March 29, 2010

Totally Clueless

Making fun of the disciples is almost too easy. Despite spending three years in close contact with Jesus, eyewitnesses to miracle after miracle, they remained totally clueless.

They saw Him drive demons out of pigs. They saw Him feed the multitudes. They saw Him walk on water. They saw Him repair broken lives by healing lepers and the lame. And not long before that fateful trip to Jerusalem, they saw Him raise His friend, Lazarus from the dead.

Despite all of that, and the times that Jesus had foretold His own death and resurrection, they must not have expected Christ to literally rise from the dead. If they had, they'd have been at the tomb Sunday morning instead of hiding out, as they had been for 3 days.

I understand. I'm often clueless about God, too. 

I get the part about nothing being impossible with God. At least part of me gets it. The other part is thinking, "it may not be impossible, but it's certainly improbable."

Is that what the disciples were thinking in their hidy hole? Did any of them say it out loud? Were they afraid to believe that God is, indeed, able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine?

Did they think it was just hoping for too much?

Or did they ever consider the possibility that Christ could defeat death? Did they question their instincts in devoting three years to following the carpenter from Nazareth? Did they begin to wonder if they had imagined the miracles they had seen with their own eyes?

Do I do the same thing? Do I sometimes forget the times I have witnessed God work in my own life? Do I sometimes hesitate to ask because it just seems like it's more than God can do?

I have to confess that the answer is yes.

It's hard to make fun of the disciples when I realize I'm no better than they were.

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! 
Mark 9:24 (NIV)

March 25, 2010

From Cheers to Jeers

We've had a few laughs over the last few posts, but we're nearing the start of Holy Week, and it doesn't bring a lot of laughs.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, when we remember Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Huge crowds gathered to welcome Christ as He entered the city on a donkey, laying their cloaks and small branches in front of Him and singing from Psalm 118, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." It was an entry so spectacular, we call it the Triumphal Entry.  

Triumphal...what a word! It's as though you can hear the shouts of "Hosanna" and see the crowds waving and filled with excitement. But Christ knew by then that the warm feelings of the crowd towards Him would not survive the week.

What was it like to know that those cheers would turn to jeers in a matter of days?

I will forever be indebted to Ken Warren, a former staff member at my church, who once preached a Palm Sunday message about what it was like to be Christ, knowing how the week would end. It changed my view of Palm Sunday forever. I no longer think of it as a high point for Jesus. Now I wonder if there was a sick feeling in the pit of His stomach as He watched the crowd from that donkey.

Ken talked about the way that we tend to dismiss Palm Sunday as a parade, a time of jubilation, separating it from the rest of the story...the part where Jesus sacrificed His own life so that we could have eternal life.

He ended his message by showing us a brief video clip of another parade that ended badly. A time when a leader entered a city, greeted by cheering crowds, only to die in that city a short time later.

If President Kennedy had known how the trip to Texas would end, would he have gone anyway? Surely not.

But that's exactly what Jesus did.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! ~ Philippians 2:5-9

March 24, 2010

eHarmony, eSchmarmony: The Conclusion

After trying researching eHarmony for several months and receiving an inordinate number of matches that filled my mind with images of Ernest T. Bass, I decided I was done.

My first clue that eHarmony was willing to play rough with the computer mouse came when I had a customer service question. One employee responded to my question, and then went on to add, "Margaret, I'd also like to take this opportunity to make a recommendation that I feel would improve your eHarmony experience. I see that you don't have a great photo posted. Please remember you are allowed to use the space provided to post up to 12 photos, allowing your matches to see the various aspects of your personality and interests."

My photo wasn't great? Does this clown know how long it took to come up with that photo, which I actually thought was pretty good? After all, most middle-aged single women don't have hundreds of pictures of themselves from which to choose.

I considered typing, “Thanks for your concern, but that’s what I look like.” Instead I thanked him for looking into my question and ignored the insult.

The next day, a second customer service rep emailed me with further information and then went on to add, "Margaret with your active account, I would like to take the time and encourage you to post more photos since it is part of a successful eHarmony experience. Posting as many photos as possible shows that you are fully engaged in the eHarmony process and opens up conversation by allowing your matches to see your personality."

What is with these people? This time, I was pretty irritated. Post more pictures? Are they kidding me? Good grief, it took forever to come up with one picture. And what was with the same suggestions coming from both customer service reps? Gee, there seemed to be a pattern...

I’m not a trained professional, but I'm starting to think this obsession with my picture is a form of emotional abuse. Blame the unphotogenic soul who can't get a dozen decent pictures. I ignored the advice, and yet I still continued to receive plenty of requests to communicate...of course mostly from the gun lobby I told you about in my second post on this topic.

As I told you in my last post, I did eventually communicate with one match, and when that match was closed, decided to take my profile down. That was when eHarmony started playing hardball. As you close your account, you are taken through a progression of screens, each asking you if you’re sure and giving you a list of reasons why you are making the BIGGEST MISTAKE OF YOUR LIFE!!! They tell you that it takes often takes people a year or more to find the right match. Of course it does. eHarmony couldn't stay in business if people found the right match in the first week.

But my favorite ploy to try to keep me hooked was this one:

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of that statement...only 1 in 4 American marriages is actually happy? Really? That doesn't exactly make marriage seem that appealing, does it?

And with that, I clicked one final time, and closed my account for good.

Don't get me wrong. I know that some people really do meet the "love of their life" online. Still others have met "good enough for now" online. But it's not for everyone. For me, a sense of humor is huge, and that's almost impossible to get across in an online profile because it can come off as either snarky or stupid. Spirituality is easier to fake online than in person, as is character. No, my brief experience with eHarmony did nothing to sell me on the idea of online dating.

Besides, if God does have a husband for me - and I have long since come to accept that may not be in God's plan for my life - God knows where to find me. He also knows how to speak to me in a way that will lead me to recognize His voice. That's way better than anything eHarmony can promise.

What’s more, God is never going to say, “Hey, Margaret, I noticed your picture’s not great.”

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” ~ Psalm 20:7

March 22, 2010

eHarmony, eSchmarmony: Pt. 3

Over the last couple of posts, I’ve been telling you about my brief, and yet painfully too long, association with eHarmony.

Occasionally someone would send a request to communicate. eHarmony has a number of levels of communication. Once a match decides they’re interested, they can send icebreaker questions. This is where the eHarmony experience begins to break down. You have to pay in order to see the questions, but you don’t know if your match is a paying member or not. So the guys who sent the request didn’t know that I was just browsing, so to speak. (I prefer to think of it as blog research. That's right, I'm sticking to that story.)

It was amazing how quickly some lost patience. One guy closed the match because I didn’t respond to his communication request within the first 48 hours. Not only was I not a paying member, I often went a week or two without checking the email account that was linked to eHarmony. I thought his impatience was a little extreme. I feel sorry for any woman who jumped on that match.

I did eventually reach the communication stage with one guy. He patiently waited 2 weeks after sending the first request to communicate before sending a “nudge”. (Apparently that other guy who was annoyed after only 2 days wasn't aware of the whole nudge thing.) I looked at the patient guy's profile and didn't see any of sign of the firearm fetish that seemed to plague the vast majority of my matches. eHarmony was running a special at the time, so I decided it wouldn’t kill me to go for the 3-month trial. So it was only after I became a paying member who could enter the guided communication phase that I learned that the "patient" guy's wife had left him about 30 seconds before he decided to join eHarmony. YIKES! (BTW, I think someone owes me $60 for the 3 months for which I had to sign up in order to get that piece of information.)

This is another eHarmony flaw. The advertising invites people to join to find the “love of their life.” Very often, the people who are most likely to join are doing so because they have been hurt…very recently. And eHarmony doesn’t tell those who are signing up that a couple of months isn’t long enough to get over the end of a marriage that lasted for decades. Nor are there any red flags for their matches, which would have been nice.

Really, eHarmony should work out progressive warnings for people who are looking for relationships too soon, kind of like the Homeland Security Advisories. They could start with low-key warnings, and work their way up to Code Red. Something like this could work:



Oh my, I seem to have digressed. Back to that one guy I with whom I actually communicated. We sent brief messages back a few times, progressing from guided to open communication (but never exchanging email addresses). It was in the open communication phase that I learned how recently his wife had left.

Then he stopped communicating, and after a few weeks, he closed the match with a canned message, “There’s too much going on in my life right now.”

No kidding.

That was when I decided to take my profile down. What happens when you try to close your account? That's in my next post...

March 20, 2010

Blogosphere Award Day #2

We interrupt the eHarmony, eSchmarmony series in order to post more awards for some of my favorites from the Blogosphere. Check them out and leave comments - I hope you find some new friends!

Again I start out with friends I know from "real" life - the first two. The last two I've met through blogging.

Hahn Hugs and Love - Jane, the most-liked girl in my high school class started this blog following the sudden loss of one of her sons last fall. Jane talks about her faith, and how it has gotten her family through their tragic loss. She also writes from her heart about how the loss feels, giving all of us a better idea of what to say and do when the unthinkable happens.

A Nerd and a Free Spirit - Follow Kathryn and Mark through the first year of marriage. Kathryn turns every day into an event, fully recognizing what a wonderful season of life she and Mark are sharing. (She also hosts fun giveaways!)

Single Christian Woman 30+ and Waiting - not only my first international follower (from Canada), but one of the first followers who didn't already know me. She writes beautifully about waiting for God's perfect timing in her life. I don't know how she stumbled onto my blog, but I'm glad she did.

Not Quite Susie - The full title is Not Quite Susie Homemaker, this blog is full of variety. And I won a giveaway from Susie! I love this blog. =)

I hope you find some new friends!


March 18, 2010

eHarmony, eSchmarmony: Pt. 2

eHarmony is supposed to be better than a blind date because they match you on a scientific basis. "Supposed to be" is the operative phrase here. I'm not convinced that's the case.

Here’s how it works. After you answer your profile questions, you select things that matter to you, such as distance, age, education, etc. and then you determine how much each one matters. For instance, you might want to limit your search to within 50 miles of your home, but you can decide if that matters a lot or just a little. If you say it matters a lot, then they will only deliver matches within that 50-mile range. If you say it matters a little, then eHarmony might give you a match who lives 200 miles away.

As far as matching to your profile questions, eHarmony also provides different levels of matching. Some matches are highly compatible, others are flexible. Apparently flexible is the online equivalent of a friend fixing you up with someone because you’re the only two single people they know. If my experience is any indication, the highly compatible matches are generally only a notch or two above that.

If you’re a paying member, then when matches are delivered, you see their picture(s), and you can communicate with them. You’ll also see what non-paying members see, answers to a few of the profile questions completed by your match, including things like leisure activities, the things you can’t live without, and something about the most influential person in your life.

One of the first matches rejected me because he “didn’t feel the chemistry.” I don't know if he was a paying member who saw my picture, or if he might have based that entirely on the smattering of information that shows up regardless of whether you pay or not. Since he was 48 it was June, and I figured he was desperately searching for someone he deemed hot enough to show up with for his high school reunion so it didn't bother me...too much. By the way, "Good luck with that, fella."

I was just as shallow. I rejected others just because I didn’t want them cluttering up my inbox. You have to close enough matches in order for eHarmony to provide new ones, although there are those who say that because women greatly outnumber men on the site, men continually receive new matches while women can go weeks without receiving any at all.

Now to digress just a second, in my last post, I told you I went to high school with a girl who married a guy she met on eHarmony. They are reportedly very happy. I also went to high school with a girl whose younger sister tried eHarmony. I understand that she met a few guys on the site…all of whom she characterized as craaaaaaaazy.

Back to my own eHarmony matches. I live in what is known as a red state, some go so far as to call it the reddest of the red states. I prefer to think it's the conservative nature of so many men in this part of the country and not something in my personality profile, but the vast majority of my matches tended to have a preoccupation with guns. One of them even listed FIREARMS (if it wasn’t in all caps, it might as well have been) at the very top of the list of things that he can’t live without. Now this isn’t a Second Amendment issue here. It’s a dating profile, people. I have to be a little concerned by this obsession about guns from guys on an online dating site – one I might add where my friend’s little sister met nothing but men who were craaaaaaaazy. If there's a chance you might not be as (reasonably) sane as I am, I would prefer that you not come with a weapons cache. I closed all of those firearm-related matches without batting an eye.

There were other activities that mystified me. They say that past college, men rarely form close friendships with other men. That would appear to be true. There must be a huge unmet need for bromance matching, because many of the men appeared to be looking for someone to fill the role of guyfriend more than girlfriend. They want someone with whom they can go hunting, fishing, and hiking. I realize there are women who like those things, but I’m not one of them. Absolutely nothing in the painfully long questionnaire would indicate that I’m that kind of woman. For Pete’s sake, how put off would men be if I said I was looking for some guy to go with me to a tea room or to the nail salon?

Then there were the guys who described what they were looking for in a woman solely by her appearance. I’d like to thank each of those men for making it so easy for me to close their matches.

On the plus side, there were a number of men looking for match in their own age range. I found that very encouraging because too often we think that most men are looking for much younger women. eHarmony convinced me that is not (at least not necessarily) the case.

On the negative side, the vast majority of the matches I received left me humming the theme from Deliverance. Eeeeewwwwww.

Excuse me, but I need to go take a shower now. There will be more on my eHarmony experience next week.

March 15, 2010

eHarmony, eSchmarmony: Pt. 1

Despite the fact that I am the Scrooge of online dating sites, I gave eHarmony a month more than NBC gave Conan. Unlike Conan, I didn’t come out of the deal with a multi-million dollar settlement. I did, however, come out of it with a handful of posts for my blog, so all was not lost.

For years, well-meaning friends and family have asked me the question no one should ever ask a single, “Why don’t you try eHarmony?”

Believe me, single people are aware that eHarmony exists, although if I hadn’t gone to high school with a girl who really did marry a guy she met on eHarmony, I’d be convinced that all the hype is just an urban myth. I still think it’s mostly a myth.

I actually attended a conference led by Neil Clark Warren shortly before he launched the eHarmony site. I have an autographed book to prove it. I even read the book. And shortly after eHarmony began, I considered trying it. I never made it to the personality profile though, because I couldn’t get past the user name.

So shortly after I began this blog and wrote about my user name conundrum, I decided to go back and give eHarmony a try for a couple of reasons. The first was purely blog research, as I thought I might get a post or two out of it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) Second, I had given enough dirty looks to the people who asked me if I had ever tried eHarmony to feel compelled to prove I could be open-minded enough to take a stab at it. (Althought now that I've taken the stab, my new answer will be, "Stick a fork in me, I'm done.")

As I told you in one of my first posts at Single and Sane, the user name had apparently long since been eliminated so I was able to progress directly to the personality profile questions. The very extensive profile questions, at that. Once I had finished the profile section, I wished I had timed it. Some say it takes about 20 minutes, while others say it takes a couple of hours to complete. I can tell you it’s definitely longer than 20 minutes.

There’s some controversy about the personality profile, because evidently you can flunk it. I had always assumed that it was like a lot of personality profiles, and that it would throw out the results if you gave contradictory answers to the essentially the same questions with different wording. However many who have been rejected after taking the inordinate amount of time required to complete it, think it’s a religious issue. They contend that if you choose anything other than Christianity as your religion, eHarmony will reject you.*

Either way, I kind of think those who are rejected by eHarmony get the better deal. I’ll tell you more in my next couple of posts.

*Note added April 1, 2010:  There is an unofficial eHarmony blog with some answers to the rejection question - no mention of religion. Check it out here.

March 12, 2010

Journey through the Blogosphere - Award Day #1

Earlier this week, I went on a rant about the failure of the Motion Picture Academy to recognize the Lifetime Achievement Honorees during the Oscar telecast. I don't have an actual award to present, but for your reading pleasure, here are some blogs I love to read and that I consider to be award-worthy.

The first two are written by friends from my real life - the others are new friends who I only know through blogging.

Synergy Blog - written by a friend who is also the Director of Single Adults at my church. I love Terry's perspective. He never fails to speak directly to me. When I started my blog and didn't keep it up on a regular basis, Terry was the one who pushed me to keep writing. Synergy is the name of our single adult ministry, and Terry often writes in relation to the lessons he teaches, but his thoughts are too good not to share with everyone.

My Letters to Emily  - written by another friend, Lea, who started her blog to encourage young moms, but most of her posts apply to any one of us at any stage of life. Although we went to the same junior high and high school, it has been through following one another's blogs that we have gotten to know each other better. She has been one of my biggest fans from the start of this blog, and is gracious enough to give me credit for inspiring her to start her own.

Carol's Corner - thoughts on life, love, and everything in between, Carol's blog is filled with variety. Carol is kind enough to stop by Single and Sane on a regular basis to leave a kind word or two. She's currently looking for other bloggers to read Pride and Prejudice with her and discuss it on a weekly basis, so if you're interested, now's the time to check out her blog.

Coffee, God and Me - a blog from my neck of the woods (Oklahoma) that inspires and challenges me. She's a young mom with an old soul. Freddae' (who wouldn't love a blog written by someone named Freddae'?) has been celebrating Women's History Month this week with thought-provoking posts about women pilots who flew during World War II and the importance of women making the most of our right to vote, a right for which women before us worked so hard to receive.

Honduras Gumbo - Laurie writes about her life working with poorer communities in Honduras. She writes beautifully about her struggles to meet the needs of the people she serves, and over the next few weeks, she plans write about spiritual and emotional burnout, especially among expats and missionaries. I haven't been following her blog for very long, but I've quickly grown to admire Laurie tremendously.

So there you have it, these are some of the bloggers I'd like to be when I grow up. There are more, but we'll stop here for now. I hope you find a new blog to love! =)


Check back on March 20th for another batch of favorites!

March 10, 2010

Witness Muggings

I had every intention of ignoring this topic, as I do not have what is known as the spiritual gift of evangelism. I have to confess that it's a gift I'm not sure I want to possess because so many who claim to have it seem to do it, um, badly.

Southern Baptists are not supposed to say that. We start learning how to tell people about Jesus when we can barely talk. Even as a preschooler, I didn't mind the social part of Sunbeams (as it was called then) and later, GA's, but I never did like the part about witnessing - talking to people about my faith.

As I entered my teens, I began my extended sabbatical from organized religion. I never lost my faith, and I wasn't living on the wild side - I just didn't want to go to church. It wasn't that I had turned against Christ - just his followers.

During those years I spent away from church, I developed disdain for people who felt compelled to walk up to strangers to ask if they had been saved. Especially when I was the one they were asking.

"Yes, thank you," didn't seem to satisfy them. They always pried further, "When was that?"

"When I was 7, thank you."

"And where do you go to church?"

"I'm a member of Blankety Baptist, thanks so much for your interest."

Most of the time, that provided the acceptable credentials to end the conversation. I remember one couple who picked up on the "I'm a member" part and continued the inquisition. "But do you go?" they asked. At that point, I was done with the conversation. I don't remember how I got away from them, but I do remember that they looked at me as though they had hit the jackpot and found a sinner in need of redemption. (Excuse me, but aren't we all still sinners in continual need of redemption, even after we have accepted Christ?)

I'm sure this would be a shock to my well-meaning witnessing couple, but for me, that time away from church actually drew me closer to Christ.

It also taught me that "witness muggings" such as those I had experienced, generally do not work because those doing the mugging just make the "muggee" feel, well, attacked. I know there are people who have conversations with strangers in line at the grocery story and lead them to Christ right then and there, but when it works, it's because God is already working in that person's life and the Holy Spirit is leading the witnessing.

That's different than Christians who think witnessing is something to check off a list, like flossing your teeth. Most of the time, witnessing requires an actual relationship with the person with whom you are sharing Christ, and just as important, a sensitivity to God's leading.

Which leads me to a story about my former hairdresser, who I'll call Jill, who has since moved to another city. I went to Jill for more years than I can remember. In the beginning, she was the best hairdresser I had ever gone to, but as time went by, she began to get burned out. She would forget that I don't like a lot of layers in my way too fine hair, because the bottom layers just wind up looking limp. It wasn't unusual for my hair to look great for only a week or two after a cut, and then drag until the next appointment. Despite my frustration, I never considered changing hairdressers. I used to joke that I didn't need to go on mission trips because I put $40 and my hair on the line every time I went to see Jill.

You see, Jill was not a Christian, but as this is the Bible belt, a good number of her clients were. Jill had several clients who understood the relationship part of witnessing, but didn't get the part about being sensitive to God's leading.

For years, Jill and I never discussed religion. She would ask what I was doing for the weekend, and as my activities were usually centered around church, she was well aware of my faith. We talked about a lot of other things - gardening, decorating, family, pets, relationships - the things that help you get to know someone better.

Over time, Jill began to broach the topic of religion. She mentioned that she found Buddhism appealing. I asked her what she found appealing about it. I don't recall her answer exactly, but it was something to the effect that she didn't find Buddhism to be judgmental. I accepted her answer without considering it an opportunity for debate, but I did offer that Christianity is not supposed to be judgmental and what a shame it is that, too often, we who are followers of Christ fail to demonstrate that.

A year or more passed, and one day as she was trimming my hair, Jill said, "Can I ask you a question about religion?" I quickly began to pray.

"Sure," I replied.

"Why are Christians so mean?"

Gulp. I began to pray harder. "What do you mean?"

She began to tell me about various people, from clients to her accountant, who had tried to convert her to Christianity. Without fail, each had made Jill feel defensive as they began to argue their case. And without fail, their attempts to lead her to Christ had ended in broken relationships. The accountant told her she needed to find someone else to do her taxes. The clients broke appointments and never returned calls.

"They shouldn't have done that," I told her. "That's not what we're called to do as followers of Christ. It's true that we're called to tell people about Jesus, but we shouldn't attack." I tried to assure her that they meant the best, and that they did what they believed they were supposed to do but they had done it badly. I told her that I felt sure they were embarrassed by how they had handled it.

She seemed to feel somewhat better, and after that, she was more comfortable asking me about my faith from time to time. I always let Jill lead because I knew she had to be open to the conversations, and she had to know that I wouldn't bring it up when she wasn't ready. I didn't want her to ever dread my appointments.

As time went by, she had another client whose husband was the president of a local seminary. Jill house-sat for them once and discovered books in their library that helped answer many of her questions about Christianity. Not only that, those books filled her with excitement about learning more. I remember the day that I sat in her chair and Jill announced, "Jesus isn't what I always thought he was. Jesus is cool."

When Jill moved away, she still had questions, but she was far more open to Christianity than she had been when she asked me why Christians are so mean. In the intervening years, God had placed a number of us in her life to show her that Christians are called to love others.

Another part of being  in a Southern Baptist church can mean feeling guilty about not going on mission trips. I don't feel guilty about that at all, because I realize that God needs some of us to just be open to what he's doing right where we live. That would be the Jerusalem part of Christ's Great Commission.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." ~ Acts 1:9

March 9, 2010

A Blogging Community

I am the winner in a blog giveaway! {Not Quite} Susie drew my name for a L'Oreal Lash Boosting Serum giveaway! (I'm pretty sure that's the one that doesn't turn your eyes brown.)

{Not Quite} Susie's blog is great - both funny and full of tips. I found her through The Lady Bloggers Society, a new group where bloggers can meet and learn from one another. I joined The Lady Bloggers because of the variety of blogs their members write - life blogs, spiritual blogs, mommy blogs, work blogs, you name it.

The Lady Bloggers are hosting their very first giveaway. Click here to check it out!

Good luck!

March 8, 2010

When Did We Start Dissing Lifetime Achievement Awards?

One year, I gave up criticism for Lent. I made it all the way until the Academy Awards and lost it.

This year, I made no such vow, so I don't have to bite my tongue in light of the failure to recognize the Lifetime Achievement Awards during the televised Oscar ceremony. Lauren Bacall was among those receiving token mentions last night. Bacall has previously been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the top 25 actresses of the last 100 years. She is one of only 4 actresses the AFI recognizes as living legends. (The others are Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, and Sophia Loren.) But apparently the Academy doesn't consider that enough to make her prime-time-worthy.

Those receiving Oscars during the prime time show included some rather dreary topics. Sound? Really? That's worthy of prime time? Don't get me started on documentaries and short subjects. Do they think we care???

Meanwhile, Lauren Bacall sat on the front row until her moment which point she was allowed to stand and wave to the crowd.

Turns out that Bacall received her award at an event in November, along with the other recipients of Governor's Awards: John Calley, who received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, producer-director Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis, who like Bacall, received Honorary awards. The only advantage to the November award ceremony was that recipients were not limited to 45-second acceptance speeches.

Click here to see Bacall accept her award. She has some great lines in it. Too bad more people didn't get to see it. :-(

Shame on the Academy.

March 7, 2010

Mosaic Reminder of God's Faithfulness

In my last post, I told you I used to work for an interior designer. Even before everyone else was doing it, he worked primarily with taupes, creams, browns, and sage, although he was not opposed to pops of color as pillows or other accents. He maintained that walls should fade into the background, never "screaming" for attention.

I use way more than "pops" of color and my walls do, indeed, scream for attention. I often describe my house as a Crayola box, filled with color. I love that. I consider it one of the greatest benefits of singleness, along with being able to turn the TV on when I wake up at 3:00 in the morning, or squirting whipped cream directly into my mouth before putting the can back into the refrigerator. (Don't worry - I would never serve whipped cream from that can to my guests!)

I've always thought that my house was filled with happy colors, or maybe tropical colors. But this winter, as I reflected on that other winter filled with glorious sunsets, I realized that my house is filled with sunset colors. See for yourself...


Without realizing it, I have gravitated to colors that vividly remind me of God's faithfulness. What do ya know?

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

March 5, 2010

Be Strong and Courageous

Although the last few posts have been about God speaking to me, I have to admit, it sometimes scares the heck out of me when it happens. Why is God, the Creator of the universe, even noticing me? Really, I try to maintain a reasonably low profile, hoping to blend into the woodwork as much as possible, so when the Great I Am singles me out to send a message, it often makes me a little nervous. This is about one of those times.

I used to work for an interior designer. One day I was going through wallpaper books marking samples for a client. As I turned the pages, a song kept running through my mind. It was a song I had taught kids in Preschool Worship several months before, but we had only sung it a couple of times.

Be bold and be strong
Banish fear and doubt
For the promise of your God
Is to bless your coming in
And to bless your going out

I continued to go through wallpaper books, using a stack of bookmarks to mark the pages, and starting to sing out loud along with the song that was playing in my head. Finally, I had marked all the appropriate samples I could find. I looked down at the one remaining bookmark on the table. It had a scripture on it:

Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

I had an uneasy sense of foreboding. Was God trying to tell me something? I knew I should find comfort in the words from the song and the bookmark, yet I had the dreadful feeling something bad was about to happen and God was preparing me.

A couple of days passed, and nothing happened. I convinced myself that it was nothing.

Then on the third day, my boss came into work. It was his birthday, and after I wished him a happy birthday, he told me he had something he needed to tell me. He had decided it was time to retire. He was giving me just over two months notice, which meant my last day on that job would be on my own birthday.

My mind immediately went to the song and the bookmark. This time they comforted me, because I knew that God had, indeed, been preparing me, and He wanted me to know things would be alright. I had no idea what I was going to do for a job. Although working for an interior designer had been in many ways a dream come true, it also taught me that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in design. Over the next two months, I only had one meltdown as I wondered what the future held. After sending out numerous resumes and going on a few interviews, I was offered a job just a couple of weeks before my boss's retirement. It's the job that I have now, a job that I love.

As a reminder of God's promise to be there for me, I framed the bookmark and put it next to my front door to remind me that He is with me wherever I go.

It still brings me encouragement me every single day. =)

March 2, 2010

Comfort from God

I live in a part of the country where we expect it to be cold in the winter. But we also expect a few warm days sprinkled in from December to March, just to remind us that winter is not going to last forever. I'm not talking about temperatures in the 40s or 50s -- I mean the 60s and 70s. It doesn't seem like we've had any of those days this winter.

It's not just that it's cold, we haven't seen much of the sun, either. My sunglasses have spent most of the last 3 months sitting on my car's console, thanks to largely overcast skies. It's enough to drive this reasonably sane woman directly to the loony bin.

However, I'm finding solace in memories of another winter. It was a winter when my spirit was overcast, but the sun continued to shine brightly virtually every day. As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, I began to find comfort in the heavens as each evening, I drove home with a full view of the most incredible sunsets.

It was like a surprise from God waiting for me at the end of each day, just to show me that each day could get better. I began to look forward to that drive, wondering how it was possible for each sunset to be even more beautiful than the one from the day before. Some days they were fiery orange, others were filled with pinks, lavenders, and blues. They were all glorious.

They say beautiful sunsets are caused by the angle of the sun and the scattering of light that causes the brilliant colors. I know better. They're notes from God filled with love.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~ I John 3:1