. Aren't we totally blessed to have the label "Mom" or "Dad" put on us? Thanks for sharing a Manic Mom Pity Party with me.

Copyright 2003 Angela Gillaspie. Permission is granted to send this to others, but not for commercial purposes.

You can find other Mom-related humor and more at Angela's site:
http://www.southernangel.com/



posted by Stacy at 9:40 AM

Thursday, May 06, 2004

 
Catch up with y'all on Saturday. Had a trip all day today followed by La Looch's choral concert. Then there's that trip to the Pirates game tomorrow night. Thanks guys!

posted by Stacy at 9:34 PM

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

 
Torn....

My boss called. One of the drivers had to back out of a much coveted trip. It's my turn in the rotation for trip assignment.

It's an awesome trip. Eleven buses going to PNC park for a Pittsburgh Pirates game this Friday. The high school ensemble is singing the National Anthem and a couple of other kids are throwing out the first pitch and catching it. And I don't have to pay for it. In fact, I get paid for going.

So what's the problem? Our PDL small group meets Friday nights. I hate to miss it. I called Tim and he said he'd ask his sister to change it till Saturday, but I don't want to ask the group to do that. They already did that for us next week because of the prom. It's also our turn to provide the snack. I guess Tim is going to go and I'm going to prepare the snack for him to take.

I could probably whine my way out of the trip, but it would put my boss in a tough spot and I've been complaining (to Tim and myself) about not getting very many big trips. Summer is coming and with that the end of paychecks except for a small unemployment check each week. Lots of trips means a very nice last check as they are only paid once a month. I finally put it in God's hands and...plop!...the trip everyone wanted falls in my lap. What's a girl to do? Is it possible that God doesn't require perfect attendance? Is my guilt because it's wrong to go or because of the expectations put on me by others.....which is something I'm supposed to be working toward getting away from in this study.

posted by Stacy at 12:32 PM

 
40 Days of Purpose: Day 10

Actually, it's day 11. I was on the go all day yesterday so am behind on posting....but not on reading for those of you keeping me accountable.

*Interesting side note: I've noticed the number of visits my blog gets everyday has been dropping since I started posting about the 40 Days of Purpose. Coincidence?

I drove second graders to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh yesterday. One of the great perks of my job is that whenever I drive, I can get in free to where we've gone. The Carnegie is one of the country's best museums. I love wandering through its exhibits. I wish I had had time to walk through the art museum, too. They have a fantastic collection.

Megan had her first soccer game last night. She plays in a rec league and I was a little concerned at first that they put all the kids ages 11-17 together, but I see the wisdom of it after watching the game. All but a couple of the older kids are really great with the younger ones, teaching and encouraging them as they play.....no one got nasty if a mistake was made. Megan, I think, is a little afraid to try and take the ball from the older kids. There is no aggression at all in her play. She needs a little. We told her to make like the Water Boy and picture her brother's face on all the other team members since she has no problem at all getting aggressive with him. Later we thought maybe that wouldn't be fair to the other kids. She'll probably tear them limb from limb! LOL

We had to run to the high school after Megan's game to watch a volleyball match. What a heart breaker. Derry played the only team ahead of them (and the only team they've lost to) in the section. They were so pumped up and there was a capacity crowd in the gym cheering them on. Had they won they would have been tied for first and there would have had to be a tie-breaker. Now the only hope they have of finishing first is to win their last two games and have the other team lose its last two. I felt so bad for the boys. Seeing those big he-men in tears was tough. This is the coach's last year and they wanted to give him a section championship (He's coached I don't know how many of those and three state championship teams). The coach told them he is proud of them and that they gave it their all, but he is already switching his attention to the state championship matches. He told the boys last night that he will be happy if they finish third in the state. I suspect he said third because they will have to face the two teams they have been unable to defeat.

Anyway, I did read so here's my notes/thoughts on Day 10.

The Heart of Worship
*The heart of worship is surrender.

True worship happens when you give yourself completely to God. He wants all of your life, 95% is not enough.

Barriers to Surrender
-Trust: You won't surrender to God unless you trust him, but you can't trust him until you know him better.
-Pride: We don't want to admit that we're not in charge of everything in our lives.

What is Surrender?
-Obedience: Saying "yes, Lord" to whatever God asks of you.
-Trust: Relying on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate the situation yourself.

Surrender is the only way to live: Everybody eventually surrenders to something or someone and if it isn't God then it will be to the expectations and opinions of others, to money, resentment, fear or our own pride, ego or lust. Everyone is free to choose what they surrender to, but they are not free from the consequences of that choice.

The practice of surrender is moment by moment and lifelong. You may have to resurrender many times a day. It must be a daily habit.

Question to Consider: What area of my life am I holding back from God?

I am not liking these questions. After thinking about this one for a while, I am forced to admit that I am one of those that hasn't totally surrendered my life. I'm only giving him that 90-95%. It isn't one area that I'm not giving him, I'm holding back a little bit of it all. My parents were very controlling, critical and emotionally cold. I did not grow up feeling loved or encouraged. Their comments often cut to the quick. I never felt like anything I did was good enough to make them like me. No matter what I did, rather than praise my efforts, my mother said nothing and my dad upped the ante. (If I got an A on my report card I'd be told to do it all the time. If I got a B I was asked why it wasn't an A.) My defense over the years came to be the shutting down of my emotions. I wasn't going to let them hurt me....and if they did (and oh, did they), I'd be damned if they were going to know it. Now I find it near impossible to let go of that control. I want to. I want to just let go, but something holds me back and I just can't do it.

posted by Stacy at 10:23 AM

Monday, May 03, 2004

 
40 Days of Purpose: Day 9

God smiles when:
-we love him supremely
-we trust him completely
-we obey him wholeheartedly
-we praise and thank him continually
-we use our abilities

Question to Consider: Since God knows what is best, in what areas of my life do I need to trust him more.

Finances.

posted by Stacy at 7:26 PM

 
Weekend in Review

Our Purpose-Driven Life group met for the first time Friday evening. There are just three couples: us, Tim's sister and her husband and another from the church. Most of this so far is review from when we did it last spring (see April/May/June in the archives). Not a lot of it is jumping up and grabbing me like it did the first time, but I think maybe Tim and I are going to come away from this with a far greater gift. First of all, we are getting a chance to see a side of his sister and brother-in-law that we've never seen. I never would have suspected their level of spiritual depth and maturity before. We are also being blessed by their honesty. I don't see them holding anything back because we are there. By the time we are finished, I suspect Tim's relationship with not only this sister, but the rest of the family as well, will have gone through a healing process and that the rift that makes him feel like the black sheep of the family will have begun to close. We are also learning to trust other Christians again. We know not everyone is going to burn us like those in our old church did or put on that mask of perfection that makes it very difficult to be honest yourself out of fear, but it's still very hard not to have your guard up and ours has been up for a long time. It's become habit not to let anyone get too close. It's my hope that we'll be able to let go of some of that with this group.

Saturday I took Matt and Christy to the mall to get Matt's tux for the prom. It was painless (for me) I gave Matt the money and sent the two of them off to do it themselves while I walked around. I treated them to lunch at Red Lobster. Christy is a very nice girl. Matt insists they are just friends, but I see more than that....at least on her side. I let Matt know that and we talked a little about not hurting her if he really isn't interested. I tend to think he is, but is maybe a bit gun-shy after his breakup with Holly. That was friendly at first, but she has been slandering him lately and Matt has been pretty upset by it. I wasn't feeling very well by the time we got home and still didn't feel well by the time we should have left for the party with the people I work with. I had Tim run out the buns I had bought for it and make my apologies. Never thought I'd be thankful to be sick, but I was. I really didn't want to go, but felt kind of obligated. I don't feel guilty since I learned a lot of people didn't show up and the ones that did were party poopers. One of the driver's husband died that afternoon of a massive heart attack. He was 42 with no history of heart disease. It put a real pall on the festivities.

Tim had to go in to work Sunday morning to finish up what he didn't get finished Saturday (it had to be done for first thing this morning). He missed church, which was too bad. Matt and I went and really enjoyed it. It was a communion service. We were also able to talk a little bit with the youth pastor. He wants to take Matt out to lunch sometime and said he'd really like to have Tim and I help out with youth (we have mutual friends so he knows where we stand) but church policy is that we have to either be members or regular attenders for six months before we can lead in any way. It doesn't bother me since we are not sure we will stay there permanently. I just offered thinking maybe we could be warm, live, working bodies when they have car washes or rummage sales or something for the time being. Tim did make it home to go to our friends' in the afternoon for a cookout. Ha! We cooked out, but ate in, thanks to a nasty rain storm that blew through and dropped the temperature at least 20 degrees. From there we drove north another hour to pick Megan up at another of Tim's sisters' (he has 5 and a brother). She had a wonderful time at Hershey Park and with her cousins. She was worn out, though and not feeling good by the time we got home. Too much weekend, I think.

Back to work today. Sigh. It's getting harder and harder to crawl out of bed in the mornings and drag myself to work. It's time for summer vacation. 21 more days. I have another cold and don't feel like doing much but I need to get myself to the bank and make a deposit and then do some grocery shopping. There is nothing in the house to eat. Well, there is......there just isn't anything anyone wants.

posted by Stacy at 10:13 AM

 
40 Days of Purpose: Day 7

The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you.

*OUCH!* In the entire universe, only two of God's creations fail to bring glory to him: fallen angels (demons) and us (people).

We bring glory to God by:
-worshipping him
-loving other believers
-becoming like Christ
-serving others with our gifts
-telling others about him

Question to Consider: Where in my daily routine can I become more aware of God's glory?

Honestly, I could stand to become more aware of it in just about all areas. I tend to get bogged down in the busyness of life and don't pay enough attention. I need to make the effort to really look for his glory in all the little things like my job, the people around me, housework, a sunny day, a rainy day.......you get the idea.


40 Days of Purpose: Day 8

You were planned for God's pleasure.

*Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship. Worship is a lifestyle.

*Worship is not for your benefit.

*Worship is not a part of your life; it is your life. Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory and pleasure of God.

*This is what real worship is all about-falling in love with Jesus.

Question to Consider: What common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly to Jesus?

Taking care of household chores (laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc.). There are days when I really resent having to pick up the same mess one more time or wash the same clothes or cook another dinner that's not going to please everyone or feeling like the hired help while Tim and the kids sit and watch television. If I try to think about doing it for Jesus I should be able to do it with a much better attitude. How could I not be happy about serving Jesus? A better attitude would definitely bring more pleasure to God than the one I often have now.



posted by Stacy at 9:48 AM

Friday, April 30, 2004

 
40 Days of Purpose: Day 6

Life on earth is a temporary assignment.

-In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life. We're not completely happy here because we're not supposed to be.

-In God's eyes the greatest heros of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity.

Question to Consider: How should the fact that life on earth is just a temporary assignment change the way I am living right now?

That's an easy one. I can really get bogged down in worries. If this life is temporary, then most of the stuff I worry about doesn't really matter. I should let go of the worry and trust God to provide what is needed in this life for me to be able to concentrate more fully on him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tonight is the first time our Purpose Driven Life group will meet. I'm excited about going and hearing what God's been saying to the others this week. It looks like it's going to be a really busy weekend for us so I'm not sure I will have time to post on the next two days readings. If not, I'll catch up on Monday.

It wasn't a hose on the car. It's something with the fan, but if I go slow and easy I can at least drive it back and forth to work today. That is a blessing! Tim is calling about the part.

Megan is off to Hershey, PA with Tim's sister's family this weekend. I don't think she could possibly be any more excited. I hope they have good weather and tons of fun. I will miss the little monkey.

Matt passed on the trip to stay home and shop for a tux for the prom. In remembering how much fun that was last year, I'd ask that you please say a prayer for me as I set out with him and THE DATE (just a friend, thank you) tomorrow morning. For some reason she doesn't trust Matt not to pick out something hideous. Could it be because next year he and a friend plan to duplicate the tuxes from Dumb and Dumber?

Saturday night the drivers I work with are having a "Spring Fling." Dinner, dancing......and unfortunately a lot of drinking. The crowd I hang out with doesn't do much of that, thank goodness, but we'll still have to bear the behavior of the rest. At least they are all happy drunks with no tendencies to violence.

Sunday we're heading to our friends Dave and Helen's house for a cookout after church. Matt is going with us. Their daughter will be thrilled. She has a major crush on him. Matt will take it with good humor, but he has no interest. From there we will have to drive to Tim's sister's place and pick up Megan.

posted by Stacy at 11:24 AM

 

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