Friday, February 26, 2010

My Current Creed

"Here I stand.  I can do no other.  So help me God."
~Martin Luther


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I had glasses for a long time. I was about ten when I got them and twenty-two when I got contacts for the first time.

Now, some people love glasses. Some people look good in glasses. I am neither of those people. That whole time, all twelve years, I hated my glasses. I wished I could get rid of them. They took up too much of my already small face, they made people judge me before they knew me. In middle school, when I had braces and frizzy hair, I really and truly loathed them.

So when my sister got contacts this year and my parents discovered that our insurance actually gives better coverage for contacts than for glasses, I leapt at the chance to get rid of them forever (hopefully).

At first my face looked strange and bare. I'd try to push up glasses that weren't there. But gradually, as I got used to wearing contacts I realized that I'd been hidden behind my glasses for all of those years. I'd brush my teeth in the morning and look in the mirror. Then I'd cover up the person I saw there with my glasses.

Maybe no one else ever saw me as hidden or thought that the non-glasses me might be different than the with-glasses me. But I did. I lived my life all those years feeling hidden and unseen. It's a strange idea, but since I've gotten contacts I feel fuller. I feel as if people can really see me for who I am, for the first time in years.

So, think about it. If such a little thing can make such a big difference, what's hiding you?


Friday, February 19, 2010

“My life is like a weaving, between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He Sees the upper, and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver’s hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.”
  (by Grant Colfax Tullar)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Loving and giving

I love stories of redemption. There are lots of them in the Bible, of course, but I love any of them. Les Miserables? Check. A Tale of Two Cities? Only the greatest Dickens ever.

And you might not think so, but there are plenty of modern books that I find attractive for the same reason. I've talked about the Attolia books at my personal blog quite a bit. One of the reasons I love the second book, The Queen of Attolia, so much is that I see it as a story of redemption. The Winter Prince, by Elizabeth Wein, is also an amazing story of betrayal and love and forgiveness (and it's based on the Arthurian legends!).

The obvious reason for me to love this type of story is that I need redemption and forgiveness. Stories where characters do awful things and are forgiven can show God's love reflected in a human way. They give me hope that my mistakes too can be erased, that I am not given up on.

But I think there's another reason I love them. Just as much as I need to be forgiven, I need to forgive. Can I be the Bishop from Les Miserables? Can I be Gen or Lleu? If someone comes to me and asks me for forgiveness and love, can I do that?

Forgiveness has been on my mind recently, as Great Lent has begun for us Orthodox Christians with a service called Forgiveness Vespers. We ask every member of our parish for forgiveness and then we have to grant it to them as well. Without the washing clean of this time, the joy of the Resurrection cannot come.

So I'd like to challenge us all to try to both ask for and grant forgiveness, to be humble and honest and loving.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Self- Confidence. (Or, The Lack Thereof)

I've struggled with low self-confidence my entire life.  I'm a natural introvert.  As a child I was never more than an arms reach away from my mom and often so close behind her that if she stopped suddenly I would run into her.  If someone spoke to me I answered in monosyllables and hid my face.  When I was eleven we joined a Bible club at a local church.  I cried and my mom had to stay with me the whole first night.  Even at age 18 I made multiple excuses not to make phone calls.  I was terrified to use the phone.  I stayed home when I was invited to parties with excuses of "headaches.  Actually, the truth wasn't far off.  I got instant headaches at the thought of socialization.  There were times that I cried for hours before going to a social gathering merely because I didn't want anyone to look at me.  If they looked at me I knew they would know what a failure I was.     

When I went to work at the flower shop I had to do major overcoming.  I had to drive to people's houses and knock on their doors!  Let me tell you, though, when you walk into an office building carrying a bouquet of flowers EVERYONE looks at you.  But, surprisingly they aren't thinking "Who is that strange girl and what is her problem?"  They're thinking "OOOO.... I wonder who's getting flowers?"  My boss required me to make some difficult phone calls for her and once I even had to run after a customer who "forgot" to pay.  Some of the things I had to do would have been a cake walk to other people.  They were mountains for me.  But, the thing about mountains is that once you've conquered them they become monuments, things we can look back on as battles fought and won.  Every victory is a step higher.   

Only a few weeks ago I was talking with a co-worker.  It was a rather deep discussion and at one point I referred to myself as "Shy.” 
She looked at me in disbelief.  "You are NOT shy!"
I stared at her blankly.  "Well, I am…" 
She shook her head. "Well, I've never thought of you as shy. I mean, you're quiet and you're certainly not a big talker, but you're friendly and you certainly don't ACT shy!" 
I was still perplexed.  I'd worked with this woman for almost 7 years.  Could she really not know?  "I am shy... I always have been..."  
She continued to stare at me "Well.  You certainly cover it well!"

And that's when I realized the truth.  I'm really not nearly as shy as I used to be and my self-confidence is really SO much better.  I still don't like crowds of people.  I'm still a horrible conversationalist.  I'm good at listening, but really not good at talking myself.  I'd still much rather be alone with my own thoughts than at a party and I still don't like anyone to look at me.  I'll always be that way.  But, I've learned to cover it well.  I've learned to "fake it."  And it's made a huge difference in my life.  I'm not an expert.  I still struggle with self-confidence.  I still cry at night when I'm feeling 2 inches tall.  I still don't have a lot of social skills that most people don't ever have to learn because they just come naturally.

But, there are a few things I've learned that help me get through a day at least faking self-confidence.  :) 

  • Don't beat yourself up, especially for the sake of humor.  While it may cause people to chuckle at the time it's really not worth it in the long run.  And it sends a message like a flashing neon sign "REBECCA IS OK TO PICK ON."  A fellow IDDiot and I were talking the other day about making disparaging remarks about ourselves in order to lighten the mood and make a conversation.  Here's what I said   "[We] need to develop [our] self confidence and present [our] self-confidence... I don't really know how to describe this. This is something that I have FINALLY started learning how to do. There are still times when I cower and feel like everyone around me is SO much more accomplished, intelligent, etc... and there were/still are plenty of times when I made a conversation out of my inadequacy. Why did I do that to myself? Desperate for something to say, I guess and having nothing to say, without sounding stupid I just kind of announced my stupidity... ??"  Girls, please, please don't do this to yourselves.  You are worthy of being praised. 
  • Learn your strengths and depend on them.  It's never okay to ignore our weaknesses but it's certainly not necessary to hide our strengths.  Work on your weaknesses.  Meanwhile, put your best foot forward. If you find yourself in a conversation that's out of your depth, don't be discouraged or draw attention to your inability.  Instead, learn what you can from it and speak up when you can it's a subject familiar to you.  Don't let your weaknesses overshadow your strengths!  Make it the other way around!
  • Smile.  Even if you're quaking inside, even if you'd rather be anywhere rather than where you are.  A smile is the universal sign of friendship.  If you don't say a word your smile will still make an impact. 
  • The secret to dealing with a lack of self-confidence is Don't Let Anyone Else Know!  Acting can be your best friend.  In the movie Wives and Daughters, Cynthia says, "The French girls would tell you that to believe that you are pretty would make you so."  There's a lot of truth in that statement.  A woman who thinks of herself as beautiful will act beautiful.  She will take extra care with her clothes, hair and makeup.  She will cultivate her beauty.  Similarly, acting confident (even when you are not) will give you a confidence.  Or, at the very least, it will give everyone else the idea that you are!  
  • Remember that God is confident in you, His creation, even if you are not.

  • I'll let you in on another secret.  You're most likely the ONLY person that knows that you're self-conscious and awkward feeling.  I often think that EVERYONE must be able to see how awkward I am, but the truth is people don't really notice as much as you think they do.  If you start focusing on others all the time and stop focusing on your own failings you'll find yourself much more relaxed in social situations.
  • As Oscar Wilde said "Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken."

Take it one step at a time. Don’t expect to change from shy to outgoing overnight. It takes time and practice. It’s worth it in the long run, though.


Friday, February 12, 2010

2 Thoughts

There have been 2 thoughts bouncing around in my head, well more than two, but these are the only two that count right this minute.....

To leave a legacy, you have to live a legacy.


It well may be 
That we will never meet again 
In this lifetime 
So let me say before we part 
So much of me 
Is made of what I learned from you 
You'll be with me 
Like a hand-print on my heart 
And now whatever way our stories end 
I know you have re-written mine 
By being my friend... "

How many people's lives do you touch every day?   How many people do I impact for the good? Impact for God? How many people have my handprint on their heart? Their life?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Proverbs 31:13

      She seeketh wool, and flax,
and worketh willingly 
with her hands
 -Proverbs 31:13

The main part of this verse that caught my eye was "She worketh WILLINGLY with her hands."  Probably every one of us is familiar with that ancient saying "A man will work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done."  I have my doubts whether or not this saying is really true of the sexes in general.  I've met men who never stop and woman who like to take plenty of breaks.  :) 

Regardless, every single woman in this world, married or single, mother, sister or grandmother has more than enough projects, jobs, etc. (feel free to fill in the blank here with whatever it is that keeps YOU busy) to distract her every minute of every day.  How many of us have moaned for the luxury of 36 hours in a day instead of 24?  In fact, I'm pretty sure we were having a conversation along these exact lines on the IDD forum just the other day.  :)  I'm convinced however that whether we were given 36 hours a day or even 48 every single one of us would remain just as busy and behind on our "to-do" lists as we are now. 

Here's why:  From the minute I wake up in the morning, and often even before I've woken up in the morning, I am planning my day.  I wake up with a list in my head entitled Things To Get Done Today.  I get out of bed and before I've even washed my face the list has grown.  It goes like this:  On my walk to the bathroom I add Sweep Kitchen Floor and Make Coffee.  As I'm putting on my makeup and brushing my teeth I mentally add Buy a New Toothbrush, Look at Garden Plan, Save Money, Wash Towels and Talk to Mom about This Weekend. All of this is before I've even poured my coffee or eaten breakfast.  As soon as I open the refrigerator to get out the milk I start adding things to the Grocery section of my list and planning dinner.  I check my e-mail during breakfast (Three cheers for multi-tasking!!) and start adding more things to the list Pay Insurance, Write a Blog Post, Check on Library Books Due Dates, Water Plants.  If I'm feeling super organized I might even pull out my phone and start putting my list into a drafted text message that I keep for this exact purpose.  But, honestly, the thoughts come faster than I can put them into my phone and realistically I can't walk around with my phone in my hand all day long adding things to my list.  I walk to my car and the list grows.  Get Gas, Take Out Garbage, Practice Piano.  I arrive at work and my "Home" list retires to a "Look at Later" file and my "Work" list comes out.  Re-cut Flowers, Clean Roses, Order Plants, FIND MORE PENS, Clean vases, Call Other Shop....  During the day I think of people and add their names to my "Call and See How They're Doing List."  But, who has time for an hour long conversation with each of those 25 people?  I'll be perfectly honest.  By the time I've arrived home at the end of the day I've forgetten 80% of the things on the list, and of the remaining 20% maybe 5% of THOSE actually get done.  I fall into bed and try to sleep as the image of my "Things to Get Done Today" list haunts me with it's lack of check marks.  Imagine how it would be if we had 48 hours to spend thinking of things to do?  I, for one, would definitely be just as behind on my projected goals as I am now.  Maybe more so.

This is the life of a young, single woman with no husband to think of and no children to care for, and supposedly plenty of energy.  I'm not trying to give you the impression that I work uber-hard and deserve a vacation in Hawaii.  (Although that would be nice...)  As a matter of fact, I'm really trying to show you how discouraging it is to NOT get things done.  I, of course, take the lions share of the blame for things not getting done.  I could be more efficient.  I could prioritize better.  I could be less selfish and choose to spend my time doing the things that I know need to be done but I don't really want to do.  I could probably sacrifice an hour of sleep. 

Above all, I could have a better attitude.  That's all I'm really trying to say here.  The Virtuous Woman WORKS.  It's true.  But, more importantly, she works WILLINGLY.  You've heard the saying "Attitude is everything"?  It's absolutely true.  I would be willing to bet that I could sweep the floor faster and more efficiently if I have a good attitude versus sweeping the floor with a bad attitude.  If I go through my day with a willing heart I'll probably remember more of the things on my list.  I'll probably get more of them done and I'll definitely be a better example, a better employee, better sister and all around a better person to know.  On the flip side, if I scowl and complain about everything I do, I'll probably talk myself out of doing things, be less productive and no one will want to be around me. 

A woman's work is never done.  And, according to Proverbs 31, the Virtous Woman is WILLING to shoulder that burden.  Something every single one of us can work on every single done.  Because as long as there's work to be done, there can and should be a willing attitude to go along with it. 


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