Saturday, April 29, 2006

What's to fear?

Everyone has fears. Some are rational, and others are not so rational. And anyone who tries to tell you that they aren't afraid of anything is a liar. What they probably mean is that there are things that they are afraid of, but they have worked to overcome their fears. The fears are still there, but it's how we react to our fears that is the key.

Like many others out there, I'm a fan of ER. Besides the drama, I am fascinated by the medical side of the TV Show. The lingo (the 27-letter words that I can't pronounce, much less understand what they mean) and the procedures (shocking someone, CPR, etc.) always intrigue me. But there is always one part that I don't like to watch. It's when they have to inject someone with a needle. For as long as I can remember I have never liked needles and have a small fear of them. I don't know why really, I just don't like them.

I do think it's kind of ironic, however, that God would make me have O negative (O-) blood (i.e. universal donor, my blood type can be given to anyone of any blood type, except O+). The next time you watch ER, listen closely whenever some poor victim comes in and they need to do emergency surgery. I guarentee that one of the doctors will call out, "Get me some O-neg or type-specific..." I know that giving blood is important. With one donation, you can save 3 people! That's just amazing to me, and it's also good for your body. By having old blood withdrawn, you are forcing your body to create new blood. That's a good thing! What I find ironic and very annoying is that God would give me blood that is beneficial to others, and yet I would be afraid of needles.

During one of my semesters at Quad C, I saw our college was having a blood drive. I had never given blood before, and for some reason I was feeling rather brave that day; so I decided that I would face my fear and give blood. I probably should have done some more reading up on the matter before jumping right in, but that's what I get for being spontaneous. To make a long story short (I know, too late!), I gave blood right after lunch, but I hadn't eatten enough. I was informed by one of the nurses that I'm a slow bleeder (I took longer to give than most other people), and after I gave, a friend was getting me some juice and a snack and all of a sudden, I fainted. Fortunately, another friend of mine was there to catch me. I was ok after a little while; only my pride was wounded.

You live and you learn... (or so the song says...)
This Saturday was the 3rd time that I have given blood. It wasn't planned. The ladies of our Sunday school class met for brunch at Into My Garden, and when I pulled into the side parking lot, I noticed that there was a Carter Blood Care van next to one of the shops. Suddenly the Holy Spirit asked me, "Why don't you give blood after the brunch?" My initial thought was not today, but instead I responded, "Well, maybe." After a great brunch with the girls, I was heading straight for my car, when I felt myself make a small left turn, and the next thing I know, I'm standing in the doorway of the Carter van with a nice man pointing me towards the registration table. Apparently, the Holy Spirit took me up on my "maybe"...
Fortunately, I did not faint this time (and I didn't my 2nd time either). But instead of fainting, I have picked up a new trend... crying. Both my 2nd & 3rd time, I was completely fine up until they were about to stick the needle in my arm. Then tears start streaming down my cheeks. I cannot tell you how much this irritates me. I get so mad at myself for being such a wuss. Both times, the prick hasn't been painful. Yeah, it stings, but not like my arm's been riped off or something.
Not only that, but I feel bad for the nurse. My nurse today was so sweet. She apologized several times cause she thought she had hurt me. I reassured her as I'm dabbing my watery eyes that it's not her; it's me. And to make matters worse, I can't cry with dignity. I admire those who can; unfortunately I was not blessed with that talent.

So, what do you do? My opinion of needles has not changed. I still don't like them, but despite my fear, I will press on. I will continue to give blood because I know that I am being obedient to and honoring God by facing my fear. Jesus said, "And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it [i.e. any selfless deed] to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'"

I just want to encourage you; if you are struggling with a fear, do not lose heart. Jesus knows what your going through. He experienced fears too, but He faced them and came out victorious. He promises the same for you. "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim. 1:7)
I read a book once called, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. Facing our fears are not easy and sometimes not without pain, but God will make us stronger and bless us for trusting in Him. "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

A Texas Chili Contest

Warning - If you can read this whole story without laughing out loud, then there's no hope for you. I was crying by the end!

Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better.

For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a chili cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio city park.

The notes are from an inexperienced chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cooking contest. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted." Here are the scorecards from the advent: (Frank is Judge #3)

Chili # 1 Eddie's Maniac Monster Chili...

Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.

Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

Judge # 3 -- (Frank) What the hell is this stuff?! You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put out the flames. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy!

Chili # 2 Austin's Afterburner Chili...

Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.

Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor; needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Chili # 3 Ronny's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili...

Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Needs more beans.

Judge # 2 -- A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting pie-eyed from all of the beer...

Chili # 4 Dave's Black Magic...

Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish, or other mild foods; not much of a chili.

Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-lb. woman is starting to look HOT...just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?

Chili # 5 Lisa's Legal Lip Remover...

Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead, and I can no longer focus my eyes. I tooted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.

Chili # 6 Pam's Very Vegetarian Variety...

Judge # 1 -- Thin, yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I pooped on myself when I tooted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair! No one seems inclined to stand behind me anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.

Chili # 7 Carla's Screaming Sensation Chili...

Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge # 2 -- Ho-hum; tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress, as he is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing; it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8 Karen's Toenail Curling Chili...

Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild, nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge # 3 tooted, passed out, fell over, and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor fella, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Across The Pond

Well, I found out some exciting news. I'm gonna get to go back to England this summer in late July on a missions trip. = D I am so exstatic!!!!

I'm gonna be going with 2 friends from church, Michelle and Kasey. We're gonna be going to a small town in England called Thornaby (click here for more info on Thornaby) and we'll be helping out a little church there do their 5th annual Vacation Bible School for the kiddos.

I was actually part of the first team that travelled across "the pond" to help the church do their very first VBS. It was so awesome! I loved every minute. If you want to read more about the miracle that happened on my first overseas trip, read my blog entry from Sept. 27, 2004. (I apologize in advance cuz it's rather long.) I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for this summer!
Also, please pray for me as I prepare to go. Pray that God will begin to move in the hearts and lives of the people that I will come in contact with, especially the kids, and please also pray for me as I will have to raise $1000 for the trip (airfare, lodging, etc.) If you feel led to contribute financially, please let me know and I will give you further details (it will be tax-free).

Until later...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


... are there to listen to you when the world tells you to be quiet.
... are there to hold you when everyone else pushes you away.
... are there to encourage you as you pursue your dreams.
... are there to bring you back to reality when you're about to run amuck.
... are there to give you good advise, whether you want it or not.
... are there to love you even though the world says you're worthless.
... are there to lend a helping hand.
... are there to teach you when you don't understand.
... are there to help you to hang on when all you want to do is let go.
... are there to help you let go when all you want to do is hang on.
... are there to comfort you when it seems the world is against you.
... are there to celebrate with you when a battle has been won.
... are there to stand by you through thick and thin... to the very end!

(author: me, 4-18-06)

"A friend loves at all times..." (Prov. 17:17)
"There's a friend who sticks closer than a brother..." (Prov. 18:24)
Jesus said, "You are My friends..." (John 15:14)

To all my Friends, Peeps, Browncoats, Drunkin' Monkeys, & etc.:
Please know that you are loved, and thank you so much for being a part of my life. Your friendship means more to me than you'll ever know!

Blessings, now & always!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A closer look...

I just recently purchased the DVD Pride and Prejudice. I immediately fell in love with it after watching it for the 1st time with the Apocalypse Queen. She had seen it in the theatre and insisted that I watch it. No complaints from me. It is an awesome movie. Very well done. I highly recommend it!

When we first watched it, AQ happened to make a comment that I didn't really understand at first. She said that I remind her of Jane, one of Elizabeth's sisters in the movie. After watching it again (with subtitles... English accents can be a bit hard to understand...) for the 2nd time this past Saturday, I paid closer attention to the character Jane and now I finally understand what she meant.

There's a line in the movie where Elizabeth is having a heated arguement with Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth has discovered that Mr. Darcy purposely split up Jane and one of his good friends. He says to Elizabeth that he did so because after watching the two of them closely, he "thought" that his friend's feelings for Jane were deeper than her feelings for his friend. He thought that Jane was indifferent to him. (This is of course not true. The audience sees clearly that Jane was heart-broken when she found out that her beloved was leaving.) So, Mr. Darcy broke them up. Elizabeth, tells Mr. Darcy, that her sister is not indifferent; she's just shy and then yells at him, "My sister hardly shows her true feelings to me!" And all Mr. Darcy can do is stand there feeling like the biggest heel in all of creation.

After watching the scene, I began to look at myself. Am I like Jane? Am I really like that? Am I hard to read? Do I really keep my emotions that restrained? Am I really that shy? I'm not sure. Sometimes when we try to evaluate ourselves, we see ourselves differently than who we really are. We sometimes see what we want to see as opposed to what we really are or vise versa. I guess that's when we have to trust in the opinion of others (friends and family) to help us correctly evaluate our outward personality.

I did just recently finish going through a ministry placement seminar called PLACE. Among some other things, they have you take a personality test and a spiritual gift test to help you find out more about yourself. Apparently, my personality is mostly Phlegmatic (48%) with a bit of Melancholy (33%). The other 2 kinds of personalities are Sanguine (18%) and Choleric (3%).

Another thing I found interesting was that before I became a Christian I took a spiritual gift test and it said that my gift was Mercy. But now, the test I took says that my #1 gift is
Evangelism, #2 is Exhortation, and there was a 3-way tie for #3: Mercy, Faith and Discernment.
The Bible says that we are garrenteed at least 1 spiritual gift when we are born-again, and I do believe that as you mature in your walk with the Lord that He can give you other gifts. The apostle Paul even said, "Since you are so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask God for those that will be of real help to the whole church." (1 Cor. 14:12 NLT)

So, now that I have all this info, what do I do with it? In a week or so, a consultant from the church is gonna meet with me, and she or he will help me to find a ministry where my personality and my gifts can be used to further God's Kingdom. Now, I just have to be patient, wait and see what God has in store...


Oh, the wonder of technology...

I find it oh so annoying and more than just a little frustrating how one small glitch can ruin a perfectly good mood. For clarification...
Last night, I spent 2 hours on here writing an entry. I was venting, rambling, and actually ended up with something rather profound, deep, meaningful, spiritual, and encouraging. I was quite pleased that in 2 hours, I was able to express some frustrations, concerns, and worries, and had allowed the Lord to minister to me through my writing. I even ended the entry with a prayer that refreshed me and brought me back to my senses. When I was finished, I was so looking forward to clicking on the "Publish Post" button and sharing my little blurb with all of you.
Right before I clicked on the happy orange button, a little voice inside my head asked, "Aren't you going to spell check your entry first?"
I pondered for a second and thought, "That's a good idea."
So, without another moment's hesistation, I clicked on the spell check button, and I tell you, every rational, practical, non-computer-trusting particle in my brain screamed (in slow motion, of course) "Nooooooooooo!" the nano-second after the small, innocent-looking spell check button had been pressed.
I'll give you 2 guesses as to what happened next, but you'll only need one. That's right! I lost everything. The next thing I see is a blank, white, empty screen. Words cannot even express my frustration and utter outrage at my myself and my computer...

But after a few minutes, the Holy Spirit gently comforted me (to be honest, the last thing I wanted was to be comforted. I was quite content to sulk like a little child who didn't get her way).

"God is in control," I felt the Spirit remind me. This glitch did not suprise Him. In fact, He allowed it to happen, and strange to even fathom that maybe it was His plan all along for me to spend a gruelling 2 hours writting and then lose it all. "Why?" I asked Him.

I did not get an answer. Instead, I came to realize that that entry was just for me and my Father. What was said, was for me. I would have liked to have used the entry to encourage others, but I know that I would not be able to re-write it even if I wanted to. I may not understand why annoyances, glitches, and flops happen, but I can learn from them (ie. always click Publish first, edit later!) and I can rest in the knowledge that though I may not understand why bad things happen God knows why and He can see the big picture. I can't see tomorrow, but He can see past, present, furture and eternity.

If God is for us, then who can be against us?
God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.