Hellish or Heavenly?

January 12, 2010

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. -C.S. Lewis

A friend of mine shared this quote with me a short time ago.  I had to ponder it a bit.  In some respects, I find it extraordinarily true.  In other respects, a little too black and white, a little too simplistic.  But mostly true.

I don’t necessarily know about the heavenly vs hellish dichotomy, but I absolutely, 100%’ly believe that our choices help form us, closing off some pathways that might have been present before.  Opportunity cost, I think I recall learning in high school accounting or freshman college economics.  The notion that there is a cost to choosing one thing over another, and that some choices close off other possibilities, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.  Of course circumstances beyond our control can have these effects, too, but the important thing to take away from the pondering of this quote, I think, is that we have some degree of self-determination in forming that central thing inside us, for better or worse.  We have that responsibility and that power.

How am I choosing this day?

These Days?

Heavenly, hellish, or some delightful intoxicating combo of saved and sinner?  Hmm.

I’ve curtailed my church involvement quite a bit from say, the past 2-3 years ago.  Part of it was God-led for a sabbath season of sorts from that particular type of ministry involvement.  (Heavenly, you might say, and saying so with purity of heart, not a twinge of irony or sarcasm.  Really, prayed over that decision, and it felt “right.”)  Part of it was self-protective, and not just the innocent and beneficial stewardship of one’s time and energy.  Nope, the unvarnished truth was some of it was defensive and walling myself away from hurt, whether actual or imagined…the heart doesn’t necessarily care sometimes about factuality and objective reality.   (Hellish  <sigh>)  One ought to try though, I think, to be open to love and possibility and keep our walls to a minimum to live life to its fullest.  Hmm.

I don’t feel the same naivete and optimism I once felt about the Church, and even life in general the way I used to.  That’s disappointing to me, because I’ve always felt myself to be an optimist.  I’m not sure I like that change to my central thing…it feels like a shift is happening.  I think I should watch my choices a little more closely and with a sense of detached wonder and interest so I don’t find myself getting sucked into automatic reflexive decisions, instead of thoughtful choices.

How am I spending my opportunity costs now?  I’m “wasting time” (in a certain sense!) and “playing” in an adult sense that works for me.  Hellish or heavenly?  Time will tell, but I happen to think more the latter than the former.

I’m playing video games.   Yeah, video games!

I recently accepted an invitation from my elementary aged daughter to be part of a three-generation girl sleepover.  Yup, my daughter, myself, and my mom all slept in the living room after making truffles, other snacks, and playing on the Wii.

I got Dance Dance Revolution to play and exercise. (it really is fun!!!)

I’m taking piano lessons.  Yeah, me!  I had a few when I was younger, so I’m not a complete beginner, and I was a pretty good trombonist in high school, but I LOVE the piano.  It’s the kind of thing I can lose track of time while I’m at it. (in a good and holy way.)  Oh, is this ever FUN!!!  I’ve missed music and the tugs it makes on my soul…  It feels good and right to be back at it.

This playfulness and wasting time is heavenly and hellish at differing times.  And it’s changing my inner self.  My central “thing.”

I believe God’s going to use it for good, who knows how.  Let’s see how the next leg of this ol’ journey goes?  ;)


Welcome home, Sonic!

April 25, 2009

So, yeah.  I blogged publicly that I wouldn’t get a beagle.

Um… <ahem>   Oops!


“Sonic” is the latest addition to our family.  He’s an 8-year-old, overweight, lazy, very lovable beagle.  And my daughter and I just love him.  The son is out with boy scouts today…will meet him tomorrow when we pick him up.  That should be a surprise!  Peace, all! – Karla

Dog Advice?

April 20, 2009

We had a great visit with my mother-in-law and her 3 generation of female descendants this weekend.  And another female tagged along for the ride:  an elderly rescue chiuhuaua. (sp?)  The visit was a lot of fun, but spurred fresh sadness in my almost-8-year-old daughter, missing our own doggie who died almost two years ago.

Hubby and I have been thinking it might be time to get another dog anyway.  This pushed that pondering process further to the front of my wonders.

Do you have strong opinions, advice about a family dog?  We did not do the greatest job of getting Betsy out for frequent walks.  She was a Springer Spaniel mix and probably would have liked them a great deal.  She was a VERY happy dog, being mistaken for a puppy until nearly her last few years.  I remember he tail wag would involve her entire back hip section, in joy to see me come home from work.  I was the “alpha dog” in the family, despite my husband’s more ongoing continuous presence, Betsy seemed to prefer me.  Oh, that expression/prayer, “God let me be half the man my dog believes me to be” – that was sure the truth with me and Betsy!!!

We got Betsy at a no-kill animal shelter as a puppy.  I want to adopt from a shelter again, but I’m not determined to get a puppy this time.  I’m more interested in taking my time to get the right breed (i.e. adult size is hard to predict in mixed breed puppies sometimes!)  Well, anyway, let me spell out some of our family preferences, and see if you can give me your two cents worth?

  • Want to adopt from a shelter.  I don’t care if adult or puppy.  Kids would prefer puppy.  Kids will not be part of selection process til some serious (practical-minded) narrowing down by me.  Probably will leave hubby out of process for same reason!
  • Would prefer low-shedding dog.
  • Would prefer dog with low exercise requirements, but big enough and energetic enough for games of fetch in our reasonably sized city back yard.  We didn’t do the greatest job of walking Betsy as regularly as she would have enjoyed, but boy did that dog love to play fetch, especially with a fleece frisbee or old ratty tennis ball!
  • Would be unhappy with a yappy dog.  NO BEAGLES!!!!!!!!  I don’t know what it is about our family attracting beagles for neighbors…  Let me say it again, no beagles.  Period.
  • We enjoy cuddling a lap dog, or barring that due to size, hugging and petting a medium sized dog.  Betsy was a medium sized dog, who still enjoyed getting up in our laps.  She shed a LOT though.  Lap dogs that shed little would be preferable – and my definition of a lap dog is pretty liberal…just needs to enjoy being cuddled, and (mostly!) fit in a lap.  A little overlap is okay…  <smile>
  • Daughter would prefer a “cute” dog, but since her participation in the selection process will be limited to the end of the process, my preferences above would override cuteness.  And low-maintenance grooming, please!  Poodles or those bichon frise?  Not so much, even though they’re otherwise quite cute.  Some kind of low-shedding short hair breed that will be a lover – that’s the family dog of my dreams!

Thanks for your input!

Belated Ash Wednesday Ponderings/Confessions

February 28, 2009

Hey there! I have Episcopal readers, and I have some evangelical readers I think. If you’ve been with me a while, you may be aware that I was raised Roman Catholic. We Catholics “do Lent.” Episcopalians also “do Lent” though not quite to the same legalistic degree as the Lenten observances I was encouraged to as a child. But I wouldn’t abandon a Lenten season, and I see more Protestants are observing Lenten piety than ever.

Just now I made a page with the entire pre-Eucharist Ash Wednesday liturgy, as it occurs in an Episcopal church. You can find it here on my blog (and on the top margin, too!), with links to my original source material there. And I found a phrase of the penitential rite that was fitting for me, and my spiritual pathway of the moment. It is simply this:

…We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those
more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

I appreciate the recognition and calling-out to our attention from our prayer book regarding this particular piccadillo as “sin” worthy of confessing, reflecting on, and repenting for. Okay, sure, envy of others is pretty obvious. One of those seven deadly ones, undoubtedly. But what of that first part: anger at our own frustration. How many “good” people work themselves into a lather over not being good enough, or competent enough, or perfect enough to be “worthy” to stand at their mere job or family position, let alone stand before the throne of (our merciful, forgiving, loving) God? (do I detect a little involuntary confessional head-nodding from my side of the computer keyboard???) And so often, these people (“people” equals me, too, of course; my bad!) believe this working of themselves into the lather to be evidence of their goodness and even a sort of repentant, sorrowful piety before an inflexible God. And yet, it’s just another twisted form of pride, isn’t it? Frustration that I am not perfect. <faux gasp!>

I missed Ash Wednesday services this year. I had a rough preceding week that made me part lazy, part exhausted, and part scatterbrained. Friday through Monday had me running from house to grandparents to hospital while my husband recuperated from an unexpected, slightly emergent heart procedure. (it is assumed to be a viral infection with greater than expected inflammation, and fluid accumulation…not likely to be an ongoing problem, but one that will require a few followup appointments with cardiology and hematology. Would welcome your prayers in that regard for a non-remarkable report after those appointments are complete!) Then Tuesday I had one of the worst days at work I’ve had in a long time. The new system contributed to my stress level. Some demanding patients, some legitimately so due to health status and/or disability, some unkindly so with no outwardly apparent explanation (but who knows what really goes on in their inner lives of course. <sigh>), added to my stress level. I was too busy to eat lunch, too busy to drink a sufficient quantity to even desire to use the restroom. Had to tidy up a few unfinished tasks after closing, and was late to a family function as a result. Just really didn’t feel like going to church on my much-needed day off on Wednesday.

Now I regret it though. I miss that “invitation, in the name of the Church, to an observance of a Holy Lent.” It’s just not the same in solitude as it is to be gathered in community as the body of Christ. But my missing it was the prompt for my reading over the liturgy here at home, sort of after the fact. It’s a good one. A rich and useful prayer, that is, this liturgy. No Ash Wednesday is complete without a prayerful meditation over Psalm 51 in my opinion. I recommend it and the rest of the Book of Common Prayer’s Ash Wednesday liturgy for your use or consideration.

But yeah, that whole frustration with self is a biggie for me at many times, and particularly right now with this new computer system at work. Must be patient with self. Must relax. Not easy.

Is there a part of these prayers that particularly speaks to you at your place in the faith journey/struggle as you’re experiencing it right now? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

I enjoy taking some time to wrestle prayerfully/thoughtfully with the spiritual and incarnational realities of our God during the season of Lent. Earthy, fleshy life and ministry with attendant joys and suffering. Spiritual, supernatural results and ripples of that ministry and resurrection life. Hmmm…. Much to pray over and ponder, no?

May you be blessed on your journey, whereever it leads you.

To the (very!) simple pleasures in life…

January 21, 2009

Karla gets book, “Getting Things Done” from the library.

Karla enjoys it. Picks up the (hindsightedly obvious!) organizational tip to use a tickler file at home. More of a duh moment, given that she has used one indispensably at work for YEARS, without putting together the cute name, or its immense applicability to home/personal life.

Karla bites the bait of the author’s advice to use a labelmaker.  A gimmick that should remove psychological barriers to necessary filing with its neat, typeset labels.  “I can’t explain it, but people invariably report that it works” the author relates from his past advice-giving experiences.  Fun perhaps, he muses?  Hmm.  <insert friendly, mild eye-brow raising skepticism>  All the same…

Karla orders said gadget from Staples….    …it arrives…


Karla has (rather sophomoric!) fun labeling her family instead of IN ADDITION TO her manila folders.

Who knew a labeler could be such fun? Heart borders for the seven-year-old girl. More masculine borders for the ten-year-old boy. “Awesome Dad of the World” label for the hubby…

Yup. Having fun. Stay tuned & see if Karla actually derives home-organizational benefit from the gimmick of typeset labels. (hope springs eternal….)

Wii Outdoor Challenge Active Life

January 19, 2009

Just returned from our becoming annual event of Christmas in January with the stepson and family.  They got my kids the Wii game, “Outdoor Challenge” using the new Active Life Mat controller.  You jog, jump, row, & more –  you can play alone, compete with a friend, cooperate with a friend…

…you can play your children’s game and have the re-realization of what an out-of-shape couch spud you truly are!  Experiencing painful calves today after some rousing Outdoor Challenge games played yesterday…

(I gotta say though, it was genuinely fun!  No lie.)

Thinking this could become a (fun?) workout for me, the exercise-allergic?  I’ll keep you informed as I rack up my APs (Active Points)

Or not…if you’ve been with me any length of time you’ll well know not to hold your breath on THAT arena, don’t you?  (ha ha ha!!!)

(two of my personal faves are Mole Whacker and Jump Rope <smile>)

Snow DAY!

December 9, 2008

My city is (usually) well-known for its reticence to call school.

Today, I woke up early, in case I’d have to dig out.  But alas, the beautiful sound of no school called out to me.  There’d been a company email to listen to a certain radio station in case my employer closed.

I waited expectantly.  My clinic also doesn’t close often, but surely I thought, if the school closed, shucks, the whole city will close down, much like southern states that don’t have plows and budgets for salt.  It’s like a signal for the town to close down, right?

Wrong.  I guess the good news in it is that I was up early enough to drive nice and slowly…a husband who went out to snowblow…to live in a time when powerful snowblowers even EXIST…a road shared with drivers who were uncharacteristically considerate and careful.  Yay!

And then, surprise of surprises, our clinic closed early!  I got out at 3pm instead of 5:30.

And the kids and I played in the snow, while the wonderful hub finished snowblowing for me again.  What a nice guy.

And oddly enough, it was a pain, but I didn’t think it quite qualified for the storm of the century, from the snow volume or slippery roads standpoint.  Oh well.  Not one thing wrong with getting out of work early and playing outside with the little tykers.  Yippee.