Monday, January 26, 2015

Undercurrents of Wonderfulness

Have you ever felt like something big was going to happen, but it just wasn't there yet? Like there was an underground torrent of good stuff under your feet- you can feel the vibrations of something powerful working in the background, but you couldn't put your finger on what it was or what was going to happen?

Oh yeah baby, that's an immensely awesome feeling- and a scary one too!

When God decides to do something in your life, He never does it in a small way- and that way can be a roller coaster ride- both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

I feel a lot of big life changes are going to happen soon- and I don't know whether to pack the duct tape or the parachute!

What I do know is this- when it happens, I'm going to be sloppin' over with God's wonderfulness.

It feels like Christmas when you know that great, big package with the fancy paper and ribbons has your name on it- but you can't open it yet. AARGH!

I hope that you're feeling this too- the question is, what can we do about it without jumping out of our own skin in frustration?

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, grin your face off, and thank Him for doing all of this Great Stuff He's about to do, and then go out into the world and act as if He's already done it.

Smile like you've already been blessed, Talk with others and use that excitement to make people excited too. Do like that song Happy says- Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof- act like there's no limits to being blessed- and when God is in charge, there isn't!

I'm doing that in this blog, and with anyone I meet via the Internet or the real world. I'm going to celebrate the undercurrents of wonderfulness God has planned- because when it comes, it's going to be awesome!

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Years Evolutions

Yes, you read that right- evolutions, not resolutions. Because resolutions don't stick, while evolutions do.

Not because it's the New Year either- it's because I'm finally ready to get serious, and my nutritionist appointment was in early January. So there.

For details, I have restarted my weight loss blog I'm Fighting Fat. It's also filled with trials and errors from the past, so  learn from it what you will. But I'm starting over- one more time and I wanted to share my journeys with you.

I just acquired an exercise bike, because exercising out in the cold with osteoarthritis is a bad idea. If I don't exercise, I don't work those joints, I don't increase mobility, and eventually I'll freeze up like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Not good if I plan to be remotely active in the spring.
To compromise, I got a stationary bike- one I can use while I watch videos. That will practically guarantee that I do 20-30 minutes of my require exercises each day. Especially when it's too rainy/icy/snowy/hot/humid/whatever outside.

No excuses this time!

This also gives me the chance to do a little redecorating. The living room is a feng-shui disaster, and is very, very cluttered. Now I have an exercise bike on top of that, so a little revamping is in order- and I get to have the men in the family move stuff while my daughter and I make thinks shiny- that's always a good thing.

I'm also making other changes. I'm working on formatting a book for self-publication as well as getting one published through an indie publisher (hopefully). The ideal would be to get both out this year, but I'll settle for at least one. And you, Dear Readers, will be the first to know when I do!

I'd joined Toastmasters to learn public speaking, but I'm really not enjoying the meetings. I thought it would be more like a class, but it seems as if there's more fumbling around on my own than anything being taught, so I might find a better way to learn this skill. Besides, I don't like the manuals that tell you you have to achieve all these goals (like be a timekeeper, or an "um" counter) in order to move on. I just don't learn that way.

Crafting is still in the mix- I think I'd go nuts if I didn't have a creative outlet using my hands! My plan is to work all year on finishing UFO's (UnFinished Objects) and sell them at craft shows during the college and Christmas seasons. In the meantime, I'll put some handcrafted goodies up on my Etsy store

I hope to get my joints limber enough to get my garden restarted in the spring. We had a bumper crop of tomatoes last year (I made some great homemade sauce!), but it played havoc on my joints because I'd planted a little too much and the plants grew into tomatozillas that I needed a scythe just to get to the shiny red produce. Better planning, better planting and better use of small garden space is key, because we don't have time to do the community garden this year.
I'm plating a lot more herbs too. I've been "going herbal" for about a year now, and found they make really good remedies for everyday afflictions- though I won't go all out and get a beehive for fresh honey- I need an excuse to go to Lancaster, after all!

Lots of plans. Lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I just hope I can pull all of this off! But to be honest, I'll be happy to pull most of this off. Especially the book- I really want that to happen this year!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Do Dreams Equal God's Will?

My husband and I have a dream. 

One day, we'd really love to have a Bed and Breakfast, or an Inn with a little cafe attached. I even have a name for it, what kind of theme I want for each bedroom, and even what the cafe decor would be like. We'd even have a large space for classes, meetings, or small conferences.
The location would be somewhere in the scenic countryside, easy access to highways but far enough away from everything that you can enjoy nature. In fact, I want enough acreage to grow our own food and have a path for at least a one-mile round-trip nature walk, complete with benches in secluded spots for romance and bird-watching.
And at least one gazebo. Gotta have one of those.

It's all perfectly formed in my head. He would run the cafe, and I would run the Inn. Shangri-la, here we come!

But is that what God wants for us?

We gave the idea serious thought a few years back before we moved here. Church life was becoming stagnant, and we were at a loss as to where to go. We found large acreage here and there- once there was even a plot about eight hours from here- but nothing ever worked out. We either couldn't get the financing or it would be too far for him to commute to work and back. Yes- he still needed to work before our plan came to fruition.

Then God stepped in and monkey-wrenched our plans. We weren't meant to be in an inn in the boonies. Not yet. He wanted us just a little further down the road than we were, slapping us right in the middle of a city community.

And we love it!

We have a new church we love dearly. The church is community oriented. I'm involved with ministry and community events, and so are my husband and kids. My husband became a deacon in this church a few years after we joined, and it was the best thing that could've happened for us and the community.

Are we giving up the dream? Nope. We might get there, we might not. The dream might even change. The point is that we are letting God show us the path before we start looking at the maps and making plans, because He's probably going to change them anyway. It would be great to have our own inn (at least in my mind) but when God tells you to be somewhere else, you go. He has a way of putting you in places you need to be, whether or not you think differently. 

It's a God thing. Annoying sometimes, I know. I'm like a kid who never ate carrots before and refuses to eat them because they're different. Then He makes me eat them and I like them. Dagnabbit.

I don't know where we'll be in the next few years, but it will be somewhere that's hospitality oriented. That hasn't changed, and we're good at it. And if He offers me something different again, I'll give the thing a new taste, whatever it is. Because God is going to make it good, no matter what!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Forget What I Forgot!

Good grief- is this Tuesday?

Did you ever forget something so bad that you never even realized you forgot it until the next morning?

Like that doctor's appointment, or you were supposed to take the car in for repairs....or you forgot to make your weekly blog post.

Oh yeah, it happened. The worst part is I didn't even remember to post until now, and it's almost dinner time!

*swats forehead*

I think my brain is shutting down. How could I possibly forget to make a blog post? I've done this for years without missing a beat! In fact, the only times I've missed it was due to being too sick to blink, or my computer crashed. That's it.

Even as I write this, my heart is pounding. What could possibly be wrong with me that I forgot such an important weekly routine?

The holidays are over. The decorations are put away. My birthday was celebrated (awesomely so- I'll tell you in my next post- probably a month from now...sheesh!). Everything is now back to its normal, chaotic state. 

Granted, I have a slight cold and I have a lot of writing deadlines, including Ruby for Women magazine's articles, columns, interviews and puzzles that are due, I got a one-time writing gig that actually pays good fundage, and I just started formatting my book for self-publication, and my daughter had been sick, and I'm making dinner, and the window guy is coming for an estimate, and, and, and....

Oh. That is a lot to be remembering, isn't it? Maybe my brain isn't dying after all. It just needs a nap.

I sincerely hope you're not having this kind of experience. But if you are, know that I'm there for you to assure you that you aren't losing your mind. We forget things because we are multi-taskers. Even a juggler can handle so many objects, and it's like we're juggling a bowling ball, twenty pineapples and a chainsaw sometimes. 

If you're like me, here's what you have to do:

Take a deep breath, forgive yourself and move on. Then make that blog post!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Plan Breaker

Have you ever watched the movie Evan Almighty, when Evan tells God he has all of these plans, and God just looks at him amused, then cracks up, laughing hysterically?

Right now, God is cracking up- at me.

The car died. There is no money for a new one. I really liked our Hyundais Elantra GLS wagon. It was like a purse on wheels. We took nine day camping trips up the mountains in that thing and managed to pack it to the brim with what we needed. I wondered of it used to be a clown car. But they don't make them anymore, and there was nothing else I really wanted- sedans don't have big enough trunks for a nine day camping trip, after all. 

Normally, I'd be a raving maniacal mess right now. But god gave me peace over it, so I thought that was the end of His blessing, and started making plans for living a carless life. 

I began looking forward to it, because we could take what we'd put into the car and put it into paying off debt and maybe have a little fun with the "extra". Granted, there wasn't going to be a lot of "extra", but if I pinched enough pennies, we could splurge a little once a month at the bookstore or going out to eat.

This is when God started laughing.

I started to get blessings. Little blessings- some of my crafted items had sold on Etsy. Someone is commissioning me to create a medley of personalized parody songs for her wedding. Other possibilities have been popping up here and there for expanding my humor ministry. Then someone gave us an unexpected gift to help towards the purchase of a new car.

After hugging them to death, I set the funds aside and still made my plans. 

I think God like messing our plans up, just to remind us that we aren't the ones in charge- He is. And when He messes up our plans, it's always to do something better for us. But sometimes we forget that or just don't see it. Like me. The more I think I'm in charge, the more God laughs and messes up anything I have supposedly set in stone, like this current situation.

We got a phone call.

It was from a dealership. Apparently my husband had contacted them about a vehicle he had only mentioned to me in passing, and I dismissed it because there was no way the dealership was insane enough to finance us. We were just keeping our heads above water as it is!

But after a few calls back and forth, we got the call. Financing was approved. We can go see and get the vehicle at any time. 

What? 

My husband grinned like a Cheshire cat. I could hear God laughing all the way from heaven. And my plans were completely useless. By the time all the financing is done, this should only cost about twenty dollars more than our old Hyundai. And we're not getting a car- this sucker is a mini van! We plan on checking out our used Hyundai Entourage mini van on Wednesday (because my husband is doing overtime for the next two days), but we hope to be the new owners as soon as we see it.

The Plan Breaker was at it again- messing with all my nice and neat plans. And if He's going to mess with my plans by letting us get this van, then He must also have a way to help pay for it. So I'm not going to worry and just accept the blessings He chooses to give me. (okay, so I won't worry as much because I'm really good at not listening to Him and worrying, but you get the idea.)

Though I'm still going to plan on how to use that mini van!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Devil Wears Cleats

This has been a rough month.

It's bad enough that the budget in our household is tighter than an acrobats undies during the Christmas season, but with all the other wonderfulness on top of it ("wonderfulness" being the epitome of irony at this point), I have to admit- the Devil is wearing cleats and jumping on us with both feet.

In the beginning of the month, my husband had a bout of severe exhaustion and was out of work for almost a week. So when the plant shuts down between Christmas and New Years, he has to work part of the week because he used all of his allotted days off. 
I had pain in my right shoulder for a long time and was told over and over again that it was tendinitis, so no lifting for me with that arm, lest I rip something important and need surgery. So I overcompensated and wound up spraining my left forearm. When the MRI results came back for my shoulder, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. So I didn't need to overdo my ding-dang forearm. It was going to hurt anyway, dagnabbit.

It wasn't all bad, however. We prayed for blessings and got them- God let the money stretch so I found some great stuff for Christmas at the thrift store, and then my husband was getting a Christmas bonus! YAY!

The next day, the car died.

When I say died, I mean died. Dead as a doornail. Kaput. The timing belt broke and decided to shred the engine. The family that does all the running-around for ministry was now stuck. How was my husband going to get to work? How would we go food shopping?

I know I prayed to God about the need to walk more, but this was not what I meant!

Normally news like this would send me into a panic. Yes, I only got the car once a week to go food shopping, but this was our only car, and we've been living paycheck to paycheck- so it's not like we can just go to Bubba's Auto Mart and pick up a couple more Hyundais.
That night, I was lying next to my husband and something occurred to me. "I don't remember when the Devil had jumped on us so fast after being blessed," I said. "We must be doing something really right."
He chuckled and held me closer. 
I sighed. "Remember that movie, Facing the Giants? The guy said 'in the good times I will praise You, and in the bad times I will still praise You.' Let's do that right now."
And we did. We praised Him for the peace we felt in this mess, We praised Him for the blessings of being able to work during the holidays when the company could have said "No" and suffer the loss of income, We praised Him for the Christmas bonus, the fact that I got the gifts before the car died, and all of the little things God does for us each day.

Then we went to sleep.

I'm going to confess something. As true as this story is, That doesn't mean I'm happy about it. I'm so not happy. I really liked that little Hyundai wagon, and they don't make them anymore. I run a bread ministry and I'm the main driver for picking up the bread. Our church and the local families need that bread. I cried when I was praising Him because my husband works so hard just to keep our heads above water and doesn't need anymore stress. 

I'm hating the situation, but I'm not going to hate God for it. The Devil would be dancing in his cleats if I did that. I'm not a perfect Christian- I'm not even a fantastic Christian. I'm just your semi-normal calorically-challenged individual that loves God and needs Him on a daily basis, or I'll fall apart. 

This has been a rough month. If I wasn't leaning on God, I'd be a hot mess right now. Trust me.

When I told a family member about my situation, she asked "Are you sure you're doing things right? Maybe God is telling you you're doing things wrong by letting all this bad stuff happen."
I gave that some thought. Was he trying to punish us? I didn't think so- if He'd wanted to punish us, why were we feeling so peaceful, like God was smiling on us? I think if God was upset with us, we'd know it- big time.

There's good news though! When my church heard about all this, someone lent us his truck for the weekend so we could get our food shopping done. Because of my husband's bonus we could buy enough food for several weeks (since we don't know when we can go shopping again). People offered to do some bread pick-ups for my ministry until we can wrangle up another vehicle- and my husband found that he can get a ride to work and take a train home, so he can work those overtime hours during the holiday.

The devil wear cleats. But God's cleats are bigger and have the devil's name on each spike.

God is indeed good. And I praise Him for it.

Happy Birthday Jesus! And thank You for all the gifts!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Ham Radio

I was invited to be a guest on an internet radio station.

At first I was terrified. Who was I to be on a radio interview? I've never done a lick of stand-up, no TV commercials, and haven't even made it on to the news. But he wanted me on his show anyway, because he thought I was funny. What I really am is a complete and total ham- and he wanted me to be funny on the air.

Egad, the pressure!

He listed me a a comedienne- Me? Oh, no, no, no..I'm a humorist. Comediennes need to be funny every few seconds, while I'm a storyteller- I need a few minutes to be funny. But he insisted that i would be good enough for his show. 

I studied on how to be a good radio guest. I learned tips and tricks to keeping up the conversation. I learned what not to do, like say a lot of "ums" and leave dead air by pausing too much before answering. I was ready. When the time came, I called in.

At first I thought we had a bad connection, but the hosts mike was on the fritz and only worked sporadically. The co-host was good to go though, and all I had to do was repeat what I though the host said, just to make sure I and the listeners understood before I answered. He sounded like he was stuttering, but we managed to muddle through 40 minutes of the hour-long program. I thought I did only a few "ums" but all in all, I was doing well. I even spouted a poem I'd written called "Ode to Baldness".

Then the air went dead.

"John?" I paused a moment. 
"John?" 
Nothing. I tried to buy time. "Come on, John, the poem wasn't that bad was it?"
Silence. 
Nothing from the co-host either. Egad.
"Okay folks, I think we lost John."
Then the co-host popped on "I'm here!"
"Aaugh! I think I killed John!" (unfortunately this part was edited out of the broadcast)
"Nah, his mike probably died." the co-host replied. Then we continued the show.

John popped on a few minutes later- he had to call in on his own show! But at least his voice was clear now, and we completed the interview, having some laughs along that way.

Apparently he liked what I did, because he suggested I start my own radio show. "What would you call it?" He asked.
"Oh that's easy- Footprints in the Mud!" I replied.
"I'm going to keep egging you on to do this Beth", he said. "You have a great radio voice."
I, being the ham I am, lowered my tone a few notes, doing my best "announcer" persona, "Why, thank you, John!"

After we finished the show and I hung up, I gave his suggestion some thought. Could I be a radio show host? The idea has merit.

Though if I did, they might have to redefine the definition of "Ham" radio!

What do you think?

Here is a link to the show if you want to listen : http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/7/093/show_7093221.mp3