Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It Doesn't Look A Thing Like Christmas (2013)

I'm not going to sugar coat it; Christmas doesn't feel or even resemble Christmas this year. I'm not with family, I'm living alone in a tiny little apartment in Oklahoma City. My family is in Indiana, and even they aren't celebrating in what you could consider to be a traditional style. No one I know is. I've not run across one single person who is doing what they normally do. It's either because of weather, work, money, family, or other situations, but this year Christmas is just ...well, not Christmas!

I don't have a single garland hanging; there was no reason to hang decorations if I live alone. I don't have a tree up, no decorations, and I haven't purchased a single present to wrap. I bought things for my kids and grandkids and I boxed them up about two weeks ago, sending them through the United States Postal Service; at least I wrapped the exterior in bright yellow paper so they would be easy to see in the piles of other boxes at the distribution centers. Something I never do, but I did. I mailed off Christmas presents. It was the beginning (I think) of what became (or is) the strangest little Christmas ever. Could I go up to Arcadia to see my parents and siblings? I don't know, maybe, but I don't want to. I love my parents, my brother, my sisters, nieces and nephews, but I'm not motivated to drive 30 miles to eat with people I rarely speak to. It seems like a waste of time, but in reality it's not even possible this year due to another strange event that just took place out of no where.  The Black Friday Target Scandal...I'm actually a victim!

My best friend Jeannie and I went shopping on Black Friday, after the crowds of course, and one of our stops was at my neighboring Target store. I think I did spend about $300 there on gifts for my family, food, and the things I have to have to survive for the month of December, as I'm paid only once a month as a teacher and Black Friday was the day I was paid actually. The last day of the month fell on a weekend; so we were paid a day early. That actually turned out to be a bad thing.  I was one of over 40,000,000 others whose credit card information was taken by thieves. The week following Black Friday I was wiped out completely. It was a very good thing for me that I had already paid my rent, car payment, insurance, and other necessary bills. It did leave me without extra money for food after the 15th of the month, and gasoline for my car was certainly an issue. I did manage to have JUST enough gas to get back and forth to work until the day we were let out for Christmas break. God has a sense of humor! Now I'm literally stuck in my apartment with very little food but at least I'm safe and sound. I have the dogs to keep me company, and I have the ineternet as well as television and Netflix to keep me entertained. (oh, but I really should be studying for the Common Core test to get my Principal's certificate!)

No decorations, no tree, no garland, no traditional food and really no Christmas spirit...with the one exception that I'm well aware that over 2000 years ago, and probably not on December 25, a baby was born to Mary and Joseph; two fine upstanding citizens of the City of David. To them our Savior was born, and this is what Christmas is to me...a celebration of His birth.  It's appropriate that I only have animals to share it with since He was born in a barn and laid in a manger that first night. Doves are outside my apartment on my balcony eating the last seeds I had to offer them until I'm paid or the bank returns my disputed funds in a few days. God takes care of His creatures, every last one of us. This is the meaning of Christmas. It's OK if I don't have presents under a non-existent tree. It's OK if I don't have mounds of food to feed myself, friends, family, or anyone else. It's OK if I just sit quietly studying for the future, because Jesus is the reason I have a future.

What does Christmas even look like?  Today it looks sunny, bright, cold, and as the ice melts off my car and balcony, Christmas looks wet and shiny.  Merry Christmas to you. Now I have to go snuggle with the dogs for a while - - and call my grandbabies and kids!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rapture / Rosh Hashanah 2013 - Yes, Please!

When I so much as mention the word "Rapture" in a conversation I am usually met with either the overt ignorant statement "God says no man knows the day or hour so we can't guess when it will happen!"  Or I'm met with head-shaking (from Christians and non-believers) who just aren't prepared for the taking out of the Church for one reason or the other. I get it - you're busy, you're not ready to give up all you've either already achieved, or the potential of what you could possibly achieve. For me...I'd rather give it all up, never attempt another project  or goal again,  and rest eternally with  Jesus, but that's just me...or maybe not.

When I began doing my research about the Rapture I realized that I had been born with a disadvantage concerning the matter. I was born a Baptist.  I was raised with ministers, pastors, brethren, preachers and teachers all telling me that no man could know the  hour or the day. It wasn't as if they understood the meaning of the very words they were repeating; to each one of them goes the credit of knowing what is written in God's word, but...and this is a BIG but...it was a riddle more than anything. You see, God gave Israel 7 feasts (actually appointed times) that they were, as a people, to honor, observe and celebrate. Each of these appointed times had prophecies concerning their fulfillment and ultimately explaining God's  eternal plan for Israel.  The first 4 feasts (or appointed times) are in the spring of each year. The last 3 feasts are in the fall.  When Jesus was on the Earth He literally fulfilled 4 of these feasts, and they were EACH AND EVERY ONE fulfilled ON THE DAY of one of the feasts and/or appointed times...TO THE LETTER. I capitalized that for a reason - because it was and is FACT.

The four spring feasts were fulfilled at the death, burial, resurrection of Christ and then the giving of the Holy Spirit.  You can YouTube for more accurate information concerning these events.  The 5th feast is the first fall feast, and it is Rosh  Hashanah. In English is it known as the Feast of the Trumpets. (Trumpets?  Really? Aren't the believers in Christ going to be called to Heaven at the Last Trump of God?) If believers have no issues believing that they will be caught up (Hebrew word "harpazo" meaning "caught up") then why would they balk at saying it will happen at the time of Rosh Hashanah?  BECAUSE...Christians have issues with dates. You can't possibly KNOW the day or the hour...right? There is a reason for that. Out of the  7 feasts and/or appointed times, there are 6 that take place on specific dates - but ONLY one that takes place at the very crescent of the start of the new moon - - Rosh Hashanah. Because it could be this day, or the next day, NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY.  New moons are not 100% predictable - at least they weren't  in Biblical days - remember, this holy day preceded Christ!  Because the new moon celebration had to be documented and the people of Israel did not know the exact day - or the exact hour  that the new moon would show up, they couldn't say with certainty when the holy day (feast day) began.  Only the High Priest had the authority to proclaim it - - when two witnesses brought proof to him.

GOD set the moon. God knows the day and the hour it will show itself. HE alone knows the minute.  We are called to be prepared, we are commanded to look up and watch! Luke 21:28 says "When these things begin, look up! Your redemption is nigh!"  YES...what things?  We already know that too: wars, rumors of war (is there a difference? YES there is.)  Think about Syria, consider that the country is in war, and today the US is spreading rumors of going to war with that country.  We  have  never done that - - before we just went!  Think about Egypt.  Think about what is happening to the great Nile.  Ethiopia is closing up the gates to the river and it is causing more rumors of war! Think about the famines, the destruction, and how EVERY nation surrounding Israel is against her now...just like Ps.83 says will happen. IF you have time, I encourage you to look into that too,  as every nation mentioned in Ps.83 is to THE VERY LETTER of their ancient names going against Israel today - September 4, 2013.  Rosh  Hashanah is tomorrow or the next day!

COULD IT BE?  CAN IT BE?  MAYBE?   WHAT IF?  I say yes, please.  Do yourself a favor and watch this series of videos by Perry Stone: Rapture and Rosh Hashanah  (parts 1-3) and go listen to a few of J .D. Farag's Middle East Prophecy Updates on YouTube to familiarize yourself with what could very well be our last day on Earth - - unless of course, it's not. It could be that it is another year away. We may  have to go a while longer - - but there will be a day. There will be an hour - - just because we don't KNOW it now doesn't mean it isn't real.  I can't wait - - personally, I'm excited cause it means I get to be healthy again. My broken body will be replaced, and I'll be able to ride again, do backflips, and hey - - no more car payments!!  Oh, and the IRS won't call me again. LOL

I don't think the Rapture is meant to clear up our credit issues - - but I for one, will not be here to argue with anyone seeking repayment!  Nope...I'm looking forward to getting married....what? You didn't know?  Well, maybe you should do a bit of research while you have time. If you're a believer you're getting married to Christ immediately following the Rapture!  WHAT?  Yep!!  I can't think of a better eternity....It may not be this year, but I really really hope it is.

Clues that the Rapture took place and you missed it:  (1) all the children are gone  (2) all the special people on earth are gone (3) airplanes fall from the sky cause pilots were taken (4) cars go crazy on the highways and that crazy woman who won't stop talking about the Rapture...me, well, I'm gone too.  PLEASE...someone, feed my dogs.  If you're reading this and the Rapture hasn't happened, and maybe you're not a believer, please ask Jesus to save you.  It's not hard - - just know He will if you ask. Confess your sins, desire to change, and with your mouth ask Him to save you. PLEASE...Heaven has enough room for all of us.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Root it Out....Literally.

I'm a big time ginger fan. I love the root, think it's one of the best ones God ever made. One of the reasons I love it so much is its flavor of course but the ginger root also carries with it a major power-punch of energy; not to mention it can help save your life! Ginger has for thousands of years been added to foods and teas to help soothe soreness and promote good blood circulation, I also add it to my green teas to give it a bit of a kick. It helps to reduce stress, it helps to lower cholesterol and body fat. Why wouldn't I drink it? I should be downing ginger green tea by the gallons. I probably will be in the very near future. I'm sick and tired of being fat and lazy. Ginger picks you up physically because it promote the reproduction of red blood cells, it literally pumps your blood and gets you off your keister! YEA ginger!

For years I was a good and faithful student of the way my body reacted when I added green tea and ginger as a regular means of liquid replenishing. I've just stopped, and there's no reason for it. I'm a lazy person now, and that has to stop. I moved from Oklahoma City to Indianapolis about three years ago, and I remember when I lived in Oklahoma I was always moving, walking, jogging, riding my bike, or horses -- I wasn't sitting on the computer all day surfing LinkedIn, Facebook, and Gmail. Nope, I was working, walking, and pouring that ginger infused green tea down my throat. I also remember not being sick in Oklahoma, even though so many of my friends had horrific allergies in the spring I didn't. I did before I started drinking ginger in my tea, but after the practice - clear! Why would I stop? Lazy, just no excuses, and I won't even blame the kids, which is what I normally do. Nope, me, all me, just one fat, lazy woman, and that must stop now.

Today Laura and I went to the store and we were about to shop for groceries when I found myself walking down an aisle literally filled with chips and dips, crackers, party snacks, colorful and salty, some sweet, some just fabulous fattening and full of saturated fats. I thought to myself and then out loud "Why am I doing this to myself?" Laura looked at me and said "You're right, Mom. We're the ones picking this stuff up. We don't have to. So, let's get good stuff now." Wow, yes, it is possible to stop right in the middle of an aisle you feel so at home in and just turn your back and say NO MORE. I went through my kitchen pantry in my mind. I could see the sweets, the fats, the oily stuff. I could see the cakes, the cookies, snacks, puddings, simply all the fast grab-n-go foods that we think we need. I could rattle off about twelve things I know I don't need. I DO NOT NEED Oreo cookies. I do not need fatty Ruffles potato chips. I do not need cheeses, brownies, toaster pastries, and no, I don't need Mike & Ike candies. I only pop a few Mike & Ikes randomly, I told myself it wasn't that big of a deal, but you know what -- it's become a big deal. I feel like going through the kitchen and throwing it out, but instead I'll ask my kids if they want the stuff. I do hate throwing away good food products. I say "good" with a giggle, but still, just because I've decided to turn away doesn't mean everyone else has to.

I walked up and down the aisles and looked really carefully at what our stores sell us. It's our own fault when we give into the loud colors of marketing, and the flashy commercial ads which hide from us the fact that this or that cookie holds twice as many calories as a good heaping of cottage cheese or an apple. Once you pass the produce section of the store you get yourself into trouble. Immediately at the stores I can think of you find yourself in the frozen food section where you're bombarded with tempting ice creams, frozen yogurts, fast-food pizza rolls, deli pizzas, and some of the most amazing frozen foods ever made - - Pillsbury Grands! HOW can you say no to GRANDS? Easy. Grands are OK, but I don't stop with one, I get two, and I always put butter and jelly on them. Sometimes when I'm really bad I put Philadelphia Cream Cheese's new Indulgence dark chocolate cream cheese on my Grands, and this is the very very reason I must say no to Grands from now on. I'm not saying you have to go cold turkey and give up everything because that can cause a person to become resentful and upset. I believe in substitutions. What can I have in the mornings instead of a fluffy Grand biscuit? Healthy whole-wheat cereal and fruit. I can add walnuts and make it even better. Walnuts may be expensive, but they help your blood to flow better, reduce chances of diabetes, lower cholesterol, and all without hyping you up with bright packaging that you have to find a recycling bin for - - so, it's settled. I'm stopping all the madness today, and I'm going right back to my heart healthy plan of being both active and full of more energy - naturally. I even told Laura I don't want to get salads in bulk so we'll have to go to the store a few more times and walk the entire store wall to wall to put in that much more exercise than we would if we just showed up and got what we need. She's good with that.

Laura and I picked up more in the produce section than we normally do; fruits, veggies, nuts, and avocados. I know no one really knows where to put them on food charts. I put them with fruits, but then again, I put tomatoes with fruits and everyone laughs at me. I picked up Roma tomatoes for their flavor today; they'll make excellent salsa, and yes, you can still have a few whole wheat crackers or chips with your salsa; sans the salt if you can find the reduced or no salt added boxes. It's just that much better for you. I'm the type that loves to eat almonds all day, and if you're willing to do that, and add berries to a smoothie with yogurt and honey, well, it won't take too long before you're back on track. Your belly will thank you, and so will the other parts of your gut like your intestines, once they figure out that you're not just making a change for the weekend. It has to be a real change, it has to be a life change, not a month change, or worse a change that you can easily get bored with. You don't need the sugar, and you don't need the fats. Well, you don't...and that's me saying YOU to ME because I'm talking to myself here, I do not need it, and I do not want it anymore. I want ME back...ME. The other day I stood in front of the mirror and I didn't even want to see who was in the darn thing - - I didn't like her. I didn't know her and she was invading my personal space. Her belly hung over her pants, her skin wasn't pretty like it use to be, and she wasn't able to move the way she use to, it's just not fun being me at this point and time in my life. I MUST DO something, and so I made the choice.

YEA...I do feel better, and it will take weeks, even a few months to get back to where I can say I am happy about who I am again, but it has to start somewhere and that somewhere is with my tea. MORE ginger than before, more parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - - what, you thought that was just lyrics? Nope!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Retiring the Mutt

Most of you know that Faith the Dog (www.faiththedog.info) is my dog. She is the one that has for the past 10+ years lived under my bed during the day, and she sleeps with me during the night, taking up more than her fair share of the queen-sized bed. The queen-sized bed also happens to be the place where the other dogs in my family find rest at night as well. Most of the time I am sandwiched between the yellow dog and the Dachshund (a rescue) named George that I just happened to stumble across while desperately looking for another dog. Faith is my main mutt. She's the one I've traveled the world with. She's the one I've spent too many hours on the road with, visiting too many airport bathrooms with while dragging both her and my suitcases. She's the dog I sit next to in the airplane, she's the dog I carry over my shoulders while dragging the suitcase and shaking hands with kids and other passersby who are more than happy to watch the show as I try to balance the dog and drag the suitcase through O'Hare or Washington Dulles at rush hour trying to get to the next terminal. Faith is the best dog out there; how many other dogs do you know who would put up with hundreds of kids petting them, screaming and laughing asking questions? How many other dogs do you know who right after these said screaming and laughing petters would be the first to jump in a hospital bed to see another one who wasn't strong enough to leap down to do the petting on the floor? That's my girl. Faith is the one dog I've ever ever owned who if you say "Let's go" is out the door before you can get your keys and it doesn't matter if we're just going to the bank or to an opening of a new pet store; she treats the ride as if we're going to Paris on a big jet-liner and she's going to be served her First Class cookies and cream. (But it's probably because she is hoping for the cookies and cream treatment, just sayin') After ten full years of traveling, visiting, public speaking, and greeting soldiers at bases and airports alike, Faith the Dog is retiring from all public appearances. She has in the past 10 years met with leaders of our nation up to the highest level. She has been kicked off the White House lawn for sticking her nose in the fence to get a better look at a squirrel. She has jumped into the National Reflection Pool, and laid beneath the WWII monuments for a rest. She's scaled the steps of the Thomas Jefferson monument to interrupt a school tour. She has interrupted a funeral as well, and a really cool wedding in King of Prussia one evening as her manager and I were conversing and not paying attention to where she had just wandered off to. She is the constant reminder of what it is like to travel with a toddler. She has the attention span of a 2 year old kid, and she's not afraid to pee in public if she needs to. This has happened...OH..so many times. My favorite was in front of the police in NYC on Broadway where yes, she walked and peed and literally created a little wet pretzel on the sidewalk. We all laughed. Faith has interrupted the Westminster Dog Show, news reports, and she's photo-bombed so many others to mention - YOU may have a photo bomb of my dog running through what would have been your moment in Chicago, the Original Starbucks, the Seattle Space Needle, or perhaps the Grand Canyon, she isn't shy about popping her face into your camera's len's eye. FAITH believes all applause if for her, and she thinks all cameras are aimed at her. It's just a way of life for her, so retirement hasn't really been all that easy. I've taken to taking the dog to the TV stations in Indianapolis and sitting for tea with the hosts just to pretend that she's being covered on one of their shows. They don't mind. She's always welcomed into the green rooms and on stage when no one is actually filming. She's been taken to openings of the new Barkafeller's in Avon, Indiana just so she could be seen hanging out with the really cool people and their dogs. She goes to the store and bank with me. Her thoughts may or may not be changing as we drive less and less to the actual airport, but because Indianapolis airport is open and very dog friendly, I can take her there just for the fun of it. I can afford a couple of dollars for parking to let her run around in her military ACU jacket and see as many soldiers as are available. She just doesn't get to go past security at this point. She's so awesome, security comes to her now. LOL Retiring the most famous and wonderful dog in the world has not been sad really. She and I have discussed if for a couple of years and I think she's good with it. As long as no one forgets her, and everyone loves her, she's good. Now, if you have a Flat Stanley or Flat Chuck that needs to be "seen" with Faith please send it to me (with a self-addressed stamped envelope) and I'll try to get that photo opportunity. I think she's met about 200 so far. Faith is and will forever be, the dog the world loves. The world needs FAITH and I think Faith enjoys knowing that the world is her arena too. She may not be up and at it for long, but her legacy (can I say that? Leg-acy?) will be that she is the most genuine dog out there - - nothing stops her from being a normal dog, not even the greater fame she has accomplished. She is what she is, and that is....FAITH. Thank you Faith for the many years of snuggling and cuddling, lessons, and laughter. It was all very worth it. I love you Yellow Dog.