Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Suck At Praying (But I Try Anyway)

So I read this article this week :

And it really resonated with me.

"When the motivating factor in your prayers is self-interest, you may find yourself more and more frustrated and disappointed by the results....

"... Sometimes we treat prayer as a bargained-for exchange: if you spend a few seconds asking God for stuff, He’ll grant your wishes." 

That's totally me, unfortunately.  I needed this smack upside the head, this gentle reminder.
I pray the Lord's Prayer every single day and I go from there to "Thank you" for everything He's given me and then I totally continue to "And here's the list of stuff I'm asking for."

I always forget to say "Amen." I get distracted by other things, like the gym, like work, like writing.  When I remember I forgot to say "Amen," I immediately take up where I left off in the Asking For Stuff list, and then I get distracted, and the whole thing starts all over again.

"Expect to discover your God-given purpose when you spend time in His presence. Expect to be filled with an unbelievable amount of peace despite whatever situation is railing around you. Expect to experience an unexplainable joy in the midst of external hardships and internal doubts.  Come before God with expectancy in your heart and watch Him satisfy your ever need.  But be open to the God of the universe satisfying your needs in ways that exceed your expectations or desires. He knows best."

That doesn't sound like a tall order, but it totally is for me.  Spending time in His presence is hard for me, because #1, all the ways that are usually described of how to spend time in His presence are things I kinda recoil at, thinking that it sounds so unbearably cliche, "listening to worship music" I don't like most worship songs. "sitting in complete silence in a private place"  I've got stuff to do.  and #2, when I do try to spend time with God, I expect instant results, and He doesn't work like that.  Hence, the name of this blog. God Is Patient, I Am Not.

I've gotta be better, I've gotta try harder, which is coincidentally the anti-thesis of the whole Christianity thing anyway - it's not about your works, it's about your faith.

All I can say is Thank God He's patient with me. Because man, I am pretty much a disaster, ho ho ho.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Be WITH me

The past two months have been hell at work, for a bunch of reasons that I will never discuss until maybe five years from now with a lot of good tequila.

For the past two months, I felt like I was walking into a war zone for eight hours a day, five days a week.  And every day before work, I would get out of the car and take several deep breaths and send up a few prayers to God, sometimes as simple as, "Please let everything go okay today" and sometimes as complex as "Please don't let anyone yell at me, in person or on email. Please let me discern when I should interrupt my boss when she's on the phone and I have another call for her.  Please forgive me for the murderous thoughts I have towards the MIS department, who aren't even located in the U.S. anymore, and it's not their fault their accents are so impenetrable."

What I suddenly realized one day is that I kept asking God to prevent things from happening TO me (or prevent me from acting on murderous impulses.) What I should've been asking Him to be WITH me.

That praying isn't about getting God to be your bodyguard, where He stands in front of you and blocks Bad Stuff from stabbing you in the neck.

Prayer is about asking God to dwell WITH you. I think technically He's supposed to dwell INSIDE you, via the Holy Spirit, and yet most days, I feel like there's too much bitterness, fear that I'm gonna get written up, cynicism, or junk food for me to feel like the Holy Spirit's in there too.

So I started asking God to be with me.  To walk with me.  To stand alongside me. To help me stand in the face of whatever stresses the day was gonna throw at me.

I won't say things instantly got better.  In fact, they pretty stayed the same until one day... we were out of the woods. I survived.  For now.

I know there's a lot more to praying than what I just mentioned.  That it's not just about Him walking alongside me, but the whole relationship aspect, that Get to know Me! thing that is supposed to be at the heart of real prayer with God.

And I'm working on that. I'll always be working on that.

But that moment, that day in the parking lot, felt like a step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

I Got Your Back

I was running slides at church a few weeks ago, and it was that seemingly elastic stretch of time between services.  Where it seems like you have all the time in the world until suddenly the band is taking the stage and you better be in your seat ready to hit the lyric slide for "Louder Than The World."

Since our church has moved locations to a place further down Hollywood Blvd., we don't quite get the stream of crazies that we used to.  Sure, there's a few bums that like to sleep in the space between us and the fire station next door.  I figure they like to think they're covered either way with blessings from God or water from a hose.

But we don't get the crazies who sometimes bum rushed the middle of the service and made things interesting like we used to.  Which is slightly sad.

But here I am, in between services, wolfing down a granola bar.  I sit in a little alcove sandwiched in the far corner, and most people don't even know I'm there, they walk right past me, which is totally fine.

But I hear one of the ushers talking.  Or perhaps enduring is a better word.  Because there's a gentleman rambling his brain off to the usher in what the gentleman thinks is conversation, but more is passing for something like a cross between a rant and a lament.

It's your HEART (mumble, mumble, mumble) in your SOUL! (mumble mumble mumble) your HEART!”

Now granted, I only hear bits and pieces of the conversation. I do not know what part of the train of thought “your heart” and “your soul” occupy in this rambling. I don't know what the thesis is that he's trying to get across.

But I do know that the volunteer usher feels pinned down. Because I keep hearing her say, “Yes... Yes.. YEP! Yes... Yes... Yeah.” in that way that clearly communicates I am stuck in a conversation with a somewhat crazy person. Okay, he might not be crazy. But he's not all the way there. And I can't excuse myself from the conversation because I'm a volunteer usher and I'm supposed to greet people coming into the sanctuary. So I can't walk away from this potentially crazy person. But I have a feeling he's not going to leave me alone.

Yep, I got all of that from her “Yep.” You would have gotten it too, had you been there and heard it.

So off I go to get the helpful security staff, who are trained to politely deal with people like this. I don't make eye contact with the volunteer usher, though, because I'm worried I'll catch the eye of the not-all-there gentleman, and say what you will about the Potentially Crazy people, but almost all of them do this: if they know they have an audience, they'll usually escalate.

So I head outside and grab the first security person I see. And he goes inside, where another security person is already on the scene, chatting up the not-all-there gentleman and gently escorting him away.

I smile at the volunteer usher and say, “Don't worry, I had your back.” And she smiles at me and thanks me, even though I wasn't number one with the Help Brigade.

But it occurred to me, how many times has God had my back and I had no idea? That I was doing my best to be polite and endure a situation and thinking I was on my own? Until help came out of nowhere and I realized He was behind the scenes, tinkering around with stuff and figuring out who to send to me for help.

I must try to remember that more often.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thank God. Smile. And Fix It.

Sorry for the absence in posting.  The day job has been its own brand of specialized hell.  It might be one of the more difficult jobs I've had in this town, with so many different spinning plates and moving parts.  But I can also say it's one of the best jobs I've ever had, so I'm tearing out my hair and smiling while I do it.  Yay!

And grinning as a first response to a bad situation is also something I wanna talk about.  Because there I was about two weeks ago, scrambling to finish up a draft on Polka Dotted Platapus, which I'm turning into an animated movie.  I had a group of people who were waiting to read it, and my writing schedule had turned into one of those things where you wake up at 6:00am just to get an hour or so on the computer before going in to work.  Oh, and you take your computer to work with you so you can continue to write on your lunch hour.  and then when you get home at night.  

So basically, nose to the grindstone time, which is totally fine, I think an animated version of Polka Dotted Platapus will really kick ass, so that's propelling me.

The goal was turning the draft in that Friday.  Thursday morning I woke up at 6:00am, sat down and booted the laptop up, and discovered a giant Yeti-sized plot hole just kinda hanging out between Act 2 and 3.

And the first thing I thought was Thank God.

Not the S word.  Not the F word.  Not the F-S word.

But Thank God.

Thank God I discovered this Jupiter-sized plot hole before I turned the script in.  Thank God I discovered this Grand Canyon-sized plot hole while I still have some time in the day to fix it.

Thank God.

Thank God.

Thank God.

And I think that's the best takeaway of maybe this whole month (which included my birthday, by the way)  When you discover a problem, your first reaction shouldn't be to cry, scream, or swear.

Just Thank God.  Smile.  And get down to fixing it.

Says me.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

They Will Know We Are Christians By How We Answer Quizzes

This week, I was asked that perennial chestnut of a question, “If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and what three questions would you ask them.”

And I instantly answered, “Jesus.” Though if I had given the question perhaps thirty seconds more thought, I would've said my dad. But I thought reaction time was a factor and that was the first thing that popped into my head.

The three questions I would ask Jesus would be:

1. The concept of free will and how is it really supposed to work and do you think it's working as your Dad had intended it to.
2. That whole predestination thing.
3. How do you think the world's going these days?

And then I would be watching really closely to see if Jesus ate anything, and if the bread baskets magically refilled themselves, ho ho ho.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated Hall Of Fame Section!

Hey everybody!

Check out the sidebar ==============================================>

We got the best posts of 2013 up there!  How spiffy!

Take a tour, look around, maybe you missed something and need a laugh. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The thing is, we knew it was coming. 

 Bella has made several appearances on the blog, here, here, and  here.

She and Ginger Puppy were some of the happiest dogsitting clients I had ever seen, and I was sad that I couldn't ever get them together for a doggie play date.

Do not doubt for a second that dogs can't smile. They absolutely can, and Bella was living proof. 

Bella's family adopted her specifically because she was an older beagle with health issues that not a lot of people would want. And yes, she was absolutely one of the chubbier beagles I had ever seen.

It didn't matter. Bella owned her weight like a boss. Trotting around like nobody's business, no I don't care how big I am, no, I don't care if there's growths on my face, and yes, I snore like a brick house, but I am the world's happiest dog, see?



You will love me no matter what, because my smiles are pure gold.

And they were. They totally were.

I got an email from Bella's mom last September. Bella wasn't doing great, her health issues were catching up with her, so did I want to come by to say hi, possibly for the last time?

Of course, of course, of course.

So we took these pictures. Even when she was uncomfy, she would smile. And we thought that might be it for little-not-little-used-as-term-of-endearment-Bella.

But Bella is a go getter. Her specialty was sneaking out of doors and gates when people weren't paying attention to her (Never on my watch, thank you very much. I am an awesome dogsitter.)  The next month, painters were working on the outside of the house and despite repeated warnings from Bella's mom, they didn't close the gate all the way, and so off Bella went on her grand adventure.

This happy beagle that was supposed to be down for the count trotted her hefty, happy butt through the neighborhood. Bella enjoyed the freedom, smiling at everything and everyone, especially the nice nice lady who saw a happy trotting beagle wandering around the neighborhood and pulled her car over to see what was going on. Bella smiled at the nice nice lady and of course Bella wasn't wearing her collar that day, so the nice nice lady took Bella home, and slipped a spare collar and leash on her, and started walking Bella's hefty happy butt up and down the street to find her owner, which is how Bella's mom, frantic and sick and more than a little pissed at housepainters finally caught up with her.

And that's how Bella met the actress and nice nice lady Shannon Elizabeth.

Because that's how Bella rolled, see? When Bella went on adventures, she went on adventures HARD. Her smiles attracted FAMOUS PEOPLE. Didn't matter that she wasn't feeling good.

Maybe it was that adventure and rubbing shoulders with Hollywood actresses, but Bella rebounded and sailed through Christmas. So her mom thought it would be all right to take a 10 day cruise to Antarctica at the end of January, because why not, she nabbed the deal on Black Friday, and Antarctica was on her bucket list. And Bella's dad, the hospital pediatrician would be here should anything go wrong.

Bella started not wanting to eat a day or two before her mom's trip. They asked if I could help out, and of course I said sure. I'd stop by on my lunch hours, or after work, and would feed Bella the version of doggie Ensure, one of those caloric packed drinks that they give cancer patients. My dad was given those and didn't like them, so I didn't blame Bella one bit for not wanting to eat. But we had to get the stuff in her somehow, so her dad started bringing home hypodermic plungers, which I'd load up with doggie Ensure, and aim for the back of Bella's throat. Bella hated it, and I wasn't thrilled with force feeding one of my favorite pups, but we got a fairly good routine going, and made it through the 10 days until her mom came back. Which was really the most important thing.

Bella passed last Friday. Peacefully. In the backyard in her bed and blankets under a magnolia tree. As her mom wrote me later, she had made the fateful appointment with the vet for 12:30pm, but Bella passed around 10:30am.

Because that's how Bella rolled, see. She did things her way. Smiling the entire time.

I'm really sad, but I'm also really happy that she's not in pain anymore. And I'm positive that she's romping around in heaven, chasing squirrels and rolling in green fields and delighting God with her smiles and wagging tails.

I've heard a lot of conversations about how when we die, we get the perfect version of our bodies in heaven, the way that God intended us to be, before our base desires and/or lack of discipline took over.

I dunno if it's true for dogs, but if it is, I have no doubt that Bella is just as chubby zooming around in heaven as she was here on earth. Because she owned everything about herself. Her adventurous ways, her smiles, her bumps, and her magnificent canine Botticelli physique.

This is my favorite picture of her.  I love her lots. I'll miss her forever.

And her real name was Abby.