I Didn’t Know What To Call This, But I’m Back

This is usually the part where the blog writer explains his or her long absence with a list of reasons why they haven’t blogged since August of last year. However, my reasons for not blogging were kind of boring (Depression, school work, blah, blah, blah) What I’ll do instead is just move right along to the next topic.

In the past seven months, I have noticed a change in how I approach reading and writing. I’m a lifelong bookworm, and in 2012, I successfully completed 100 books. Since then, I’ve completed one year of university, and now, when I read anything, my inner editor automatically picks up the punctuation errors.

A few days ago, I was reading a response to a question on the Ask FM app (in which the people submit anonymous questions). My first thought was, “Dang, girl, ease up on the commas! No one takes that many pauses when they speak.” Then, I remembered that I was not reading an essay, so the person could put the commas wherever she wanted to, and her mark would still be the same. (Zero, because she’s answering questions about her life, not being graded for her writing.)

I also moved, and found out that I spent most of my time working acquiring stuff that depreciates in value. You know what’s mildly depressing? Having to fill out a form for renter’s insurance and realizing that you don’t have anything that would qualify as an “asset.” What I do have is a bunch of stuff that is valuable to me, and perhaps, my niece. (My makeup collection is enormous, and she loves it.)

A few weeks from now, I have to do a presentation about the “Desert Saints.” They were a group of Christians from the 4th century, who believed that struggle and self-sacrifice were an integral part of one’s spiritual development.

I have to say, that it’s something that I connected with right away. If I’m too comfortable, complacency sets in, so for me, some discomfort is necessary to keep me on track. Since I’m an introverted person, it’s easy to find things that make me uncomfortable.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my life as a Christian has been full of adversity. There are years of my life that I wonder how I got through them without completely losing my mind. I love being comfortable. In fact, I prefer comfort, but there’s something about going through a good battle and coming out alive that energizes me and reaffirms my faith in the God who got me through it all.

I always hate going through the tough times, but with each level I pass successfully, I learn something new. Life isn’t just about pursuing happiness, getting what you want, and making sure your people are well. It is about passing along what you’ve learned to others.

One interesting thing about Antony, one of the desert saints I read about, is that, while he lived in isolation for much of his life, he didn’t keep the blessings from God to himself.

He taught people and prayed with them, miraculous things happened, as a result. He wasn’t just eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. He used his years of struggle and sacrifice to allow God to work through him to help others.

I was initially attracted by the “away from people” aspect of his spiritual life, but I also know that I can never completely disengage because there is always someone who needs encouragement or support. A life in ministry is not one I would have chosen for myself, but now that I know “what”, I have to keep the “why” in perspective.

The first act of my life was all about me. My job; my feelings; my wants and needs, but the second act is all about what I can do to serve God best.
So far, I’ve got being kind and respectful to people with different belief systems, and being less hostile to fellow saints whom I believe are too exclusive and cliquey.
(It turns out, I’m much better at the former than I am at the latter. Oops)

Before I started school, a friend told me that the person I’ll be once I leave school will be different from the person who started. I didn’t know what she meant, at the time, but I’m already noticing a difference. Whatever happens along the way, whether it be a struggle or a peaceful journey, I pray that my experience will help someone else.

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Talking About God Sunday:Answering the Call

Last week, I had my first university classes in 14 years. I was nervous but excited about the challenges ahead. (I know there will be challenges. For sure.) I also know–within the depths of my soul–that I am doing the right thing. I know this because even when I was unsure of what was to come, I had an irrational sense of peace.

One of my first assignments was to write a 750 word essay about the call and the character of preachers and worship leaders. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that me writing 750 words is not difficult. (Limiting my writing to 750 words is an issue, however.) I knew that this essay is just one of many, but in the past four days it has felt like the most important essay in the history of the world. 

My latent perfectionist tendencies came back, and I went through 2 rough copies and 3 good copies before I decided it was good enough. True to form, it still wasn’t good enough for me, but it is done, and that’s the important thing. Writing the essay got me to thinking about why I, a) Decided to go back to college, and b) Decided to go to a seminary college from which I would become an ordained minister upon graduation.

I figured out quickly that I did not do it because the prominence and high profile of a worship leader attracts me. I did not as my mother puts it, “Sign up for a holler and a collar.” I do not have any agenda aside from encouraging people who feel insecure and alone, and explaining God and the bible in a way that a child will understand.  (Also, telling people that God is not some scary dude with a beard that does not want people to have any fun.)

For me, the calling of a preacher is something that I ran away from for 7 years. I did not want to do it. I did not think that I would be able to do the role of a pastor or the word of God any justice. In one of my textbooks (The Witness of Preaching by Thomas G. Long), the author wrote that some preachers take to the pulpit eagerly, and others take to it reluctantly. I would not say that I am reluctant; I am cautious, but not reluctant. I’m cautious in a way that a truck driver is when he is driving up a steep icy hill. One false move has the potential to be deadly. I feel the weight of that responsibility whenever I have to speak/write/read God’s word. 

As a member of the congregation, I like to hear the word of God preached in a way that is inclusive, accessible, and most importantly, true to the text. Some of the most powerful sermons I’ve heard incorporate biblical verses in ways that I can apply to my life. They also give me a glimpse of the preacher’s identity, whether through personal stories, testimonies about how they overcame struggles, and rhetorical questions that force me to think of the scripture in a new way. (I also like what my dad refers to as, “Hard words”. Sermons that offer messages of hope and redemption as well as warnings for people to set higher standards.)

At this early stage,  I do not know what area of ministry God plans for me, but I know it will either be immediately apparent at my first ministry opportunity, or the result of 3 more years of blood, sweat, and tears. Either way, I am here for it. I believe that life experience has enabled us to relate to people in a unique way. The past season of my life was about toughening me up so I’d be able to fulfill my assignment without caring what others think. This season will be about refining my edges, so they aren’t as uncultivated.

So what do I think about the character and call of a worship leader/preacher?

1.There’s more work involved than anyone can imagine. (My parents are worship leaders. It is not easy.)

2. it is all about God.

3. No one can “make” God do anything, through worship or otherwise.

4. A person’s value has to come from the fact that God loves him or her.

5. Worship must be accessible, but not compromised.

6. It is not entertainment.

7. Humility, grace, love, truth, and having the ability to serve others (with gladness!) are key leadership qualities.

8. If church leadership is a true calling it will cost something. (You name it–friends, a job, family members…and the list goes on)

9. The people are not there to hear from me.

10. Ministry is more effective if you know and genuinely care about the people to whom you are in service. (Make no mistake, if you are a leader, you are in service!)

I knew there was a call on my life when I started slipping bible verses (well, the ones I remember anyway) into daily conversation. When I overheard a careless remark made by a former coworker against another, I gave them a 5 minute lecture about the fact that the same measure she used to judge others would be used against her. I knew I was called to minister when I woke up at 4 in the morning, praying for a relative that I don’t speak to much, only to find out that someone attempted to kill them at the exact moment I was praying. (They’re fine, thank God.)  I knew I was called after 4 people confirmed my call, in either direct or indirect ways.

If I had chosen this, it would not have taken me 7 years to do it. The fact that God chose me was amusing. I can communicate well in writing, but I am always too short or too long-winded when I speak. I don’t like crowds. Public speaking gives me anxiety, and I am not good at remembering which bible verse is in what book. I don’t like to be the center of attention, and don’t think I’m outgoing enough.

In an interesting twist, my lack of outward qualifications is what qualifies me.

I can’t help but be thankful for that.

Peace,

Erie

What To Do When The Sign You’ve Been Praying For is a Punch in the Face

I am not one of those “spooky” people. I am more apt to base my feelings and opinions on the reality of a situation, rather than a “sign”. That said, in the month since I resigned from my job, I have doubts, and the overwhelming feeling that I made the wrong decision.

I did what I normally do; pretend that everything is fine. Finally, at my wit’s end, I prayed for a sign–any sign–that my choice was the right one. It was all well at first. It seemed as though everything was going my way.

Then the bottom dropped out, and things started to go wrong. Part of the problem was my complacency. I am not one to panic, so I didn’t move with any urgency until the eleventh hour. After that, all signs pointed in one glaring direction: I was wrong.

In asking for a sign, I thought that I would see something that was overwhelmingly positive. I asked for a sign to encourage me to move forward. Instead, every sign is telling me to give up. I was looking for something spectacular. I found something simple instead.

When I had my first setback, I felt like giving up. Then it occurred to me; I want this to work,  but not for my sake. I want it to work because people who feel misunderstood need someone to talk and listen to them. Someone like me.

I remembered that this is not a choice; it is a calling. If I decide to ignore it, I would not be restless until I changed my mind. I was looking for encouragement, but what I needed to do was get the passion back.

One of my favourite books in the Bible is the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet, who was both disrespected because of his youth, and despised because of his role as an oracle of the God. In chapter 20, after speaking another corrective message to the people of Israel, he writes, “Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.” (Emphasis mine)

If I pay attention to how things look right now, I won’t move forward. But, in my experience, I always face the worst opposition when I am doing the right thing. (When I’m not, I’m pretty much ignored.) I don’t like anxiety, but in my case it helped me get perspective. If going to university was not the best decision, I wouldn’t care so much about the outcome.

My big “sign” was not a loud chorus, singing ‘Hallelujah’. It was not a talking fiery bush, or the stunning, come-from-behind victory.

It was a still, small voice, that said, “Keep moving ahead.”

Many times, when all signs point to, “no”, it means no, but sometimes all of the negatives are a “gut-check” to see how devoted one is to the completion of a task. Part of growing up is discerning which is which.

Ignoring obstacles does not end them. In order to solve them, I had to acknowledge them, and then do everything in my power to get over them.

It’s time for me to pick up my mantle and run with it.

Peace,

Erie

Off The Cuff Thursday: Man Plans, God Laughs

It seems as though I was born to be a planner. As a kid, every moment of my day was meticulously thought out and executed. I’m much better than I was, but a few decades ago, any unexpected detours in my life (or my day, for that matter) were met with unrelenting hostility.

When I turned 30 a few years ago, I finally caught on. Life is full of unexpected detours. In 2008, I was planning to go back to university, but a family crisis put my plans on hold indefinitely. At the time, I was going to study English, but in the two years since, I was steered toward my true calling. I made my plans, but God was laughing as if to say, “Don’t trip. You know I’m the boss of you.”

Which brings me to my second revelatory thought: It isn’t my job to put anyone in their place. I am good at discerning when a person is trying to intimidate me. And just like my favourite literary heroine, Lizzie Bennet, I get  braver when anyone tries to back me into a corner than I would have been had they just left me alone. (For some reason, no one has caught on to this yet.) On the other hand, just as it isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to “put me in my place”, it isn’t my duty to put anyone else in their place either. First of all, who gets to decide who goes where?

I once read a quote that said, “I have good news, and better news. The good news is, there is a God. The better news is, it isn’t you.” The way I see it if someone is acting as though they’re the king of the universe, they’ll eventually be humbled because pride always comes before a downfall. The most pitiful kind of loser is the one who is too arrogant to see that his or her defeat is imminent. While it is my right not to allow anyone to bully, threaten, or manipulate me, it is not my right to make them feel small to fulfill a bizarre sense of justice.

In the moments of my life when I got a little too cocky (for lack of a better word), something else came along that reminded me that, not only was I, not as great as I thought I was, I wasn’t as smart either. (I also learned that I only have control over me. That’s it.) And then my giant bobble-head deflated, and I floated back down to earth with the rest of the plebeians. Like it or not, the same thing will happen to you if you get too caught up in your own hype. (Don’t be so proud, you’re not that great. You’re not terrible, but you are not that great.)

It reminded me of the passage in the book of Job, where God says, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation”, and then he goes on and lists all of the things he has done, until Job responds, “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but have no answer–twice, but I will say no more.”

God’s rebuttal:

“Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong?
Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?
Do you have an arm like my arm?
Can you shout in thunder the way I can?
Go ahead, show your stuff.
Let’s see what you’re made of, what you can do.
Unleash your outrage.
Target the arrogant and lay them flat.
Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees.
Stop the wicked in their tracks—make mincemeat of them!
Dig a mass grave and dump them in it—
faceless corpses in an unmarked grave.
I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you—
you can surely save yourself with no help from me!”

When you know that there is someone higher than you, smarter than you, and more powerful than you, you are less likely to try control everything. (Note: I didn’t say it was impossible–somewhere in the world, there is a contingent of bossy Christians, wreaking havoc in their respective churches– it’s just less likely.)

In  your daily life, you may have a lot of pull, but God is the one holding all the strings.

Peace,

Erie

Talking About God Tuesday:Okay, Seriously, Shut Up!

There are two main types of lessons a person must endure before they learn the truth. The first lesson is straight to the point, blunt, and obvious. It is usually learned by hitting rock bottom, and once it has the desired effect, (to make a complete overhaul of one’s priorities) it is never repeated.

The other is something that is either taken for granted, or ignored completely. It is a behaviour, habit, or lifestyle that fits like a second skin. It is so intrinsic to the nature of a person that it would be difficult to imagine life without it. Because the behaviour is something that the person does not believe is wrong, the indictment to change is repeated over and over again until they get it.

For me personally, that message is simple: Shut up. My issue is such a pervasive one that the words, “Be quiet” are too nice. I am the first to admit that I have a problem with speaking out of turn, or as my mother calls it, “over-talking”. I have a habit of giving my opinion when it isn’t asked for, butting in on conversations that don’t involve me, and making snide remarks that I think are funny. (But are rude and insulting) Last year, I read a book called Respectable Sins by  Jerry Bridges. In it, Bridges lists all of the sins that we condone because they aren’t as egregious (to us) as the “big” ones. One of  those sins was the sin of using sarcasm and mockery as a form of humour.

Oh Snap.

I’m not often funny, but when I am, it’s because I’ve made some kind of sarcastic remark. My sarcasm helped me outwit my childhood bullies because I frequently mocked them to their faces without their knowledge. It’s my answer to every stupid question I have ever received. It’s my go-to response to backhanded compliments. It’s my shorthand. My daily speech. Basically, I don’t know how I would talk to people if I could never use sarcasm!

On Sunday, I was reminded–yet again–to watch what I say via an on-time sermon at church.

The text was Matthew 12:33-37 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

James put it this way: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself, and his religion is worthless.”

Worthless. All of the hand-clapping, hand raising, and church-attending rendered worthless because of a failure to shut up. I’m not saying that making snide remarks disqualifies a person from being a Christian. (If it did, I may as well throw in the towel!) But the words we speak have an uncanny ability to affect our lives. Whether the change is positive or negative, depends on what we say and why we say it.

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon lists the six things that God hates (the seventh is detestable): haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissention among brothers. (6:16-19)

Good and evil cannot exist in the same space because one will always overtake the other. If I want to identify myself as a Christian, I have two options. The first is to make a concerted effort to keep my snarky comments to a minimum. I won’t always succeed, but the fact that I will be paying more attention to what I say means that I’ll be less likely to say something offensive carelessly. The second option is to find another religion because apparently, I’m too lazy to be a Christian.

Personally, I’m cool with the former. I’m a lot better at screening out the comments, remarks, and questions that aren’t beneficial, and I haven’t referred to anyone as an idiot–to their face or otherwise–in a month. (Baby steps, people, baby steps)

Besides, do I really want to tempt fate by defying a rule that has been so clearly stated?

If God wants me to “shut up”,  I don’t have a choice. I could go against Him, but my arms are too short to box with my Dad, let alone, trying to box with God!

As a reminder to myself, here are four verses:

“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbour, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.”  (Shut-up) Proverbs 11:12

“If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth!” (Shut-up) Proverbs 30:32

“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (Please, shut-up) Proverbs 13:3

“Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” (No, seriously, SHUT-UP!) Psalms 34:12-13

(repeat as necessary)

If you find yourself going through a rough patch. No matter what you do, you’re not satisfied or content. Everyone else seems happier and more relaxed than you, and whatever you try to do turns out wrong, you are either experiencing one of life’s many trials…or it was something you said.

Now go and fix it.

Peace,

Erie

Talking About God Tuesday:Chronicles Of An Insecure Prophet

Jeremiah started out as a deeply insecure young man. He was called to be a prophet to the nations which meant that he had to say whatever God told him to say, regardless of how it would be received. Prophets are given special insight into how God is going to operate. They warn of upcoming danger, encourage those who have lost hope, and speak God’s message to whomever they are with.

Jeremiah did not feel up to the task. When God revealed Jeremiah’s destiny to him, Jeremiah’s response was, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”

(A.K.A. “They won’t listen to me!”)

God’s reply, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”  It was a declaration of his faith in Jeremiah’s ability to do what he was called to do. My pastor always says, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.” If God asks you to do anything, He will make a way for you to do it.

When you have, been graced to do something (especially if it is for God), the only thing that can revoke it is your willingness to attain it. When Jeremiah hears what God wants him to do, he brings up the only thing that will disqualify him: his age. As a prophet, he will have to speak God’s word to people twice his age, most of whom will not like what he has to say.

In order for Jeremiah to fulfill God’s purpose for his life, he had to get over his inferiority complex. The truth of the matter is that Jeremiah was qualified because he was blessed by God.

No one can usurp God’s authority.

In a way, Jeremiah’s trepidation was understandable. Prophets, by their nature, are uncompromising truth-tellers. Their role is to either build you up, or tear you down, to either build something or destroy it, depending on what the situation warrants. While everyone glories in being built up, being torn down is never welcome. Yet this is what young Jeremiah had to do. He had to tell the people of Israel that if they continued to be unfaithful to God, they would have to live with the consequences of their actions.

People don’t like to hear that their actions have ramifications, so most prophets were either forced to flee for their lives, persecuted, or killed. When Jeremiah tells God he doesn’t know how to speak, he is thinking about how he, as a young man, will be accepted by the people.

Well, Jeremiah wasn’t accepted. He prophesies, prays, and complains in 52 more chapters. He is plotted against. He calls out false prophets who only tell people what they want to hear, and he says verbatim what God told him to regarding the people of Israel.

In order for Jeremiah to get over his insecurity with people, he had to find security with God. When God told Jeremiah, “I have put my words in your mouth.” He confirmed what Jeremiah was too afraid to believe. He was the only one who could do what he was supposed to.

He knew that God always had his back, even as his enemies were trying to kill him. (They really don’t like hearing the truth!) And God did have his back. Israel was defeated by her enemies because the people refused to heed Jeremiah’s (God’s) warnings. Jeremiah started out as an insecure young man, but he became a holy prophet, who was powerful in speech, intransigent in his resolve, and entirely dependent on God to lead him.

One of the most well-known verses in this book is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah had his share of setbacks, but because he knew that God would be there for him always, he was able to accomplish what God said he would do, even though the outcome wasn’t quite what he was expecting.

Pretty decent for a youngster.

Peace,

Erie

Off The Cuff Thursday:More Fun Than Farmville

Here’s what is on my mind today.

Luminosity. Since I am (slowly) approaching middle age, I decided to invest in some brain training, so I don’t lose my edge when I’m older. (Don’t judge me) The site Lumosity.com promises to improve your overall brain wellness and performance by giving your mind a workout via a series of games. The games test your mental speed, flexibility, problem solving, attention, and memory. I’ve only been playing for a few weeks, but according to my overall scores, I am best at games that involve memory (like, really good), attention (I’m focused, man), flexibility (being able to change gears quickly), and problem solving (Never underestimate my ability to figure stuff out). (Speed? Meh, but I’m improving) Mind you, anything that involves strict attention to details and memorization is right up my alley.

Nearly 28 years spent in introspective solitude has helped me learn how to focus on what I’m doing while simultaneously tuning out what is going on around me. This is a good thing because I don’t get distracted easily. On the other hand, I don’t always notice things that are kind of a big deal. I was waiting for my ride outside of a mall one day, iPod blaring, and nose in a book, when a shoplifter ran by me while being chased by the police. Apparently, it was a big commotion, but I had no idea because I was so absorbed in what I was reading. I didn’t even know what happened until a coworker asked me what happened when the police arrested the shoplifter. She saw more in the store than I did when I was only a few feet away.

I wouldn’t be a good double agent.

There’s strength in weakness. This past Tuesday, when I was preparing my “Talking About God” post, I had a revelation. When the people of Judah pointed out the weak, unguarded spots in the wall, Nehemiah sent reinforcements to protect them. If he ignored the weak spots, or pretended they were strong, he wouldn’t have been able to complete the wall. (What, with all the enemies he had) All of us are afraid to admit that we are weak. We don’t know it all. We will make mistakes. We are not perfect. (And that’s okay!) The only way to combat a weakness is to acknowledge its existence because if we refuse to take responsibility, ask questions, or admit when we’re wrong, or biased, we won’t be able to proceed.

God is telling me something. Every time I read my Bible, listen to the news, and talk to my friends, one message dominates: don’t give up. When I watch the news, there’s a feature on someone who faced opposition who was greater either in number or in strength–and won. My study time this week was all about Nehemiah, who trumped his opposition with faith and perseverance. All of my Christian facebook friends are posting about not settling for mediocrity, not compromising your ideals to be popular, maintaining a grateful heart, and standing up for what is right. People who don’t believe in God think we’re all nuts for believing that he communicates with us. (I think Lily Tomlin said it best: “Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?” I’ve been wondering that myself)

Sometimes God’s way of communicating with you is by repeating messages he wants you to hear through various sources. This week, I’ve heard the “don’t give up” message in a book I was reading, in an email, and while listening to a pastor on TV. I will be a fighter until the day I die, but even we need encouragement.

Message received.

Bully Bait? There was a guy on the radio today who was talking about how he did an extensive study that proved some children were genetically predisposed to being the target of subtle or overt bullying. Yeah, it’s called being small, introverted, bookish, and non-athletic. An intensive study was not necessary.

Live Long and Prosper. Recently I listened to a documentary about the people who live in Blue Zones. There are entire regions known for having a higher-than-usual population of  male centenarians. From what I heard, the rules to living a long life are simple: 1. Eat well/healthy, 2. Exercise (most of the men were shepherds, and their wives were just as active), 3. Don’t take crap from anyone, 4.Be grateful, 5.Don’t get stressed, 6. Laugh, 7. Maintain ties with family and friends, 8. Believe in something.  9. Be resourceful. 10. Share.

Sounds easy enough.

Peace,

Erie

Off The Cuff Thursday:One Mature Friend

This is what is on my mind today:

Not Your Grandfather’s Evening News:  To date,  I have heard more  news reporting about that phone prank (which wouldn’t have been as tragic if the media had just left the nurse out of it), a rhesus monkey walking around IKEA  in a cute shearling coat, and fiscal cliffs, than I have about the aftermath of the typhoon in the Philippines, the ongoing turmoil in Syria, and the new protests in Egypt combined. Again, our priorities are strange.

Go Hard Or Go Home:  Yesterday, I set a personal record at work by breaking down 6 pallets of product in 4 hours. Sure, it took me an additional hour to clean up the mess I made afterward, but the point is I did it (I had help from my coworker, who, to  protect his privacy, I will refer to as “Hercules”. He moved all of the giant stuff). Thank God that I moved them so quickly! Two pallets showed up later that day, and seven more pallets of books and toys were delivered this morning. Sigh.

More Fun Than Sitting On The Couch:   Speaking of which, I am so glad I committed to maintaining an active lifestyle as a young person. I would not have had the stamina to move 6 pallets in four hours otherwise.

One Good Turn Deserves Another: On Tuesday a lady who I occasionally give boxes to, dropped by my work and gave me a card, some homemade sugar cookies,  a letter, and a box of chocolates. The boxes I normally  give her are the leftovers that would have otherwise been thrown in the recycling bin, and I don’t mind sharing. (Plus it saves me from having to place them in the bin. Anything to improve efficiency!) It’s a small act of kindness, but, as she wrote in her letter, 82,000 new moms were given books for their infants because I gave her our spare boxes. I’ve loved books since I was a toddler, and the fact that I’m indirectly passing on the love of reading warms my heart.

Everyone Needs A Grown-Up Friend:  I have decided that everyone needs at least one well-adjusted, mature friend, who isn’t needy, gossipy, envious, spiteful, or co-dependent. They’re great because they’ve been through a lot (grown-up friends are at least 10 years older than you). They will call you on your bratty, self-indulgent behaviour because they aren’t dazzled by how fabulous you are, and they will tell you the truth–even when it hurts–because they love you. Like family, they care about you too much to allow you to live a substandard life, and they offer advice, support, and excellent company. I have a few grown-up friends and I highly recommend having one. (Or twelve!)

Fix Up, Look Sharp: In spite of the fact that I spend 40 hours a week in a warehouse, I wear make-up every day. My standard uniform is a collared black shirt (because anything lighter coloured is filthy by the end of the day), dark denim jeans, and steel-toed boots (Plus a hoodie or two because it’s drafty in the warehouse). If I don’t wear make-up, I look like a teenage girl, which, isn’t a bad thing, but I’m tired of answering the question, “So when do you graduate from high school?” (13 years ago). I also wear it because it’s a fun way to express my personal style.  Outside of work I usually wear dressy tops with slacks or nice jeans, or oversize shirts and yoga pants when I’m home. I believe it’s important to dress your age because believe it or not, your clothes can age you–for better or for worse.

Talking About God: I’m really vocal about my beliefs because I know I would not be the person I am today without God’s presence in my life. Sometimes I come across as ‘preachy’ or as though I have it all together, but I don’t. I, like everyone else in this world, am still learning. I am still a work in progress, and I am willing to share what I do know in the hope that it might help someone else. When I became a Christian, I made a promise to put God first. Since I place God first, I cannot (and will not) look down on other people because He loves them also. I have more confidence, peace, security, and love because of my relationship with God, and I am not shy about sharing it. Each person has to choose his or her own path toward wisdom. I like mine.

 

That’s about all I could fit today 😀

Peace,

Erie

Off The Cuff Thursday: I’m A Workaholic (and other stuff)

Here’s what is on my mind today:

I am an unrepentant workaholic. While I am at work, I am hopelessly devoted to my tasks. (I don’t even pay attention to my outward conditions. Work is the only thing I’m interested in) I’m so devoted that sometimes my supervisor has to remind me to take my lunch break. I used to work through them, but was gently reminded by my boss that I am required, by law, to rest for 30 minutes (the length of my break). On the other hand, when I’m resting, I am really resting. Last July, my immediate family went to Ontario leaving me to fend for myself for 12 days. I loved it because I didn’t have to keep my house in pristine condition. It worked in my favor because I really didn’t want to do anything other than eat, sleep, read, and exercise. I am hardworking while on the job, yet surprisingly sloth-like when I want to relax.

I have 1 month left in my 100 book reading challenge, and I’m on book #88. I initially started with a set list of books I wanted to read, but half way through I was like, “I’m reading whatever I want.” It has led to some interesting discoveries.

The last book I read was A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I decided to read it after hearing that several U.S. Christian bookstores declined to stock it. (I’m contrary) When approached for comment, one of the bookstore owners responded by saying that they were not going to sell it because the author’s previous title hadn’t sold well. I, as a seasoned bookstore employee, beg to differ. (And also, Shenanigans!) The store I work for carries thousands of titles. Our vendors run the gamut from large, established publishing houses, to small, self-published titles that we stock on a consignment basis (it’s rare, but it happens). Some of the books we stock are immediate bestsellers. Some are word-of-mouth sleepers. Some of the titles don’t sell at all, but we don’t refuse a title just because the author’s last book wasn’t a hit. (If that were true, we wouldn’t have received so many copies of Snooki’s latest novel.) Having read the book, I think their beef is not with the author’s book sales. The book has a few issues that church folk get all highfalutin about. Like sex (believe it or not, there are lots of racy passages in the Bible, and she mentions them in her book), and women becoming pastors (most evangelicals are firmly in the “no” camp). Her views are progressive, and that’s a problem for most old-school believers. The truth is we[Christians] all pick and choose which parts of the bible we staunchly ascribe to…and which ones we ignore. Every Christian is the same in this regard, and none of us has the right to judge her because she interprets the word of God differently than we do. In the past, the Bible has been used to defend slavery, spousal abuse, murder, racism, and polygamy. It has also been used to defend the rights of the poor, loving your enemies, and taking care of foreigners. If Christians are really supposed to be the moral authority, we need to follow the example of Jesus. He didn’t hang out with church folks; he hung around with prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors and foreigners. He had a female disciple (Mary Magdalene), and went about doing his father’s business, completely unintimidated by naysayers. He spread his message by treating everyone with love and respect. Now that’s an example I’d like to follow.

I was in a really good mood today. I didn’t complain when I had to move an entire pallet of cafe supplies because the employees from the coffee shop we share a warehouse with forgot to do it. I was singing while I unpacked 4 pallets of books and toys (yes–toys) and my boss caught me dancing while listening to my iPod. (And she teased me about it) Thank God for joy.

I hope you all are enjoying your day 🙂

Erin