Thursday, December 31, 2009

Epic Fail Week...or something else?

When I look back at the last couple of weeks, I just have two words that come to my mind. EPIC FAIL. In the midst of it, my sweet girl and her dear friend, said "Nay, in a couple of days you are going to laugh at this." That didn't go over so well at the TIME, but I can honestly say, I am laughing now. This whole "Moving During the Holidays" should be made into a National Lampoon's movie. I'm just saying.

Let me give you an example. The morning of Christmas Eve we find out some amazing loser in California has stolen our debit card number and pin code, and is roaming around filling up his SUV at gas stations in Marina Del Rey. Nice, right? Epic Fail #1- we must have used some shady ATM and they got our info.

Christmas goes great, wonderful time, and the MINUTE the last guest's foot is out the door, I am packing like a mad woman. And I promptly break two family heirlooms from Steve great grannie. Epic Fail #2- don't hurry with the breakables.

Saturday, head to work, Steve and the kids are packing, day is mostly going well. Get off work early so I can help, and as I am going through a stack of mail, I notice a package from my work. I thought it was just the generic "Look what a great place you work at" magazine they put out a couple of times a year- but Oh NO- that is NOT what it is. It is the benefits enrollment package that I needed to fill out and sign by the deadline- TWO WEEKS AGO. Apparently, because it had been forwarded, the post office kindly stuck the yellow forwarding label over the part of the envelope that says "Time Sensitive Materials- Response Needed." Epic Fail #3- when you take a position SPECIFICALLY to get medical benefits for your family, make sure you fill out the paperwork immediately, or you lose until next year's enrollment.

Sunday morning starts off great. Co-worker agrees to take my shift so I can keep packing, go to church and God rocks my boat with the reminder of his love and the fact that, "No one can make a brand new START, friend, but everyone can make a brand new END." Steve and I say goodbye to our son as he heads to a youth retreat, and we start loading up the car and truck with odds and ends to move. Truck is stuffed with tons of stuff an hour or so later, car is ready, ignitions GO. Or not. Steve's truck won't start. EPIC FAIL #4- make sure when you beg your husband to sell his gorgeous sports car so you can have no more car payments, that he doesn't turn around and buy a beater that he is going to "restore". Push the truck down the driveway, get it jump started and away we go.

Now for the BEST day, Monday morning- pick up the UHaul with my two helpers, Jazz and her friend. I am a little nervous about backing up the 26foot monster into my teeny alley and driveway in Two Toned Land, where the HOA freaks out if you block the road, but I can't find anyone to drive it for me and Steve's at work, so here we go. I am doing great, manuevering the plants, electrical boxes, lining up with the garage post. Ooops. Forgot the roof eve hangs over a few feet from the post, and I have now successfully smashed the gutter and eve with the back of the UHaul truck. Epic Fail #5- yeah, I just suck.

Movers arrive and find me sitting on the front stoop in a daze. But they promptly start loading the truck...and terrify me the entire time that one of them is going to drop down the stairs in cardiac arrest and I am going to have to code him right there, and the other is going to have an asthma attack and I had already packed all the inhalers and nebulizer. They really tried their hardest, but were not physically or mentally capable of making this move happen in an efficient way. Epic Fail #6- don't go cheap and hire Craigslist movers, use the professionals.

After 3 hours of hardly anything getting done- I cut the movers short and tell them to just take the junk...I mean household the new house and we would do the rest ourselves. They agree, and continue to wheeze and turn purple as they tie things in and finish loading the UHaul. At the new house, have them unload everything in the garage and send them on their merry way. Take the UHaul back to the store, everything goes great. Turn in the keys- and realize I lhad my car keys in my jacket...and I am wearing a sweatershirt. Said jacket is on the chair at my house. Epic Fail #7- don't get stranded at the UHaul store on moving day, it will make you want to cry.

Call Stevo- he can leave work early and come give me his key. Great, the girls and I say "Hey, we need a break anyways, we will walk a couple blocks to Carls Jr, get some lunch while we wait." Great plan. As we are walking, God decided to remind me to be thankful for being a fertile woman of child bearing age, except I don't want any more kids and at that moment had no feminine hygiene products in my purse. Or anywhere for that matter, as all bathroom items were packed in boxes and buried in the nightmare of a garage the movers made. Epic Fail #8- being a chick can really stink sometimes...and ALWAYS keep some personal items in your purse. NO MATTER WHAT.

Steve saves the day, get the car, head to the new house to attack the mess. Moving, moving, moving, things are getting done, furniture in place after many frustrating moments as I try to fit 3000 sq ft of junk into an 1100 sq ft house. Family room mostly put together, sliding a rubbermaid tub across the beautiful, brand new cherry wood floor, SCRATCHHHHHHH. Apparently there was a tiny pebble, or crumb, or something- never did find it- that was lodged under the box and it left a beautiful, LONG scratch across the family room floor. Epic Fail # 9- don't be lazy, PICK UP ALL BOXES.

Day ends with a quiet tear, house is coming together, and at least no one has lost a limb or their sanity. Papers were filed at the court house towards our previous landlord and his Epic Fail of paying his mortgage, and we are moving on. Thank you, Lord. Steve kindly tries to set up the washer and dryer for me so I can wash clothes- the dryer hose won't reach and their is something wrong with the washer connections, they just squirt out water. Epic Fail #10- don't bother setting up the laundry room until you have gotten a good night's rest, it will send you over the edge.

Tuesday morning, head to work, freezing cold- but still breathing. Thank God for little miracles. Hospital is slow, my boss is wonderful and let's me head home early. Get back to unpacking, organizing and the general insanity of life. Steve is finishing up the last things at the old house, and the snow starts to fall. This was actually a wonderful blessing, and my mood started to improve. Our new home looks beautiful in the snow, and the yard was transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. But my poor husband was freezing, so Epic Fail #11- don't try moving in December and then send the movers away early. You never know what the weather will do to your poor husband as he tries to move everything else on his own.

Did you like my story? I wish I was crafty and could tell it like a real National Lampoon's Movie, but you get the jist. It is pretty funny when you think about it, and in the midst of all the bad, God was incredibly good. When I woke up Sunday morning in tears, and laid there frustrated and feeling like a failure- God gave my husband such sweet words for me. Steve read me Psalm after Psalm of our Father's provision and love for us, it was such comfort to my heart. He reminded me that God hears my cries(Psalm 3:4), He listens to my prayers and I can watch Him work (Psalm5:3), God is my shield and will lift my head no matter what (Psalm 3;3), and as my shield, He FAVORS me (Psalm 5:12), and God protects me, loves me, saved me, and is ALWAYS ready to forgive...oh, Thank you, Lord for that (Psalm 3:5, 13:5, 145:8). Monday, Nick called us out of the blue and offered his much needed help, such a blessing- and he even gave us hours of free muscle Tuesday. What a great brother in law and friend. Sweet Karen came bearing delicious treats to lift my heart on Wednesday morning, and I was again reminded how wonderful it is to be a part of God's family. That no matter what a failure you are, there are some people who can truly love you anyways.

So, God be praised- we are officially moved. AGAIN. And since I jacked up the floor already, I guess we will have to stay here for the rest of our lives. :) As long as this new landlord remembers to pay his mortgage. Hahahahha.

Thank you, Lord for a good night's sleep and some fresh perspective. Thank you for giving me a roof over my head, food in the fridge, money in my pocket and clothes on my back. Thank you for good friends, great family, and the salvation of my soul. You, Lord, are a great God.
"I sleep and wake up refreshed, because you, LORD, protect me. "Psalm 3:5

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How could you be so heartless?

Time to get it off my chest, and people are going to get mad. But ya know what? As Jack Nicholson would say, "YOU can't handle the TRUTH!" :)I realized yesterday how often I get my philosophies from scenes in movies. It's like I have a movie reel in my head, and life is little clips...I just wish I could find a way to dub incredible musical themes over the lows and highs, then it would be just about perfect.

This post is about the Middle East. More than that, it is about apathy. It is for my children, so when I am dead and gone they might happen upon this little note, and if they are being apathetic losers who care only for themselves and their own relations, they might be SHAMED into understanding. I hope, they see me right up in their grill, talking as fast as ever, eyes on fire.

Obviously, I am more than frustrated at the conversations I hear in the wonderful, liberal Northwest. Could there be any more selfish people on the planet? I am sorry- I want to not resort to name calling, but if you have said to me "We need to get our troops out of the Middle East...those are our boys over there...we are killing's all about OIL (OH! That one sends me over the top!)'s not our job to police the's a conspiracy"- if you have uttered those ridiculous falsities in my presence and gotten the resulting onslaught of my mouth, I can't say that you didn't earn the names I called you. :) I am working on that filter between my brain and my mouth, but I can't say I regret reaming you. God still teaching me patience. :)

I watched the movie Hotel Rwanda yesterday while wrapping presents. ACK. If you have seen that movie, you can imagine how few presents got wrapped. Why I thought that would be a "nice, comfortable" movie to accompany my American gluttony of materialism, I have no idea. But I don't believe in accidents, so God ordained it for a reason. My heart sank as I watched Tutsi children and families be massacred on the screen, all for the reason that the Hutu's DIDN'T LIKE them. Almost a million deaths before the Rwandan soldiers got it under control. This movie was based on the true stories of many Rwandans, and the devastating murders and atrocities that happened during that particular genocide in 1994. Horrible, horrible time- but due to the conversations I had this week- the part that stood out to me the most was the UN and the foreigners. I can't re-state everything that happened in the movie, but you can wikipedia "Rwandan Genocide", or watch the movie for yourself and see the reality of what happens when "Good people do nothing". Now, the main characters are amazingly noble and self-sacrificing. But the UN, the Americans, the Belgians are all slow to respond, and slow to care. It was heart breaking, because it is truly as though we are doing the exact same thing in the Middle East. Who cares if there aren't weapons of mass destruction? Who cares if there's oil under their feet? There were-and probably still are- civilian families being terrorized, raped, murdered and re-educated while we worry about our bottom line.

I am trying to believe that the opposition to the war is really out of concern for our soldiers, but I ask you, just like Pippin asked the Ents during LOTR, "but you are a part of this world!" (Again- movies sometimes have the best themes!)

Our soldiers are trained, military personnel who signed up to "protect and serve". If they don't like DOING THEIR JOB, then they shouldn't have joined the military for a free college education. The men and women who joined to "be a soldier" are never the ones complaining. The ones that love humanity, and protecting the weak from the bullies...they are right where they know they are needed most.
Can you honestly say, that when they see the mothers sheltering their children from terrorist gunfire, when they drag the innocent, dead men out of the streets after another bombing- can you honestly say that all those soldiers believe that things would be better if they weren't there? We hear all the time that the violence is escalated because of the peace keeping forces. Really? Learn from Rwanda, you fools! The minute the peace keepers pulled out, the terrorists, dictators and rebel idiots shut down all unauthorized, outside communications and instead of bombing a building hoping for casualities, they just walk right into the "infidels/traitors" homes and slit their throats...along with their children. And you just didn't have to hear about it anymore because all the cameramen were sent home.

Now, why we are helping in the Middle East while Africa continues to kill itself...that's for another opinionated day. :)I am not foolish enough to believe all our leaders are these caring, crusaders. But I do believe that God uses those selfish leaders to sometimes put things in motion to save those who love Him. And I can tell you from first hand stories I have heard and those mothers who can sleep at night now, to those children who get to go to school again, to those fathers who can work and provide for their families without fear because there are American soldiers right outside the those people- the war in the Middle East is a blessing, not a curse. They want to be protected by anyone who cares enough to give them a voice.

Watch Hotel Rwanda with new eyes for this generation- and see if you can keep yourself from seeing history repeating itself. Don't NOT care about the world around us, friends. To keep it real, picture the man in the photo below- he is the real Paul from the movie. The simple, ordinary hero who shelter over a thousand people and saved their lives...because he cared.

Father God, bring us to our knees in intercession for these hurting peoples all over the world. We have to live our lives here, and count our blessings for the freedoms and luxuries we have- and thank you for that, Lord- but help us not to forget those who weren't born American. Help us remember...and not grow weary in doing good.

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Ode to Cyber Friends...

What a wonderful day off yesterday was! I almost think working 6 days a week is worth it, because I appreciate the days off so much more. I didn't get even half of my to-do list done, but I did have my spirit renewed and my laughter bank filled up- so I would say the day was a success. Christmas Concert, High School event, pedicure, good friends- what a great day.

I had the wonderful opportunity to not only get a pedicure, but to sit for two hours and talk with a dear friend- who I have seen face to face all of one time. Sounds so weird, doesn't it? I always ask Steve if it is strange that I feel so connected to some people through my computer, and he keeps saying no- but I don't know. :) From Slovenia, to Georgia, to California, and back to the Northwest again, I have dear sisters that I pray for all the time, laugh and love with, and yet- it is all through technology. Whether it is blogging, emailing or texting- our lives don't allow us to sit down and have a real cup of tea together, but our computers and gadgets let us grow in Christ as friends. How weird is that?

Well, today- I don't much care, because my dear Cyber friend blessed my socks off yesterday. In the very literal sense. Bahahaha! How did she know I would need time to sit, have a nice foot massage and get pretty toes for Christmas? If she had not pushed for it and asked to set a date to get together, yesterday would have been filled with bill paying, moving boxes, scrubbing floors and toilets, and general sweat and tears. (Not that all that still doesn't need to be done, any volunteers?) Instead, God gave me the physical rest, and my buddy brought a spiritual reminder. She is such a gracious, patient lady. Listening to her talk about her life, her kids, and her hope for the future- I was reminded how much God is working all around me. Being with her quiet heart was so good for me, and I am just praying that I don't have to wait until I am 60 too to get that. She even gently reminded me not to hate my nasty landlord and give him the benefit of the doubt. :)

All in all, I am a thankful girl today. As I head to work to see my patients, I can do it with a bounce in my step. Thank you, Lord, for the friends who help us, and a world that needs us.
"Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel." Proverbs 27:9

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fiction, facts, and grace...

Ever wake up and just know that today is the day? Today is the day that you finally admit the truth about yourself? That you are FINALLY willing to admit, to verbalize, to announce out loud (even if just to yourself in the bathroom mirror)....that you are....Fill in the blank. Mornings that stay in your memory for the rest of your life. I don't know about you, but I have had about 5 mornings like that in my short life, and today was one of them.

I had been struggling with my failures this last couple of usual. Letting down kind friends, being too busy to breathe, missing physically the feeling of robustness that comes with good diet and exercise, wanting to know if I was ruining my children, failing my husband and all in all, doubting the reason for taking up space on the planet. Now, in my right conscious mind I had the answers that I should and haven't been necessarily crotchety or depressed. But in the quiet of my mind, when I toss and turn in bed, I wondered...I wondered if maybe, just maybe...I was the exception to God's "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jer 29:11 Just maybe God didn't mean that for me, because, in the word's of my son, I "fail at life". (He says that jokingly, don't worry- I would have him in counseling if he told me that for real.)

Long story short- this morning was that morning. I finally looked in the mirror, and couldn't pretend anymore. I admitted to myself "Renee, you just don't GET grace." Ugh. Those that know me, know how much I struggle with this, and how much MORE I struggle with not understanding something!:) Give me the rule book, let me pay you back, don't say Happy birthday or give me presents, because then I will owe you. Being a Christian, I love the sound of grace and it's a pretty doctrine to have on the shelf, and I KNOW that I can't be with God without it, but in the closets of my mind, I hope that I can EARN something, PAY BACK something for all that God does. That was my revelation- I just don't GET IT and I MUST if I want to be effective in this life. Not only must I understand grace, but I WANT to understand it and embrace it. I am so hoping that realization is truly the first step to recovery. :)

I finally realized: FICTION: You are a Christian and an adult, a free born American with more blessings than you can count- you should have it together by now, Loser. FACT: You do "fail at life", Renee. And that isn't necessarily going to change the harder you try. You will always make mistakes because of your natural bent towards self gratifying, "Center of the Universe" thinking. Someday you might not do it in such big and bold ways, but even when you are 85- you will still mess up.

All week God has been throwing GRACE in my face. From the book review I have been trying to write, the scriptures I have been reading, even when a good friend was telling me the best way to witness to a Mormon- grace, grace, grace. I flipped out over a facebook comment today- why? Because it reminded me of the crappy person I was before Christ, and I didn't want to deal with this GRACE issue. Bah! When God starts slinging, it does no use dodging right? I think, though, that He finally brought it home- with a nice coconut cream pie to the nose tonight.

Now, for the best part: GRACE makes the fiction disappear, and the FACT easier to swallow. If the God who has "determined the number of the stars and calls them each by name", the God who is "mighty in power (and) His understanding has no limit" (Psalm 147:4-5), if that God was willing to come down here, to live and walk around in a finite body for the sake of saving my neck, the very best and only thing I can do is say "Thank You". Grace was defined once as "God's Riches At Christ's Expense". So true, and so perfect. I am praying that you feel that grace right now with me, and know that no matter what you might THINK about yourself and your record, God isn't going to give you what you deserve- He is going to give you what Christ earned for everlasting. I still don't totally understand it, don't totally know what to do with it besides smile and praise God for His goodness, but Isaiah 54 reminds me a little of how great knowing God's grace really is:
"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach...

For your Maker is...the LORD Almighty...
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth." (Verses 4-5)

Right now...God's grace is more than sufficient for me...for the first time in weeks. :)
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5
Mmmmmm...hang out in Ephesians 2 a little while tonight, it is DELICIOUS.

Sunday, December 6, 2009 gain some perspective.

It is truly AMAZING what a day off can do for your heart. I was blessed with the first day off from the nursing gig I had had in over a week, and the first day off in over a month to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Not to say I did nothing, but there was nothing I HAD to do. What a glorious freedom that brings. :)

I think that is one of the things I like best about December. The holiday season almost forces you to reflect on the things that normally blow right by your mind. Thanksgiving makes you "call to mind" all the things you are thankful for, everywhere you turn a Christmas Carol is playing or a sign reminds you that Jesus ADORES you so much He came to earth to save you, and even New Years is a time where most people look to the future and decide to be intentional about some good "resolution" they want to make in the next year. I love it. I am a firm believer that nothing good ever happens accidentally (it's hard to believe in a sovereign Lord and believe in accidents at the same time:)...we have to prepare, take aim, and TRY to nail our target. So our target better be worth it, right?

Remembering all that God does every day is the best way to stay intentional- His ways and His very being should always be our target. To remember the ways He has been merciful, to remember His strength and power, and to REMEMBER the way He provides for all our needs...oh, how can we not want to stand up and cheer for Him!
I think Mary, Jesus's earthly mother said it best:
"His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty. " Luke 1:50-53

God bless each of you today. I am glad to go to my church this morning and worship the God of the Universe with my family, I am blessed to have a home to move to finally and a job to work hard at. And I am SO happy that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I wish I was an elf!

My favorite part about this...whoever made it- is these are the EXACT people I would love to have a fun snowball fight with! I love you guys!
(Don't forget to pause the music on the right before you start the video.)
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