Tuesday, December 29, 2009

God In History - New Blog

The other day, Max and I were discussing a calendar that he had brought home from St. Cecilia's Cathedral in Omaha. He attends Catholic mass whenever possible and loves it. I was thrilled to have in my hands something with all of the feasts, saints days, etc., from the Catholic church. What an amazing look at the history of the church.

As we talked, I began to consider that many people are unaware of how the Christian church has developed through the centuries. The Catholic church is denigrated by many evangelicals and the idea of saints is abhorrent. But, in negating all of that, what happens is that we negate a great portion of history. God has been working in great ways through the lives of people all over the world for the last 2000+ years. Most of us have no idea who these people are or what they have done. Though we may not approve of sainthood, the fact remains that these people were working in God's name in our world. There was a reason they were recognized and we should discover what that was.

The way that Christians interact with the world and with each other has changed radically in the last 2000 years. We look at history through the lens of contemporary Christianity and have no concept of why early Christians responded to the world the way that history reports.

What all of these conversations and thought processes made me realize is that I can actually do something about this. On January 1, I will be starting a new blog: "God in History." Each day I will study and write about an event or a day in the history of Christianity following the Resurrection of Jesus.

The earliest days of Christianity are covered in the book of Acts and the letters of the New Testament. I'll begin with the meeting of the disciples found in Acts 15, but immediately after, I will concentrate on things that are not spoken of in the New Testament, but are found in historical records and extra-Biblical books.

If you'd like to receive a copy of this blog in your inbox each day - just let me know. Or, you can follow it or drop the RSS feed into your daily reader. I'd love to have you join me. I'd love to receive feedback and questions as we are going through this. The best way that I learn is through teaching.

The blog frame is up, there is no content yet. You can check it out at http://.godinhistory.blogspot.com.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas - Paying it Forward

In my last post, I wrote about buying cigarettes for a stranger. What a great story we'll have to tell for a long time and it's a fun memory of Christmas Day 2009.

It's not necessarily easy to be gracious and generous in today's world. We worry so much about people taking advantage of us and we've gotten really cynical about those that might need a little extra help. We're so concerned with making a few bucks and saving a few bucks that we forget to take care of anyone.

I decided to come up to the cabin today and spend some time processing on a new blog (announcement hopefully will come this week) and the information for the next series on my Pour Out a Blessing blog. I need to finish a personal story for an application and start working on some other things that are coming up as well.

The roads all looked good for the trip to the cabin and I had communicated with my friends up here so they knew I was coming and off I went.

I hit the interstate and pulled up to speed and my Jeep started shaking terribly. Wow. This isn't good. I pulled off the next exit, turned around and drove the interstate back to my exit. Yup, shaking over 65 mph. Unhappy Diane. I called Max and as we spoke, I thought about the fact that I'd been driving in tons of snow, none of it had melted and I wondered if I needed to deal with the snow in my tires. I tried to go to a car wash, but it was closed, however ... Jiffy Lube was open.

I pulled in, told the guys what was going on. They pulled the Jeep into a bay, chipped off a ton of ice and blew the snow out of my tires. The guys played with Leica (my dachshund) for awhile and then escorted me to my car. They had checked tire pressure and figured that everything should be good to go. Yes, ice and snow packed into the tire area will knock them out of balance.

"How much do I owe you?"

"Not a thing, consider it a Christmas gift. Let us know if you have any more trouble.

Wow! I was stunned. Owning a business in Omaha for 20+ years taught me a lot about cynical behavior. No one does much of anything without getting cash. I have been re-learning how to live among generous, gracious people as I've spent more time away from the city. Today though, I was grateful and surprised at the generous treatment I got.

When I pulled back onto the Interstate, my Jeep drove smoothly and I was off. The interstates were clear, the highways were drive-able and when I pulled up to the cabin, I discovered that my friends up here had plowed my drive for me again, knowing I was coming.

How can I ever justify being stingy or cynical? I have received innumerable blessings in my life. I received incredible blessings just today! Buying two packs of cigarettes for a guy doesn't seem like I've done nearly enough to pay it forward.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Samaritans?

I came home from the cabin on Tuesday because I was worried about the incoming storm.

I didn't go anywhere on Wednesday because I was worried about the incoming storm.

We stayed home on Thursday because I was worried about the incoming storm.

It's Friday - I was pretty much done with being in the house. However, the storm not only had gotten here, it got here with a fury! But, I have a Jeep and I love my Jeep.

Carol called - telling me that someone had dug out her driveway and the alley behind her house. The main road looked clear and if I could get there, we could actually have a little bit of Christmas and maybe some food!

Poor Max. He scooped a path to the Jeep, turned it on to warm it up and then we loaded everything into the car and headed out. (Have I mentioned I love my Jeep? No problem getting out - just a little extra push on the gas to get through the drifts.)

Mini vans stuck in side streets, cars driving too fast, small cars trying to get through the mess in the intersections. All great entertainment for me.

I took the main roads to get to her house and when I turned onto Military, I drove a few blocks and there was a poor, older man stuck in a snowdrift. He'd been walking. He couldn't get himself up and out. I passed him, realized what was going on, looked in my rearview mirror, saw absolutely no one and backed up to see what we could do.

Max got out of the Jeep to see about helping this man up. Well, I don't know what this guy was doing, but he couldn't help Max at all. He acted like so much dead weight. I asked if they needed a 911 call. The guy didn't refuse it, Max was beginning to get worried. The guy kept dragging himself and Max back to the ground. So, I called. Then, a young man pulled up in a pickup and between the two of them, they got the man out of the drift and he took off walking back to his apartment. WEIRD!

Max got back into the Jeep. The guy was on his way to buy cigarettes. Are you freakin' kidding me? Then, it occurred to me. It had to be pretty awful for him to head out in this weather. If he needed cigarettes, he probably needed them and Christmas Day is not about teaching the man a lesson. We pulled up in front of the apartment building (oh, I had called off the rescue workers, telling them I would watch until he got home and ensure that he was really safe), and Max asked the guy what kind of cigarettes he smoked. We'll go buy them for you.

Off we went ... to buy cigarettes ... for a stranger. Walgreens - closed. Sinclair - closed. Bucky's - closed. Sheesh! This is going to take awhile. Finally, Quick Trip was open. In we went. We got food to take to Carol's and two packs of cigarettes. Back to the guy's apartment. Merry Christmas, dude ... enjoy your evening. Please stay inside now.

On our way to Carol's. That really great job of plowing her alley? Two feet of snow in front of it. The city had just come through. Oh, good heavens. There was no way my Jeep was hopping that drift. 1/2 block from her house and we can't get there. Nowhere to park. Nothing we can do. Are you kidding me with this?

Then, a man from the apartment complex next to hers needed to leave. He came out with a shovel and was working through the drift. I pulled up and asked Max to spell him with the shovel (see how this works? I'm the Good Samaritan, Max does the work). Then Carol came out with two more shovels and before we knew it, it was clear again and in we went and off he went to do whatever it was he needed to do.

Laundry and Christmas with Carol and an evening out of the house. With a little bit of hilarity on the side. I mean, who goes on a trek to buy cigarettes for a stranger? Obviously, Diane and Max do.

I'll be out again tomorrow, I guarantee it. I love my Jeep!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Giving and the Grinch!

So far, so good.

Got the car washed. My goodness, it was in bad shape and I even washed it last weekend, well ... Monday! By Wednesday, the storm and driving through the mess had me to the point of holding myself far away from the car so I didn't get dirt all over myself. You know how I love my Jeep - I like to have it looking pretty, too! (I know ... I know)

After that I went to Hy-Vee. I intend to do crazed holiday baking this next week. Everyone else and their daughter, granddaughter, grandmother, mother, and a few male type figures (whom I figure were only there under duress) were purchasing baking necessities today as well. When I walked past, there were only 3 packages left of brown sugar, I had to beg the guy stocking the shelves to find mini marshmallows for me, he was shoving flour on the shelves as quickly as possible and the chocolate chips were nearly gone. All of the shelves were depleted in the baking aisle. He was working as quickly as humanly possible!

I suppose after that crazy week we had and then a Saturday that people could actually move around the city, everyone was desperate to get started on their baking.

As I walked around the store, it felt wonderful to be a part of the excitement. It happens every year about this time, people feel good about what they are doing. Maybe it's the fact that for the most part we are thinking of others. We're buying gifts for someone else, we're baking for family and friends, neighbors and coworkers, we're focused on so many things other than ourselves. And it feels great!

That's the feeling that struck me today as I was watching people interact in the aisles. Oh, they were jammed with carts and boxes/pallets that needed to be stocked in the shelves. People were backing up and getting out of aisles they didn't actually need to be in and trying to avoid running into each other, but there was a sense of camaraderie rather than competitiveness.

It didn't hurt that the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who were moving through the store hugging and greeting customers with big smiles. How in the world do you maintain any kind of attitude other than surprise and glee with that happening around you!

But, today I wasn't in the store because I had to buy groceries for myself. I was there because I had made a list of items I needed to create gifts for others. Every item on that list will be blended to make treats and goodies to serve at a party, to share with neighbors. Nothing will be for myself (except the stuff I snitch as I bake).

Giving it away. That's just the best feeling of all.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Getting old? Yes, but NO WAY!

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting old. When is it too late to make radical changes in your life. At what point do people just think you're nuts? I've been talking to several people my age and older and one of the things that I keep running into is that these people are looking towards the end of their careers (in the short-term) and are no longer thinking about making changes that will excite them, but are just considering the easiest way to sneak out of life.

You see, our parents did that. Retirement was an amazing goal. They looked forward to sitting around, drinking ice tea (or whatever), maybe working on a few projects around the house, traveling to see grandkids, on and on and on. So ... if our parents did that, we should too?

When I was much younger, the people that were my parents age were old! They already acted old. If an older woman wanted to do things that only younger women did, she was called 'feisty!' Blech. I don't want to be feisty, I want to be Diane!

I'm about to make a major change in my life, a change that could take me 30 years to accomplish (well, not the initial change, but the overall goal). I want to be given those 30 years by people who know me and people who meet me. I don't want anyone to expect me to lay down and shrivel up simply because I turn a certain age. It's absolutely going to kill me to watch my friends move toward retirement and then settle into quiet, withdrawn lives because they think that's the thing to do.

Now, I know full well that many of you will take exception to all of this - and YEA!!! Do!! If you are looking forward to retirement, good for you. If you get all weak and feeble on me because you've given up on life, I'm kicking your butt.

This is going to be an interesting time for me. It scares the stuffing out of me that people my age and older quit going for the big, exciting jobs and huge dreams for their future because they think they have to. I don't want anyone to ever look at me and think that I can't do something simply because I'm no longer 25 years old. Now is the best time ever for me to be doing big, exciting things because I finally have the wisdom of the ages behind me (shaddup - all of ya!).

Look - this is what turning 50 does to ya. All of a sudden you get really reflective on life. Right? Right. Sigh ...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Routine? Love it.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much a creature of habit I am. The thing is, I love change. Change always means growth to me. It's scary, but it always challenges me. At the same time, though, I find that there are certain things I need to remain stable.

The last two weeks were amazing. I got to see old friends, experience new things, go places I don't consider part of my pattern. It was awesome.

The ten weeks prior to that were amazing. I was in the process of taking online classes and focused my energies on learning and accomplishing goals. Again ... just awesome.

But, this week, knowing that I could settle in ... drag out the Greek textbooks, explore some new educational possibilities, read, etc., and not have to face long travel trips which challenged me or think about how weird my schedule is due to holidays ... just felt wonderful.

When I was working full time, I loved the breaks that holidays brought. So, I watch all of my friends get excited about those days off and I'm glad for them. For me, though, that stuff just upsets my continuity! Maybe it's because I'm getting older and I like things to stay in one place. No, I don't think that's it. (well maybe a little) I'm really working towards upsetting my entire pattern for 'normal.' It's going to happen and I'm going to love it!

Christmas parties, gatherings, celebrations, concerts, holiday events are all coming up and ready to intrude on my 'normal.' I'm going to enjoy them all. But, it's different being in a position where I'm no longer anticipating the break in my routine because my routine stinks. I love my routine right now. I love that I can study and research, write and process. I can hardly wait for the next course of study to begin!

Speaking of that ... I will hopefully be bringing some more of Diane's life-change news to you soon! Just gotta get through the process.