Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Little Piece of Eden

Different views of my new little piece of paradise, Isla Bonita which is a small island off of Island of Eden. I wasn't sure what it would become when I first began its design but eventually it came together. It is a place for relaxation, meditation, prayer, friendship...we all need our own space for things like that. As time goes by I will enjoy it more, I'm sure. For me, that's what Second Life is all about: creating, enjoying and communing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


There is a popular prediction right now that pinpoints December 21, 2012 for the End of Times to happen. Apparently many major ancient prophecies stop at this date. Even the Mayan calendar stops there. Well, ok maybe it will be Doomsday but how about considering other options.

What if the guy who chisled the dates into the Mayan stone calendar got fired before he could finish? What if he got tired of the whole thing and quit? What if he got his bosses mad and they ripped his heart out as punishment (hey, didn't you see Apocolypto?) Or what if he keeled over from a heart attack? Geesh and then 2,000 years later we're putting more meaning into it than really what happened.

Ok but now go with the idea that somehow the Mayans tapped into a crystal ball. December 21, 2012 is now a few days less than 4.5 years from now. I don't know about you but that's enough to give me pause. I mean, I haven't visited Stonehenge, the Northwest, taken an Alaskan cruise or danced at the Palms in Vegas yet. I have things to do and places to see and now I have a Doomsday Clock ticking down.

Do I believe it? Nah. Do I care? Not really. All kidding aside, sure I'd love to fulfill everything on my life's wish list but I'm fine with whatever happens. So, if the world ended tomorrow, whether naturally, by man made stupidity or if Jesus makes his second appearance, I'm ok with it because my soul is not going to be left behind no matter how it happens.

So, bring on whatever is supposed to happen December 21, 2012. I'm ready.

But you know what, I think I'll buy my Christmas presents that year on December 22 just in case...but uh oh, just had a thought--what if that Mayan chisler was dyslexic! 12/12/12?

Definitely something to think about...

Monday, June 23, 2008


I can be the Queen of De-Nial. Case in point are the gas prices. Instead of filling up, I used to plunk down 20 bucks at a time (now increased to 35) because it didn't seem to be "as bad" as it really was. Well, today I decided to bite the bullet. It was time to face things head on!

I heard myself say (through clinched teeth), "Fill'r up with regular, please." The gas station attendant looked at me with what I thought was controlled horror. I quickly looked away and applied some lipstick while peering in my driver's side makeup mirror. As long as I didn't look nor pay close attention I figured it wouldn't be so bad...right?

Wrong! I nearly fainted when he annouced, "$68.53 ma'am." He must've seen the color drain from my face because he pointed to the gallons used as if to defend himself. I was speechless. Now, I know it probably seems silly and a bit naive but honestly, putting in a few dollars here and there really truly did seem to add up to less. Ok, in my world it did.

That got me to wondering how often we pull the switcheroo in our lives to fool ourselves into thinking something isn't quite as bad as it is? Even worse, how often we refuse to fill up our emotional and spiritual "tanks" on a regular basis because we might have to pay up.

To be a Christian means we are supposed to spread the good news. Not only on Sundays, not only to each other---but to everyone, everywhere, all the time no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. But to successfully serve the Lord we must also work on our own walk--all the time. That means reading, studying, joining ministries, belonging to groups and committing ourselves to getting a full tank of spiritual gas.

Yea, it's a lot easier on us if we just put in little chunks of spiritual gas, like just going to church on Sundays and then not doing much for the Lord for the rest of the week. Wait, you say, I did my bit for workship! I came, I listened and did my duty what more do you want from me? Well, my brother and sister, you received about a 1/4 tank or so of Holy Fire. There is so much more to being a Christian than just going to church!

But, you have to first ask yourself: do you want a full tank of Jesus or 1/2? Are you willing to pay the full price or do you just want to spend some change on Him? It's your soul, your salvation. Still, you have to ask yourself what the cost will be if you don't pay the full price and fill yourself up?

C'mon don't you want more? What will you ask for the next time you pull up at the well? Will you say, "Fill me up, Lord?" Or will you drive away with a half full tank?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lament for the Old Neighborhood

Years ago when the kids were little and my life was a blur of soccer games, tournaments, little league, ballet and the like we used to always stop by at our favorite neighborhood pizzeria/restaurant afterwards. Sweaty and still in uniform, my son would gobble down pizza like it was manna from heaven. We did this for years---years!

You think I'm exaggerating? We started on this whirlwind journey when my son was in first grade, barely coordinated enough to kick or hit a ball much less get it in a net or blast a home run and we ended with the travel-team circuit with an olympic class ranking at age 12. It only "ended" because of problems with ankle growth plates and even then it was a hiatus. As soon as we got the green light, add high school level baseball, football and karate to the mix. If you think I can remember 1987-1998 you've got to be kidding! Anyway, I digress...

Basically the pizzeria guys watched my kids grow up. By the time we moved my son had graduated high school and his sister was ready to go in. It was with a sad heart we moved to a town that did not have a pizza that rivaled the one we coveted. It was only 6 miles away but you'd think we had moved to Siberia. But, soon we found a substitute. Yea, it wasn't as good but the pizza guys were very friendly and made us feel at welcomed. Son goes off to college and now our lives have morphed into an every-other-weekend thing with daughter's dad.

I hadn't been alone since...well, since maybe birth? I mean, I went from home to a college dorm with lots of roomies to marriage. Along came the kids and that pretty much summed up my life until the-big-breakup. No where had I ever experienced being alone. This was brand new and I wasn't sure if I liked it. So, I started a comfort ritual. Every other Saturday when my daughter went away, I'd go and get take out Chinese. Ok, sounds pathetic and probably was but it was all I could think up at the time. The weekends my daughter was home we'd go to the pizza place where I soon discovered they had "the best" ever grilled chicken salad platter!

Fast forward six years. That's alot of Chinese take out and pizza/grilled chicken salad, I know but by now daughter is in college (still living at home though so no, I wasn't totally alone yet). She no longer goes away every other weekend but we keep up our pizza "date" routine whenever she wasn't with her boyfriend.

Then, it came time to move again. I had gotten so attached to the Chinese food lady and the pizza guys that I actually got hugs from them and I swear I saw a tear or two. I promised the pizza guys we'd "be back" to say hi and I told the Chinese food lady that she had the best Chinese in town. And, so we returned to the town we had left six years prior. Well, let me clarify that--same township but on the other side. In a township that is 56 sq miles the other side of town can be pretty far away! Still, once settled we made a trip to see the pizza guys from the "old days." And, sure enough they were still there--and they remembered the kids! "We watched them grow up," one of them said. And, when I would tell them how old they were now, we'd go through the "oh no, can't be!" routine.

But across town is across town and with the price of gas I rarely get there any more. Plus, the kids are now both gone and I am, for the very first time since birth alone. It's part time right now as the daughter returns about every 3 weeks or so, dog in tow and usually the boyfriend too lol Unfortunately, despite having lived on this side of town for nearly 4 years, I have yet to find a friendly we-know-your-name kinda place. No one says hello or recognizes me when I walk in places. I feel very disconnected and only a face in the crowd.

However, I thought that might change. I found a Subway on the way home a few weeks ago. I've decided that I'd try doing the Jared kind of diet a few times a week. Hey, it's cheap, it's calorie controlled, it's cheap (oh did I say that already?) and I hate cooking for one. The second time I stopped in I was the only customer (again) and made small talk with the lady behind the counter. It was the same lady as from day before yesterday. I ordered the same thing I did then. I'm a creature of habit, boring to others but comforting for me. I like what I like and why try something different? Anyway, this goes on for a couple of weeks equaling at least 7-8 visits now (I'm serious about this Jared Diet thing). Same lady, same order. Yet, each time she looks at me with blank eyes. There is no flicker of any kind of "oh yea, you're the turkey-on-whole-wheat-light-mayo lady." Nothing. Nada.

How can that be? I am usually the only customer walking in around 5pm. I guess most are eating with their families or even cooking (new concept) while I, the now alone, needs to cook for no one. So, it's not like I am in a huge line and she is rushed or stressed like they are at Coldstone Creamery. Sometimes the line nearly goes out the door for Coldstone's gooey, high calorie, hand rolled concoctions!

I miss the Chinese food lady, the pizza guys from the old neighborhood and the pizza guys from the now new-old neighborhood. There are no smiles for me at Subway's counter, not even recognition. Hey, I will make this a challenge. How long do you think it will take for the Subway Lady to know my usual order? Bets are now open...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Home of the Brave

Last weekend I was honored to be asked by a family friend to come to his National Guard unit's farewell ceremony. And so I went--in 90+ degree heat and yucky humidity, I joined about 10,000 family and friends to proudly watch these brave volunteers give their final march lap around the field before going off to war---for the second time in 2 years.

While thousands sat on the bleachers or on the grass, the soldiers stood at attention like statues for over 2 hours, not complaining, not flinching. How do they do it, I wonder? We were sweating in shorts and these soldiers were wearing heavy camaflauge gear, high boots and hats. I was melting and they were standing ready to serve. Yet, I didn't hear one complaint from anyone nearby. These were soldiers' families and they live at the heart of sacrifice. Braving extreme heat, long traffic jams and sunburn is nothing compared to what these 3,000 soldiers will be facing very shortly--something they know all too well now that they've already experienced a tour already.

I will pray every day for these men and women of all ages, races and faiths. I will pray and support them each day until they return. It's not about politics, it's not about whether this is a "right" war or not...for me it's all about these brave souls who are volunteering their physical, mental and emotional selves to protect us back home so that my family can feel safer.

Thank you all for doing that, for me, for my family, for my friends and neighbors that you don't know or ever will. Your selfless sacrifice makes you shining stars in my book.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Bend in the Road

As I have often quoted, a bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn!
Right. Life throws us lots of bends and curves all the time. If we aren't watching, these curves can catch us by surprise and we can suddenly find ourselves fighting for control of the steering wheel. We may even land in a ditch. Since life isn't perfect, we know that these hairpin turns will happen from time to time no matter how much we prepare. The trick is not being in a continual flight or fight mode but rather in a fluid state of mind where we do not attempt control everything and everyone.

Sound contradictory? Well, for many years I trained in Aikido. That is a martial art of flow and circular movements. It's an art that uses your opponent's strength against them. Think Steven Siegal and you'll get what I'm saying. And, although he studied Hapkido it's pretty much the same concept. The trick is in not tensing up. You go with the flow of energy instead of fighting it. But, that is not a passive response by any means. It's actually control by relinquishing control.
And, the same can be said with faith. When I try to control everything, when I curl my fingers tight against the steering wheel, that's when I lose my ability to cope with change, disappointment or a shift in direction. I forget that I am not in total control at all. I am just the driver cruising down that proverbial highway. It's when I resist that I have the most troubles, the most profound hurt, the feeling of being overwhelmed. It's a knee jerk response. I'm still new at this and finding myself dwelling in a pit when things don't go "my way" is a very familiar place.

Then, I realize I have a Higher Power in my life now; a Savior who not only put the stars in the sky but knows them all by name---a God so powerful and loving that he died for my sins. Oh, it's not easy this Christian thing, this living by faith-and-not-by sight thing, this releasing of doing things for myself and by myself. I am still a toddler, learning my walk.

So, I look for my encouragement in the only place that is guaranteed to give all the answers I will ever need. This is what I found:
"But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13 NIV

Exactly! You can't drive without crashing if you are always looking in the rear view mirror! From now on I am looking forward out the windshield and leaving the rest to God. I trust he will get me where I'm supposed to end up-- I just hope he remembers where I'm going. He's a busy man, you know.

Just in case, psst it's exit 9, Lord :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Being Left Behind

I heard about a website on the radio the other day. It's called
It's a place to leave your loved ones notes in case they were weren't saved before Tribulation Day. Now that's an interesting concept.

Apparently, there will still be a small window of time afterwards to run to the internet and declare faith. Well, good intentions but somehow I think that if Jesus did come down and took the saved, the first thoughts of those left behind might not be about booting up their desktops! Then again, in these days of Twitter and mobile internet, perhaps there would be a flurry of IM's, postings and emailings going on!

What would they say, do you think?
Twitter: Whoa! Everyone just left! No really left! I can't text anyone. Dang, this sucks.
Myspace: no new friends to add
Facebook: Whoever is left we don't want to know
Blog Catalog Thread Discussion: So what are you going to do with that great parking spot?

Don't know about you but I don't want to be left behind to find out! I am trying to walk my walk every day. It's not easy. It's a struggle. None of us are perfect. God knows that. But, there are still a number of people who think that because they are "good people" or doing good things, that this is the Willy Wonka golden ticket. Yet, it clearly tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9 that good works alone aren't enough.

We all want our loved ones to go with us when the end happens. Maybe we should instruct them to go to that website if they find themselves left behind. Couldn't hurt...and might possibly save them.

In the meantime, keep on planting those seeds! None of us know when the End Times will happen. It could be tomorrow or in another 1,000 years. The trick is to prepare as though it were coming any day. Just like we prepare for possible future terrorist attacks and have jugs of water, plastic, duct tape, batteries etc we have to do the same for our souls. A terrorist attack may never happen again in our lifetime. The End of Days may never happen while we are on earth but in either case you don't want to be caught unprepared.

Preparing for a terrorist attack takes lots of planning and items. Preparing for the Tribulation only requires asking Jesus to come into your life and heart as your Savior. Both preparations are necessary, but you have to admit the latter is lots easier!

All you have to say ask for Jesus to become your Lord and Savior and from that moment on you have been given a brand new spiritual heart and have been reborn! That's it!

Don't be left behind, but if you are keep that website in your wallet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Friendship Drums

Good friends are alot like comfy sweaters. You may not need them for awhile as you go about your business and day to day lives but when you do need them, they are there for you, offering their shoulder and ear. They say if you can count on one good friend or two you are very lucky.

Anna and I met about this time last year. Both of us were passing time away, each nursing a bruised heart. I thought she had a really cute outfit on and Im'd her about it, but also teased her about wearing a fur outfit in hot weather. She laughed and we quickly started chatting. Then, we decided to play a game. Only we two knew we were playing it but we had fun seeing who would "win" by the end of the evening. I'm not sure who exactly "won." Maybe it was a tie. It doesn't really matter though. We were both winners because we each now had a new friend.

Time passed and we each moved on and our hearts mended. We shared secrets, fun and wedding plans. And, throughout the rest of the year we saw relationships end, new ones bloom and there were more times ahead for that proverbial shoulder.

We've been through thick and thin, Anna and I. She is one of the constants in my Second Life world when other things change around us. Sometimes we can foresee the changes, other times change is thrust upon us without warning like a storm off the radar screen. You know those kinds of storms. They are the kind where in its aftermath life can emerge ruined, with broken dreams. Not always, but sometimes.

And, when it does, it's hard. Because SL is supposed to be an idyllic world. It's supposed to be your refuge, sanctuary. A vortex of sorts against the harsh reality of real life. When things happen in SL that rock your world, I think the reason the fallout can feel so painful is because SL is not only in your head but also in your heart.

In your heart grows a world where dragons fly, where you can live underwater without needing oxygen and where fairy dust and unicorns really exist....really. So, when painful things happen your heart really feels it, too.

To borrow a line from a David Crowder song, "...There seems no end to where you begin and where I end now You and I, collide."

But thankfully, friends can help cushion that collision. Like angels with a safety net, they catch you when you are about to fall....and hopefully your world rights itself again. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow...but sometime in the shadows of time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stress Gone Wild

Trusting Mapquest has nearly been my undoing the past two days. Last night I trusted it to guide me to a restaurant for a dinner meeting. The directions seemed simple and straight forward enough to not raise any red flags. But, something went awry. Although I had kept to the chartered course, I had undisputable evidence by way of a street sign that the road I was promised would lead me to a prime rib dinner, was indeed not the correct path.

Where had it gone wrong? A few streets ago? A mile back? At that fork in the road? I was lost. Since I had given myself ample time to leisurely sip a drink at the restaurant, I still had some time left to back track. So, I turned around, which in itself was no easy feat during prime time traffic.

As I navigated a jughandle turn (for those of you not familiar with this peculiar setup, it is a turn that looks like a handle because you have to exit to the right of the road only to curve around to make a legal turn again. I think New Jersey may have the patent on this) I pondered my plight. It got worse. Now I was facing an intersection beckoning me to follow it towards my hunted quest but it wasn't on my printed out directions.

Hmmm...the sign said Edison with an arrow pointing me that-away. I seized upon that information like a salivating, hungry wolf. Prime Rib nirvana was looming closer! Or, was it? My excited anticipation began to wane after a few miles, traveled at a snail's pace due to the traffic. This was the road, the sign said so. So, where was this place? The road was 4 lanes wide with hungry, tired commuters all wanting to get home and there I was, trying to look at both sides with quick glances and trying to drive at the same time. This is when GPS would be a great thing to have.

Along the way I spotted a police car making a turn at the intersection. It was a Mustang. Now, I don't know about you but I've never pictured a Mustang muscle car as a police vehicle. As I waited for the light to turn, for some reason seeing that Mustang patrol car took me down memory lane, to a time when I was in college and dating the guy who would wind up becoming my husband two years later. That gold Mustang had been the envy of my dorms! It was a Mach I with a 351 Boss engine and hurst shift. Black slats covered the rear window and it boasted a stereo system to boom out the best 70's rock music. It was automobile heaven. Anyway, the thought of the Mustang being a police car amused me for the duration of the light.

When it turned green, I was on my way again. Lost, but on my way. Then, I saw another sign. It told me I was now leaving Edison. Oh no! I looked at the traffic going in both directions and made a decision. I was now officially 45 minutes late for my wonderful prime rib dinner. I was hungry, tired and frustrated. I decided it was time to find my way home. In the end, dinner wound up being Chinese take out last night instead of a fancy dinner with colleagues.

Because I was either dropped on my head while young or am a slow learner, but I trusted Mapquest again less than 24 hours later. I had an important legal appointment and needed to be at the courthouse--a courthouse I had never been to before. The directions promised only 3 turns from the highway. Piece of cake! The first turn brought a sense of relief. Ok, great I would arrive early enough to destress and relax. The next turn was at 0.1 miles on Elm. Wait a minute...where was Elm?! As I passed several streets and watch the odometer go past 0.1 miles from the last turn, there was no Elm. I could feel my stress levels shooting up. I was in city traffic and now lost. Every street was a one way so every time I made a choice, it took several more turns to right myself again. Of course I hit every red light. Finally I saw a courthouse sign. This way it said to parking!

I had to park on the roof. I had made it with 3 minutes to spare but at least I was there! In the elevator I made some small talk and mentioned I needed to be in a certain area by 9am and how grateful I was to have made it in time.

The man frowned, "Uh, hate to tell you but you're at the wrong courthouse. The one you want is over there," He pointed to a tall, windowed building several blocks away. "Better run," he suggested.

The elevator doors slid open. I took a deep breath. I had 1 minute to get there. As I stepped outside, the sky opened up and it began to rain.

I had no umbrella. Where was a Mustang police car when you needed one?

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17
God's GPS