Category Archives: Stress

Sunshine Go Away Today….

Just a moment of insight from my morning commute. The vocal melodies of Jonathan Edwards comes on WOW 105.3, and the last verse of the song stood out to me more than usual:

“Sunshine come on back another day

I promise you I’ll be singin’

This whole world, she’s gonna turn around

Brand new bells will be ringin'”

What does that make you think of?

Heh. Well, I don’t really want the sunshine to go away (I waited all through winter just to SEE it…), but sometimes I do feel the sentiments of this song, where “working starts to make me wonder where/fruits of what I do are goin'” or other things that make me think this world is on it’s way to an idiocracy and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. And ya know what, that’s the way it’s been told.

2 Timothy tells us there will be terrible times in the last days. 2 Peter tells us that there will be abundant “scoffers”. Matthew 24 tells us there will be wars, rumors of wars, nations against nations, and not to mention earthquakes and famines (or recessions? ;-)). And there are many many more references.

Either way, things are going to get seemingly hopeless and just downright illogical and fruitless. BUT, we are called to have hope anyway, and LIVE like we have hope! After all,

This whole world, she’s gonna turn around

(because God will be doing some redeeming!)

And a brand new song we’ll be singin’ 🙂

(Rev 5 and 14)

So hey, listen to Jonathan, and especially the Bible. It stinketh right now, but it’s all gonna be all right. (Rev 21:4)

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Filed under Daily Normalcy, Music, Spiritual Application, State of the world, Stress

Hmmm. I must be getting old.

Admist the swirling maelstrom that has become my life in the last few months, I have had a few moments of peace. During those bits of time, I have composed maybe 6 essays in my head, outlined about half of a potential sermon, thought about a surefire entrepreneurial business strategy, and won some heated arguments against my own conceptions of the anti-me. At these little times in my life, I feel pretty brilliant. I feel blessed with wisdom. I feel spiritually gifted and inspired to share this “gift” with others and maybe try my hand at saving the world.

So I remembered that I haven’t posted a blog since maybe November? I thought, during one of these times of stillness, “well now I have plenty of ideas, all laid out neatly. I just need to sit and write them down.”

Well, here I am sitting and writing….but not remember what it was that I intended to sit and write! I don’t even remember half of the good ideas that I had during my quiet times of sitting in a waiting room, lying awake at night or in a long car ride.

Then I realized I’ve been forgetting a lot of things. I almost forgot my own birthday a couple weeks ago. Thankfully I have a husband who remembered for me. And I’ve forgotten some very simple things that seem quite foolish:

I almost left for work still wearing my slippers;

I was carrying a book, a glass, and a carton of grape juice. Intending to put down the book to pour the grape juice in the glass, I instead set down the glass and nearly poured grape juice all over my book;

I almost left my two month old son in the car, but still took his diaper bag, while about to enter the grocery store. I intended to leave the diaper bag, since it was a quick trip, and instead just take him.

I was perplexed on how to retrieve the power cord for my laptop since the large adapter part wouldn’t fit through the small slit between the desk and the wall. My esteemed colleague told me to just pull the small end of the cord down through the slit and take it out that way. Oh yeah…

And there are many more of these instances, probably more than 3 or 4 daily, that really make me look like a capable human being. Heh, in my observations of human behavior, if someone that was over 50 made these claims, they would just say “well, I’m getting old.” and shrug it off. But if I’m making these same bumbles, and I’m only freshly 27, do I not get to have an excuse? Uh-oh….this must be how I really am!

Oh well. That isn’t the point of this composition. Really, I sat down just to see if all these ideas would come back to me. Or perhaps I just needed a written record to document that I have had ideas, I just didn’t get them down in time.

Hopefully they’ll come back to me. If they really were going to help me save the world, I’m sure they’ll pop up again in another moment of sudden insight. At least, as long as I don’t descend into senility too rapidly.

My back hurts.

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First we had the X-Games, now we have X-logic?

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in arguments. Not just with Christians, but with most people in general. Each side seems to stand on either side of the see-saw, and instead of leveling things out, the see-saw just goes up and down. Here’s an example:

Guy 1: “Maybe we shouldn’t be so strict on our office dress code.”

Guy 2: “So you think our employees should just be able to wear whatever they want? That’s so unprofessional! We have to look our best.”

Ok, do you really think that Guy 1 made that suggestion with the intent of employees “wearing whatever they want?” Most likely, Guy 1  just wanted to be able to forgo his suit coat after office arrival, or lessen the requirement to wear a tie every single day. But, as is the trend I see these days, the other arguer seems to assume the extreme.

Here’s another example:

Guy 1: “Some day, I would like to play my instrument for church. My instrument is percussion.”

Guy 2: “So you think we should just rock out for our worship services? That’s so irreverent! Church should not turn into a rock concert.”

I know, I went there. Truthfully, I don’t even like talking about worship styles because it never seems to go anywhere and there are so many more important things to tackle, but it just fit here. I myself am a percussionist, so I can relate. Now I’m not actively trying to get my drumset into the sanctuary (even though sometimes the organ does need a little foundational rhythm so we can all hit the same note at the same time!), but if I happen to be talking to someone who is against drums in church, they assume that since I play drums, I would automatically want to play super loud and be the center of attention and try to turn the worship service into a contemporary Christian concert. Personally, I would rather hide in an orchestra pit and pound out a no-frills, fundamental meter to guide other instruments (as is the primary purpose of percussion). I think every instrument should blend together to make a balanced, harmonious sound, not necessarily have one ring out over everyone else. But often times, the extreme is assumed just because of the word “drums.”

Here’s another example I heard just before the election:

Woman 1: “I think I might vote for Obama.”

Guy 1: “You would vote for someone who wants to kill babies? That’s very unlike you! Don’t you realize he’s pro-choice?”

In this conversation, Guy 1 seems to think that if you aren’t pro-life, you are pro-abortion. No, pro-choice doesn’t mean you like abortion. That seems obvious. But I’ve heard this kind of argument even before this conversation. I’ve heard this kind of “Xtreme” Logic in waaaay too many places. It drives me batty. Have we lost our common sense?

Xtreme logic seems to be infiltrating our thought processes, whether it is about politics, personal opinions, or religion. Where did this come from? Why do we tend to assume the worst, way on the other end of the spectrum, if someone disagrees with us? Why do we take things so personally? Why do we get so defensive? Why are we so paranoid?

I hope we don’t forget that our God is a God of balance. We are advised in Ecclesiastes 7:18 that “18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.”

We should always stand our ground on our beliefs, but let’s also try to avoid this “X-logic.”

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One Track Mind

Usually this term is used to describe someone who is overly focused, and can’t seem to think about anything else but their subject of choice. Quite often it has a negative connotation.

Then, the other day, I was telling Van about my ineffective multi-tasking. (He made the mistake of asking me, “how are you doing,” forgetting that I answer honestly and fully, to a fault). I was venting about how I had about six things to do that day, and I was trying to do them all at once, but nothing was getting done because I kept switching between them and then would lose my focus and, though I felt tackling them all at once like that would get things done faster, was actually slowing myself down.

Van seems to have something for everything. “Ya know, isn’t that interesting how we’re wired that way? It’s like a failsafe. The verse in Psalm 119, “Thy word I hath hidden in my heart, so I won’t sin against Thee…” So if we’re always meditating on Scripture, we won’t sin against Him because we can really only think of one thing at a time.” So we discussed, over my cubicle wall, that even though the one-track-mind is making my multi-tasking nearly impossible, I can turn that very same dis-ability into an ability to keep my mind focused on the things of God. Sweet deal.

And it’s so true! That’s the only way I’ve kept myself in line. And the times I haven’t been in line lately, I have certainly not had prayer or other biblical principles on the brain.

And during this re-directing of my mind, I have found another very favorite chunk of verses: Colossians 3: 1-17. For the purpose of this point, I will highlight the way these verses correlate with the Psalm 119 topic:

“Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry… Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

And of course, the ever-so-applicable Philippians 4:8: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Our minds are powerful weapons of control. Given as a gift from God, with free will and colorful, unique personalities…

…and just like any great Superpower, they can be used for good, or for evil.

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Things People Do that Don’t Make Any Sense

So I was on my way back to the office from grabbing lunch, and I was just crossing 56th street on Pine Lake. I was in the right lane and someone was slightly behind me in the left lane. I noticed my lane was about to give out and merge, so I clicked on my blinker and was going to wait for that car to pass me, but then I noticed it wasn’t going fast enough so I started to merge over left. As I started to do that, the car in the left lane then decided to speed up to pass me (barely) so I wouldn’t end up in front of them in the left lane. I was only miffed because I was already changing lanes and had to swerve back to avoid getting swiped, but otherwise, it didn’t waste me any time. I slowed down slightly to avoid hitting them, but nothing too significant. The other car, however, probably wasted some gas by flooring the  pedal to make sure that no one else could ever be in front of them, plus the light in front of us was yellow at that point so we’d have to stop and relinquish our speed boosts anyway (Oh, and there were absolutely no other cars on that road than us two, so no real gain in getting in front of me). So really, that didn’t make much sense.

The following day, I was on the way home from work and was first in line at the red light. The light turned green and I started slowly accelerating. The guy behind me didn’t think I was accelerating fast enough, so he made a big showy effort of swerving around me to continue his jackrabbit start. Then, about 30 seconds later, I changed lanes around him because I had cruise control on a higher top speed than he was going. So really, his quick start didn’t gain him anything. But this is the kicker. The next stoplight, since I passed him, I was in front again. At the turning of the green, the exact same thing happened. He thought I was starting too slow, so he steps on the gas and swerves around in front. Then 30 seconds later I leisurely pass him again. (Whether or not I was slightly over the speed limit is not the issue here. And it wasn’t more than 5 over anyway…) That driver’s actions didn’t make any sense, really.

And I’ll always remember my sighting of a BICYCLE with spinning rims. And before that it was a MINIVAN with spinning rims. Sheesh. I just ask…WHY?

Ok, the point here is not that I make sense and everyone else doesn’t. Though I try to make myself come out smelling like a rose in those two anecdotes, I know that’s not the case. I do way too many things that don’t make any sense. I’ve been both of those drivers before. I’ve bought “blingy” things that had no real value. I’ve hurried through things only to sit and wait. I’ve stressed and worried about things only to realize they weren’t that big of a deal and I could have figured that out if I’d have just put it in perspective. Tomorrow really does worry about itself. Things really will be ok, even if they aren’t for a bit. Oh look, I’m coming back around to Ecclesiastes again. It’s all vanity! Again, I’m so glad that the stuff that really matters is finding joy in your toil, enjoying what you’ve been given, and living in the moment. Here’s to now, and all the vain things I don’t have to worry about right now. They don’t make any sense, anyway.

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Child of Rhythm: Of high tides, snare drums and puzzle pieces

A stream of consciousness from today:

On my way home from work, an advertisement on the radio had crashing waves as a sound effect for advertising a summer getaway travel package that you could book from a local travel agent. Though the commercials were soon over and there was a song playing, the sound of crashing waves kept going through my head. It had triggered a memory.

When I was a kid, my family took a few trips to Hawaii since my grandparents had a timeshare. For the latest trip, I was in high school and was concerned more about getting a good tan than I was about many of the touristy activities we were going to do. But on a Sabbath morning, when we went down to the beach for a bit,  I decided to make my towel-dwelling, ray-soaking self a bit more productive than just absorbing sunlight. I had a good 20 minute prayer (and for an attention-deficit high-schooler, that was pretty good). I remember praying for God to make my hair not frizz so much, and other silly things, but it turned into a rather profound conversation with my Creator. And the crashing waves and soft breeze just made it all the more meaningful and memorable.

I remember talking to God about how I thought it was cool that he put rhythm into everything. Right before I prayed, I counted the seconds between wave crashes. I started moving my toes to the “beat” that the waves were creating. I remember the timing between the waves slowly getting longer and longer as the shoreline moved with the tide. I started singing songs in my head along with the waves. And I remember thinking that God knew what he was doing when he put in me the desire to be a musician and a dancer, and an appreciator of nature.

Pulling from the theme of the previous blog, I really like how God finds really clever ways to remind us that we are who we are for a reason. That I can take comfort and joy in the simple fact that I am me. Even with all the silly things that I almost hate about myself, I would never give them up if it meant my identity would change. The fact that I cry at most movies, that I laugh a bit too loud, that I sometimes speak out of turn, that sometimes I like people a little too much that I overwhelm them; all those things have been annoyances to me in my life, and yet when I think about what I would be without them, I slowly begin to embrace them. And when I still get a little bit down about the things that aren’t ideal about myself, God reminds me of crashing waves, tapping toes, and warm sunlight, and the acceptance of who I am and what I am moved to do.

Predominantly, I’ve found that most of my life revolves around people and/or rhythm. I’m very shy and introverted, but I love connecting with people and each person I meet immediately becomes meaningful to me. I remember names and faces very well, and my biggest social fault lies on the end of the spectrum that makes me appear nosy. On the rhythm side, I’m always tapping on something, always finding connections in the sounds around me. I remember in 8th grade, my science teacher called me a “child of rhythm” after the end-of-the-year band concert, when I had my first solo snare drum sequence. I find that when NPR plays classical music over the lunch hour, I seem to want to drive faster during heavy snare drum and crash cymbal choruses. Sometimes I think I should have been a choir or band conductor because those movements are just so natural to me (but I’m too afraid of being in front of a lot of people). And there is no morning pick-me-up like my 5:45am jazzercise class, the only exercise routine I have been able to stick with for over a year.

Back on the relational end, I also think of myself in terms of my relationship to my husband. He is all verbal (he is an English teacher, so I guess that comes with the territory), and I am all nonverbal. The messages we receive from each other or people around us vary so much when we both tell our side of things. But once we figured out how each other worked, it’s amazingly perfect the way we complement each other.

Life is a big jigsaw puzzle and we are all shaped differently, and we all fit together differently. (even more on this topic later). I have come to like the shape of my puzzle piece, and the way it fits with others. Thank you, God, for opening the puzzle box, shaking it up, and letting each piece discover where they fit.

(Random though these thoughts are, pieces of these concepts float to my consciousness just about daily. Maybe it is God reminding me that “I am who I am” (go Popeye!) and that I better be true to myself.)

“All together now—applause for God! Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise.” (Psalm 66:1, The Message Bible)

“… May God, our very own God, continue to be with us just as he was with our ancestors—may he never give up and walk out on us. May he keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors” ( Kings 8:56, The Message Bible)

“…The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?’…(Jeremiah 5:20, The Message Bible)

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Mine! Mine mine mine!

I had a busy week. What else is new?

It was a week filled with deadlines and meetings, oh and I turned a year older. (I shall miss ol’ 25, it was such a nice number). Nothing was going as planned, the weather was terrible, I didn’t have time to get my own home in order, and after I finished one thing on one day, it was another thing for the next day to worry about.

But, I was (and still am) ok. Every night, as we succumbed to our fatigue and got in bed, the cats would jump up and try to find a settling spot. I would think about my messy house as I was about to turn off the lamp on the nightstand, but then another overwhelming thought took over: My house may be messy, but it’s mine. My life may be busy, but it’s mine. I’m glad I have a life and a house, with a great husband and cute kitties. I don’t think I’d want another house, another life, another job or another social circle because, well, it wouldn’t be mine.

My dad told me that “true joy is simply knowing that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.” That is why you can have joy in your life, even if you aren’t currently “happy” or in a good mood. I guess I’m glad that I can claim that joy.

Ecclesiastes is becoming a theme here. I didn’t plan it that way, but it keeps coming up. Whatever the case may be,  I’m glad that most of the things that get all the attention in this world are fleeting and “a chasing after the wind.” Because if they really did matter, then I’d have to care! In the long run, though sometimes I wish for some of the things labeled as “vanity,” I’d just rather sit back with what is “mine” and be glad that God gave it to me.

My next project for myself, however, will definitely be Matthew 6.

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