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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cherry Trees & Photo Editing

My sister, Berakkah, is gorgeous. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), she can't see it... she just sees the flaws. The cool thing is, she isn't just gorgeous on the outside, she's also one of the most genuinely caring people I've ever met. Animals and children love her in a way that is extraordinary. I guess you could almost call her a baby whisperer. Sometimes, because she's so giving, she gets run over a little bit. She'll do just about anything for the people she cares about... but don't take her for a spineless sissy. She's got guts! She knows what she believes and will stand up for it. Plus, she has a quirky sense of humor that giggles at boogers and farts. I like hanging out with B (that's what we nicknamed her), especially when we sing together. Her specialty is the high harmony in songs. We also have fun doing art and craft stuff together. I'm often afraid of taking advantage of her because she gives so willingly. Being a mother of two small children, I'm inclined to accept any help available and Berakkah certainly makes herself available in an inordinate way. She's turned into an incredible woman... and I'm super proud!

In Memphis, the cherry trees bloom at the beginning of spring for a max of maybe two weeks. It's a sure sign of spring and many Memphians have a long standing tradition of taking family photos each year when the cherry trees bloom. So far, that hasn't really been a Stablein family tradition, but we've always enjoyed the blooming trees. This year, when my Aunt Carol came into town, we went out and had some fun taking photos under the cherry trees. Then tonight, I had fun using Picasa to edit the photos. I think the photos of B are stunning!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gutsy

At the moment, I'd describe myself as guarded and overly cautious... not something I'm proud of. Someday, I think it would be amazing for someone to describe me as gutsy (and not just because they read this blog). Gutsy is such a great adjective. It comes directly from "guts" as a description for someone who has them (guts, that is). I admire gutsy people. Like my friend, Emily, for instance, who has a one year old and moved to another city to go to law school. This, after she's already been out of school for a while and had a pretty established life. The problem is, I don't know how to become a gutsy person and there's not exactly an instruction book for people who want to become gutsy... at least not that I know of. So what should I do? How can I become one of those people who GO for it? There are so many things that feel impossible, but I'd like to do them. SO many people fail... but there have to be some who succeed. Maybe one could be me??? I suppose that some people just have more gutsy personalities, but maybe one of the main ingredients for gutsy-ness (is that a word?) is confidence that what you have to offer is valuable and other people will want it.

I still haven't figured out how to even start being gutsy, but I would like to pay tribute to all those who went for it and failed... you're more gutsy than I.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fight or Flight

Yesterday, I went to a Toastmaster's meeting for the second time. This is an organization that my husband has been a part of for a while and, as I found out yesterday, he is apparently pretty good at it. He's been learning to give speeches and have clear interpersonal communication through table topics, etc. This organization's meetings really force you to think on the spot and respond quickly. Quite frankly, that scares the heck out of me. I think the reason it scares me is because I'm not good at it. Yesterday, they made me stand up and introduce myself and briefly share about whether I prefer St. Patrick's Day or the Final Four. My son, David, was eager to tell his name and all about himself. In fact, I had to remind him not to speak out of turn (he's almost 3). But I wanted to hide behind David. Oh, I should add that the group has a grammarian that counts how many times you use filler words, including umm's and uh's. I should also add that I was sitting right next to the grammarian... who was my husband. As I tried to introduce myself and find something witty and funny to say, I couldn't think about what to say for fear of saying "umm." Add that to the fact that I was nervous... it was pretty sad. I stammered and struggled for something to say, while laughingly telling Mike to stop counting my umms. It was pretty embarrassing. When I left, I had mixed emotions. I am a hopeless perfectionist, so to stand in front of others without preparation and talk is dreadful. I guess I'm not sure whether to run and hide or stand up and face it head on. The question really is: If you're not good at something, is it better to face it and get better at it? Or just pretend it doesn't exist and hope you never have to use it? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Are you who you say you are?

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 20:6

In this age of social networking, we can all be exactly who we want to be. On Facebook, in our blogs, and in our tweets, we can all say who we are without worrying about anyone finding out the real truth. But what really counts? Is it what you say about yourself or how you actually spend your time and live your life? Is it really about how you treat others?

You've all heard the old adage "Actions speak louder than words." I think it still holds true, but the difference is that we don't really give people the opportunity to see our actions anymore. Our community has changed. Yes, the world is still small... and it seems to be getting smaller since we can all connect with not only our adult friends, but also our elementary school friends through social media. So many people to keep up with and we can do it all... behind the monitor of our computer, using words to describe ourselves. But we don't really let other people in very often. We don't let people see the the good, the bad, and the ugly. People have always been afraid of rejection, but now we have the power to never be rejected unless we say the wrong thing. And even in saying things about ourselves, we have time to really think about what we say before we say it. Is it really a friendship if people only love you for who you think they want you to be? Isn't unconditional love (real love) about loving people in spite of and through their shortcomings?

So, what you say about yourself may fool me into believing you're perfect, but you still know the truth. What really matters? Say what you want about yourself, but be the person that loves your friends and works hard and doesn't give up. Otherwise, all the words in the world don't make a difference.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Joy & Woe

Often, I think about the reason for our existence. Why are we in a world that is physically separate from God? Why can't we just be with Him in Heaven from the beginning? I believe that this world is a preparation for the face-to-face relationship we will share with Him in Heaven. In this world, He allows circumstances to test and try us to prove that we are His true friends and loves. He teaches us through the things that happen in life. When we know Him, He takes the ordinary and turns it into something extraordinary in our lives. When pain seems overwhelming to dear ones and I know that He can heal them, when I struggle emotionally with raising two little ones, when too many people hurt across the world and I know He sees and cares about every person's sorrow (Matthew 10:29-31), when I'm tired, or afraid... I come to the conclusion that He allows the pain on this earth for the joy of the real relationship that develops through the pain. Sometimes it seems like all of life is a pain when you try to live it in a way that is pleasing to God... but I think I've figured out why.

Living life for Christ is painful because we are used to living for ourselves and when we give up our own desires and right to pleasure and satisfaction for the sake of making the life of others better... it hurts. But what joy waits for us as a reward!!! Every day that I learn to give away my time and energy and love to my children at the cost of my own life is worth it! My beautiful children gain from the time and energy and love... and in addition, I am storing up riches in Heaven. We love Jesus by loving those around us with selfless, unconditional love. At times, the sorrow of giving up myself and my desires seems like it is all consuming. Knowing that my life should be full of joy, it seems confusing... but I have come to a more full realization... joy and sorrow go hand in hand. You can have both at the same time! The sorrow and woe of letting go will never disappear... that's why, in this life, we are constantly sober minded. Yet we also laugh and rejoice at the joy we have in the presence of God. When Heaven comes, all of the selfishness that we have will disappear (that causes the sorrow) and we will only have JOY! What a wonderful day! But the sorrow must be endured for a short time in order to earn all the joy!

Proverbs 13:7
There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
— Mother Teresa

With this in mind, it's easy to become people that are obsessed with our failure to give for others... just remember that we can't change ourselves by dragging up our past. God is the one that does the changing work in us. No need to beat yourself up for not being perfect... just trust that He will finish the work that He started in you (Philippians 1:6). He said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). If we rest in the joy of His presence while we live this life, that becomes true for us.

For those of you that have pain... emotional, physical, etc., find HOPE in Jesus!

I would like to post a few stanzas from a poem by William Blake. A dear friend read this years ago and it struck me so deeply that I still remember...

It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

Here is a link to the entire poem: http://www.online-literature.com/blake/612/

Another thing I have been thinking about... a lot of Christians seem to believe that when you come to know Christ that you have to completely change who you are and that if you do anything good that you can't take credit for it... I think I have a little bit of a different perspective on this. The Bible says that people were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)... I think that He put a little bit of who He is into each of us. He gives one person a bit of His creativity and another an understanding of His scientific mind. Some are natural leaders and others are facilitators. Whatever part of the image of God is on you, you are beautiful and wonderful! ...I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14). This should NOT be erased or changed. God wants us to carry out the desires, skills, and talents He has placed in us. The problem that needs to be corrected is the sin that came in after God created something perfect. To me, I see God's perfect creation polluted by sin... kind of like cancer. You may have a perfectly functioning liver, pancreas, and kidneys, but when cancer comes, it not only perverts the function of a single body part, but it spreads to the entire body if it is not treated. Jesus Christ is the treatment that removes the cancer from our lives. He doesn't kill us and start over, instead, He heals us and makes us what He meant for us to be in the first place. Because of this, we should be thankful and praise Him for the amazing person He made each of us to be! We can be proud of who we are. Realizing that He created us gives the ultimate humility. (Romans 9:19-21 & pretty much all of Job) We may be happy in this life for our accomplishments and for building on the talents that He gave us in the first place knowing in our heart of hearts that everything we have and everything we are is due in full to our creator! Remember the servant that hid the money that was entrusted to him in the ground. His master was so displeased that he took the little money that had been hiding in the ground and gave it to the servant that had invested and increased the money that was entrusted to him. (Matthew 25:14-28)

We have a lot to be thankful for. In light of that, let's press on (Philippians 3:13-14)!

Pressing on, pressing on
All my distress is going, going, gone
-Relient K

And check out the lyrics to "Less is More" by Relient K:

"Less Is More"

Jesus, I pray
Take all my mistakes
Throw them away
Destroy them for my sake

Jesus, I call out 'cause I'm sorry
Because I fall so short of your glory
To the best of my ability
I'm practicing humility
And I lay myself before
'Cause less is more

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
Cause to you less is more
All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
Cause to you less is more

I pour out myself
All that I am
You love me so much
That you fill me again
And may these words on my heart, on my lips
Somehow mean so much more than this

Jesus, I pray
Know what I'm trying to say

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
'Cause to you less is more
All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
Cause to you less is more

I pour out myself, before you were Lord
I hold nothing back, 'cause to you less is more
And may these words on my heart on my lips,
Somehow mean so much more than this

Jesus, I pray
Just know what I'm tryin' to say

Jesus, I plead
Please purify me
Make my heart clean
Drench me with your mercy
Jesus, I pray
I love you, I need you
For the rest of my days
I swear I will seek you
To the best of my ability
I'm practicing humility
And I lay myself before
'Cause less is more.