Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Moving Gypsy

     In 2002, we moved the mobile home in which we’d been living for nearly 15 years from our rented country property to a mobile home park in town. This transition required us to find another home for our eight-year old dog, Gypsy--half Golden Retriever, half neighbourhood mutt. Our friends Barry and Gayle graciously agreed to adopt Gypsy, making their country home hers, where she could have the run of the yard and the attention of two energetic girls.
     As though off on a light-hearted adventure, Gypsy was more than willing to hop into the truck with my son and me, her dog house and other meager belongings loaded on the back. We’d thrown in an old blanket we hoped would “smell like home” to her. When we arrived at her new digs, she happily snooped around the yard until she saw we were getting ready to leave. Then she tried to climb back into our vehicle with us. We literally had to push her out in order to get the door shut. It broke my heart to see her standing there watching us drive away, no doubt feeling forgotten and confused.
     A week later, we visited her and she again hopped into the car, ready to go “home.” Again, we pushed her out and sadly drove away. How do you make a dog understand this is definitely in her own best interest? If she came with us to town, she’d be tied up all day or in a kennel, something she’d never had to do before. How I wished I could become a dog and speak her language, if only for a little while.
     In those moments, it occurred to me that we all have our “Gypsy” moments. It was as if I could almost hear Jesus saying to me, “What you are feeling now toward Gypsy is what I often feel toward you. It breaks my heart to see you confused and hurting, but I know things you don’t know. Yes, I am leading you down a path you don’t understand right now, but it really is in your own best interest even though you can’t see it today. You can trust me on this, because although you can never become a dog or speak Gypsy’s language, I became a human for you. I loved you so much I became one of you and spoke your language. I can see the big picture, but I also understand the little picture because I’ve walked in human shoes.”
     I’m pleased to say Gypsy soon felt at home with her new family. In subsequent visits, though she nearly wagged her tail off in welcome, she never again tried to go home with us. She lived out her days a happy, smelly old dog who loved people. She was lucky to have not just one, but two families who loved her so much. 
     Now, when I experience times of wondering what on earth God is up to, I think of Gypsy and trust the one who knows more than I. Gypsy may have never fully understood it, but guess what?  One day, I will.

Friday, January 20, 2012

To Be Perfectly Honest

      2012 welcomed me with a rip-snortin' head cold. Couldn't stay tucked in bed, either, as I needed to travel home from Alberta on New Year's Day. Fortunately for me, I have my own personal and handsome professional driver who agreed to marry me back in 1977. For that, he gets the privilege of toting my sorry carcass around without benefit of a chauffeur's paycheque.
     Even when healthy, I'm typically a useless lump on the passenger seat. I'm either sleeping, engrossed in a book, or grumbling about how uncomfortable I am. I figure if people were meant to travel, we'd have been given wings. Or first class airline tickets.
     So you can imagine what a peach I was on this particular travel day with the addition of a brutal virus. You'd be right, too, except I'd been given a gift while we visited family and friends over the holidays. Phil Callaway is a prolific humour writer and speaker who lives in Three Hills, Alberta. I was given an autographed copy of his latest book, To Be Perfectly Honest: One Man's Year of (Almost) Living Truthfully Could Change Your life. No Lie.
     It seems Phil's editor at Multnomah Books dared him to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth for an entire year, then write a book about his experience. Now, if presented with the challenge of telling the truth for a year in a public forum, I wouldn't exactly jump at the chance, would you? Which begs the question, why not? Are we habitual liars? If not, it should be easy. Right?
     Intrigued, I offered to start reading the book aloud as soon as the sun came up, about an hour after our departure. I didn't think I'd last very long, given the stuffed up sinuses and all. But we found it so delightful, I kept going...and going...and we were disappointed when we ran out of daylight around 5:00 and had to put the book away. I have since finished reading it and my driver is working on it. Not while driving.
     Phil Callaway makes his living as a humourist. Everyone knows what makes humour funny is usually exaggeration. Exaggeration might be 97% truth. It might even be 99% truth. But it is not whole truth. This presented a dilemma. But as Phil discovers, we humans are so adept at presenting ourselves in untruthful ways, we fool even ourselves. The stories he shares, presented in journal form, are hilariously entertaining and refreshingly, painfully honest. I can relate to this guy.
     One of the more benign and funny adventures was when an elderly man calls him one Sunday evening to apologize for his extreme anger after Phil cut him off in the church parking lot that morning. The problem was, Phil was out of town when the infraction occurred. He explains this to the man, but the man insists, "No, it was you, I know your car." In the end, Phil told what he hopes is a guileless lie, forgiving the man for his angry outburst. (He never says whether he also apologized for cutting the guy off.)
     I highly recommend this book for its thought-provoking self-disclosure, heartwarming tales, and sheer entertainment value.
     It will not, however, cure your cold.

Click on the picture for more info or to orders your copy.

Exciting New Developments...

Well, it would be downright silly of me to not post this exciting new development on my very own blog, now wouldn't it? And here. Thank you Lord! Though I admit I question your timing since I hadn't planned on attending this year's conference.

While awaiting the announcement of the final five, I kept thinking it would be simpler if I didn't make it onto the list. I could be sad for a day or two and then get on with my regularly scheduled programming. I'd get my critique, re-work the book again, enter an improved version next year. Save up enough money in the next year, book vacation for conference time, and hopefully, be feeling healthy again by then. Perfect timing, in my eyes.

Instead, I am now trying to decide whether to go this year. Money's tight but not impossible. Time off work can be arranged. It's the health thing that's holding me back, even though everyone I love is encouraging me to go. I'm just not sure they get how crappy I feel most of the time. And we all know right where we want to be when we're sick, right? Our very own bed!  Not in mile-high city where you have to drink a gajillion glasses of water a day just to stave off altitude sickness. Not a thousand miles away at a big-time conference where you have to look good and be "ON" every moment of the day as you try to sell your book to the right editor and agent. It takes an incredible amount of physical and emotional energy, at least for a basically introverted bumpkin like myself.

I realize how horribly spoiled and ungrateful and wimpy this must sound. I just think it's a horrific lot of money if I end up skipping out of half the events so I can sleep.

And then I remember I may be even less well next year. I may not place next year. They may not even hold the contest next year, OR the conference, for that matter. And if by some miracle I did win this year, I'd be kicking myself for years if I wasn't there.

What is God saying to me? Does "Be still and know..." mean I'm to be still and stay home? Let the chips fall? Or does it mean to go, trusting him to handle the health and energy issues? His strength in my weakness and all that. Or does it really matter to him one way or the other? I suspect He's far more concerned about whether my heart's surrendered to his. If anyone has any wisdom to share, I'd appreciate it!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Confessions of a Facebook Junkie

Hi. I'm Terrie, and I'm a Facebook participant. Okay, enthusiast. Buff? Devotee? Okay, okay. ADDICT. Happy now?
     It all started innocently enough, as a great way to keep in touch with my kids who were scattered around the planet at the time. When our first grandchild was on the way, we were able to see immediate ultrasound pictures even though his mother was 1500 miles away.
     Naturally, more friends became Facebook friends, both those near and far. I was soon reconnecting with high school classmates and teachers I hadn't seen for 30 years!
     Then I started my own blog. Every time I put something new on my blog, I posted a link on Facebook and within minutes, several friends would be reading of my latest escapades. What's not to love?
     I think what I like best about Facebook, though, is the way it makes us appear more witty than we are. You know all those times when the perfect sassy comeback occurs to you the next day? Well, with Facebook, you can make your comment when it comes to you, knowing the participants will see it sooner or later. The thrill of being seen as that clever was irresistibly attractive to someone hungry for affirmation. And who isn't?
     Besides, I knew I could quit any time I wanted.
     It was the day I set myself up for accountability that I realized how hooked I was. It was my "writing day" at home and if I wasted time poking around Facebook, I'd never reach my goals. But with no boss looking over my shoulder, I also knew I wouldn't have the required self-discipline. So I posted this as my status: "Catch me on Facebook before 8:00 tonight and I will owe you ten dollars." Then I logged out as fast as my fingers would fly. It was 9:00 a.m.
     By ten, I was beginning to wonder who might have commented on my status. But I kept working. At noon, I took a lunch break. Well, everyone knows that lunch goes down so much better when seated at your computer, checking Facebook. But I had to resist or it would cost me. Yes, I am shamelessly motivated by money.
     By four, I was getting touchy. To make matters worse, I had created a new blog post but couldn't tell the Facebook world about it! By five, I wondered whether there might be a patch I could stick on my arm to ease the craving. By six, I was seriously considering taking the risk. "I'll just lurk, I won't comment," I thought, even though I knew full well people can tell when you are online.
     At eight, I realized I had checked off every single thing on my "to-do" list. I wanted to celebrate! What better way than to log on to Facebook and tell everyone?
     To my surprise, no one had commented about my ten dollar offer.
     That's when I made an interesting, technical discovery. A few days earlier, I had updated my status and set it up so that it was visible to only five other people. Unknown to me, each update since then had defaulted to the same five people only. (Five people who had not wasted time on Facebook that particular day.) Not only did no one care about my daring act of resistance, no one had even seen it!
     But it had worked nonetheless.
     And I had to face the ugly truth about myself.
     I'll be joining a support group soon. Suppose they have one on Facebook?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why I'd Vote for Mandatory Hibernation

     The days have been getting longer for a couple of weeks already. Are you feeling it--the lifting of "S.A.D?" According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Seasonal Affective Disorder affects more women than men. However, my friend Kevin Hamm tells me he felt like hibernating when he spent eight winters in St. Petersburg (NOT Florida), where at this time of year the sun comes up at 11:00 a.m. and is gone by 5:00 p.m. He attributes the high percentage of depression and mental illness in Russia at least partly to their sunless winters.
     Of course, here in "sunny Manitoba," things are significantly different. Nyet.
     I thought I'd test myself against the symptoms of S.A.D, which include:
  1. Increased appetite with weight gain (You should just see the piles of cookies and chocolates we've been scarfing down at City Hall since December first!)
  2. Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness (Well, in that case, I have S.A.D. all year 'round.)
  3. Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon (See point #2.)
  4. Loss of interest in work or other activities (this is why I keep a sign above my writing desk that says "Thinking about writing is not writing. Talking about writing is not writing. Reading great writing is not writing. Wishing I had written is not writing. Only writing is writing.")
  5. Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement (See point #2.)
  6. Social withdrawal (Hey, I log on to Facebook at least twice a day. Don't tell me I'm not sociable.)
  7. Unhappiness and irritability (Well, I wouldn't be unhappy and irritable if all those unhappy and irritable people would stay away from me!)
     I certainly understand the wish to hibernate and sometimes wonder why God didn't give us the ability, since the instinct is certainly there. Notice how much we eat in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years? Hibernating animals store food as body fat during the end of summer and fall.  This fat runs their bodies all winter, unlike people, who tend to hang on to theirs only to add to it again the following year.
     When an animal begins to hibernate, its body temperature drops so low it almost matches the temperature outside. Your temperature is normally about 37 degrees Celsius. If you were a hibernator and it was minus one outside, your body temperature would drop from 37 down to around minus one to plus four!  Just think. If we all hibernated, we'd save tons of money on fuel, food, heating, water, entertainment, snow clearing, and toiletries. Saving all that money, we could afford to not work for three months!
     When we all woke up in March or April, the sun would be shining, the snow would be starting to melt, the snowbirds would be returning, and we'd all be slim. After a shower and a hot meal, we'd be rested, healthy, happy, and easy to get along with. There would be less crime. Shorter waiting lists for medical care. We'd be glad to see each other again. Kids might even want to go back to school! The benefits are endless.
     Yep, I'm all for hibernation. Who's with me?