Monday, September 28, 2009

October Pour Out a Blessing

I began writing this blog a year ago on October 1st. I wasn't sure if I could keep this up on a daily basis, yet have found it to be an amazing opportunity for study and reflection.

Last October I chose 31 of my favorite Psalms to look at and write about. I will look at another 31 Psalms this October.

I'm thrilled that so many of you continue to read along with me.

If you know someone who would enjoy this, please invite them to join me. Give them my email address (nammynools (@) cox (.) net) and I will get them on the daily email list. Otherwise, they can check out the blog online.

If you find that you are receiving too much email from me, please don't hesitate to ask me to remove you from the list. I take no offense, life happens too quickly these days and emails can have a tendency to drown us.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

50 Years of Learning

Well, this is just freakin' weird. I turned 50 today and I'm not yet sure what to do with that! When my father turned 50, he was old. My mother didn't make it to 50. I don't feel old. In fact, right now I feel better than I have in years! So ... today has been weird.

What have I learned in the last 50 years? A lot. The problem is, I don't seem to actually apply all of that learning on a consistent basis. You'd think that the wisdom of these ages would cause me to be more self-confident, less judgmental, more positive, less gossip-filled, (you get the idea). And yet, I seem to be the same girl that is filled with fears and insanity that I was as a child.

So, what have I learned?

I've learned ...

...a lot about what I like and dislike. It's time for me to step forward and enjoy the things that I like and discard the others.

...that material items will drag me down. Stuff is in my way constantly. I spent a lot of years collecting the junk that I just want to be rid of at this point.

...that I love technology. I love physics and math. I love being a geek / a nerd ... whatever you want to call it. I don't have the experience and education needed to actually succeed at all of those things, but that doesn't mean I can't love it!

...that I love being around creative, brilliant people. If we hang around together, trust me, you are one of those people and if I've lost track of you and we ever did hang around together, trust me, you are one of those people. When I was younger, I never really paid attention to the fact that I was drawn to that, but wow I really am.

...that love is easy to give. Easier than most people allow it to be. There is nothing better than actually saying the words 'I love you' to people who surround me. I mean it - every time I say it. Love is everything - the essence of every relationship. We withhold those words too often.

...that it is better to walk away from an argument than to fight for my rights or my opinion. I'd rather have a relationship than be right.

...that sometimes things in the past will mess you up and you may never, ever get past them. But, I've also learned that if they stay hidden and silent, you will get eaten up by them.

...that people who walked in and out of your life over the years never really leave your heart. Relationships are so important and I should never have released some of them without more of a fight.

...that change is better than stasis. Change always brings growth. And I'm never going to be too old to embrace change in my life.

...that I was much too young at the age of 17 to make life decisions for career, family, etc. What in the world was I thinking? In fact, I don't know if I'm really old enough now to be making these decisions.

...that money makes life easier in some cases, but causes us to obsess about things we shouldn't waste our time thinking about. It's really not worth it. Big houses, fancy cars, expensive items replace relationships. I'd rather live in a cabin in the woods (oh yah ... I'm loving it) than a mansion on the hill so that I can spend money on my friends and family rather than on stuff.

...that nothing can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ. I have been through so much in these last 50 years and there were times that I openly worried about losing my faith because of the extreme intensity of the crisis. But, even through ups and downs in my relationship with God, I still can't imagine being anywhere but in His arms when all is said and done.

...the greatest blessings in my life are people.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bits of Life

Well, I got the information back from my professor today on the first paper I handed in. APA standards. Blech. I have to figure out how the University of Phoenix expects papers to be formatted. Fortunately there is an add-on for MS Word that will assist me in this and the more I read, the more I understand. But ... blech. And I did not get it right on the first paper.

However, out of 200 points, I managed to get 190. He was generous with my lack of APA knowledge. I doubt that I get that grace on this next paper.

Comparative Religion is an interesting topic for me and for many of the other students in the class. We have a desperate desire to avoid sounding bigoted, but many of the class members are quite obviously Christians and we find ourselves trying our best to be open minded about beliefs in other cultures and religions.

The paper I am working on right now is on the Sacred Elements of Hinduism. Now, this is a fascinating religion. There are many gods and goddesses and many different ways to worship and actually be part of Hinduism. We see much of it in the Western world. In fact, there are Hindu temples going up all around us. One is being built on Hwy 17 in Iowa and I drive past it every time I head to the cabin. I really need to stop in and see what's up.

So, I'll turn in the paper on Tuesday or Wednesday and panic for another week regarding the grade. Yup, I'm that person.

Jim & Janet, Jacob and Carol got back from the cabin this afternoon after another period of construction. There are now walls around the shower. Awesome! Little by little we will get the cabin to a new state of perfection. Something that will last for the next 40 years. And one of these days I will actually have internet in there. When that happens, don't think for a minute that it will be easy to drag me back to civilization. A shower AND the internet. Really, what more could a girl ask for? Well, maybe better heating and air conditioning ... but ... ok.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Astronomy dork wannabe

I have always loved the night sky, but I have also been wholly intimidated by those that know it so well. So, learning about the stars was one of those things I put off until I had plenty of time to absorb all of the knowledge I wanted to ensure that I had. I can find the Dippers and some of the other constellations if pushed, but I really don't have much information to share about the glories of the galaxy. However, I am an addict for deep space photos and anything that NASA wants to share with me.

One of the things that I waited and waited and waited for was enough money to purchase a telescope so that I could see beyond what the naked eye can view.

Amazon sent a coupon to me for a telescope and when I clicked through to the product, discovered a simple item that was inexpensive and with their discount found that I could purchase it for $29.95. Now, this telescope is no big deal and I'm not going to discover any comets or asteroids plummeting towards earth. I'm not going to change the world of astronomy or anything like that. I decided, however, that if I was every going to do this, now was the time, this was the telescope and I was going to sit in the meadow at Bell's Dell in the middle of the night and look at the stars.

The package just showed up at my front door and I am leaving this afternoon for the cabin. You have to believe that when it gets dark tonight, I will be taking my Jeep down to the meadow (I need a flat surface) and spending time with my telescope.

I can hardly wait. In fact, I got a little teary-eyed when I opened the package. This is just one of the portions of God's creations that I haven't taken the time to explore and I'm really excited! My brother says he has a nice telescope that hasn't gotten too much use. Huh ... he has a very nice backyard to look at the night sky. It's dark where he lives when the lights go out at night. So, who knows what information I'll have when next we chat. Maybe nothing ... maybe I'm just going to enjoy fields of stars and the beauty of the planets.

Maybe someday I'll be an astronomy dork ... instead of just a dork wannabe!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

When in doubt ... learn

Ok, I'm taking another class - Comparative Religions. This is online through the University of Phoenix. It began last Tuesday and is only a 5 week class, but I will get three undergraduate credits for it.

This terrifies me. The Greek course is still in process. I keep waiting for the professor to post more information so I can progress. He's gotten caught up in a lot of projects. I'm totally giving him the benefit of the doubt. I'm trying to not be annoyed by the whole thing. Sigh.

But, this Comparative Religions course is freaking me out in a big way. You see ... I don't fail. However, I haven't taken a course for credit in 30 years. I have been doing a lot of learning over those 30 years, but no one has judged my knowledge or forced me to get approval for what feedback I give on my learning.

I wrote a paper this weekend, turned it in (early of course, because I am that person) and then went into full-blown meltdown. The teacher posted his grading rubric on Monday (the day the paper was due) and for a subjective paper (What is Your Personal Belief System), he was looking for references with citations. Really? I'm a (nearly) 50 year old, well-read, intelligent woman who has written this paper based on her own authority and her own knowledge.

So ... full-blown panicked meltdown began occurring inside my soul. Now, if this were a full-semester course, I wouldn't worry so much. I always expect the first couple of assignments to be my chance to test the waters with a professor. I figure out what he/she is looking for and then adjust my assignments accordingly. With a 5 week class, I do not have time to be playing those games.

I was more than a little annoyed that this grading rubric didn't show up the day the course started, so I'm holding my breath. If things go badly in this course, I'll probably make a little noise. If all goes well, I'm not stupid enough to muddy the waters. I'll let you know!

ANYWAY, I'm in the middle of learning a lot about indigenous religions, now into Hinduism and soon into Buddhism. The learning is rapid and a lot of fun! There is so much that I'm absorbing from all of this.

The disgusting thing is that my freaky husband already has this information in his head. Drives me batty. How can I tell him something interesting that I'm learning if he already knows it? Sigh ... oh well.