Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Five Worst Reasons to Hold a Garage/Estate/Moving Sale

  1. You want exercise.  Well, if it’s exercise you want, preparing for a sale will exercise your back right into the easy chair.  And a wonderful chair it is, I might add.
  2. You want some extra cash.  If it’s cash you want, there are far better ways to earn it.  In terms of hours worked, the profit came to far less than minimum wage.
  3. You want to find out who your friends are.  Yes, you can’t do it alone and your true friends are the ones who volunteer to help before you resort to begging or promising huge rewards.  Three friends (including my husband) helping me on the day of the sale and 3 other friends helped me prepare for the sale, packing, organizing, and pricing.  But I knew they were my friends before the sale. 
  4. You want to have your own opinion of yourself destroyed, your house cluttered, and emotions frazzled.  Yes, the garage sale showed me how strong, unsentimental, and non-materialistic I truly was.  I could not give up my grandma’s conch shell which I had never wanted in the past, my heart broke to see my mother’s talented home design being torn apart, and I carefully sifted through all of the items and filled my house and car with things I had never wanted, didn’t need, but couldn’t let go of.
  5. Finally, the single worst reason to hold a sale is for the money.  The psychic wear and tear as people pay pennies on the dollar for items precious to my mother and as other precious items go unwanted is not worth the small amount of cash I ended up with.

Never again will I hold a garage sale.  Have you had a similar experience?  Perhaps yours was a great success.  Let me know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Make Room for the Sensitives

I recently finished a book about a group to which512px-Utara_Coal_Mine_2 up to half of the population belongs:  Introverts.  Introverts have many qualities.  I’m going to discuss one which was a mystery to me for most of my life.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

In psychological terms it is known as Sensitive.  Like other Sensitives, I am frightened by loud sudden noises, sickened by offensive odors, and overwhelmed by emotion.   I tried to overcome my fear of loud noises by attending fireworks displays during my high school, college, and post-college years.  Did it work?  No.  Many noises disturb and distract me, from the wail of a child to the backfire of a car to the scream of a siren.  In college I studied in the highest level stacks where ancient dissertations were kept—the only place where I could find complete quiet.

It’s not only noise that disturbs me.  Offensive odors, real or imagined, make me feel sick, sometimes to the point of vomiting.  The odor of decay, the smell of smoke, the effluvium of excrement, all cause me distress. 

Finally, the emotions of others overwhelm me to the point where I cannot react.  Pray for the sick?  I can barely stand to be around them.  Stand up to an argument?  Be near people experiencing pain, anger, distress of any type?  I need to leave before I dissolve into a huddled heap.  Watch a movie like The Passion of the Christ or Schindler’s List?  Never.  The reality is that I appear non-reactive when confronted with personal pain because if I allowed myself to react it would render me non-functional and the reaction would be out of proportion to the pain.

All of these things have caused me to feel like an outsider in a society that loves loud music and in a church that teaches us to pray for the sick. 

So what’s the upside?  I’m still trying to figure that out. 

Being sensitive makes us more aware.  Like the canary in the mine, you had better heed our warnings; we may save your life. 

Are there any other Sensitives out there?  What are some of the benefits? 




Coal Mine photo By Ray go (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 11, 2012

Self-Deprecating Prayers—Let’s Keep It Simple


How do you pray?  Is it simply a blast toward the unknown in a time of distress?  Do you pray to the one you know loves you, hears you, and responds?  What does that prayer sound like?256px-Prayer

Sunday morning I was tired.  When I’m tired I seem to find fault with something I might let slide on another day.  On Sunday it was our worship leader’s prayers.  In truth, her prayers usually distress me.  Part of that is because I have spent years overcoming the feeling that I don’t belong, that I’m too different, that I don’t fit in with the stream, that I’m a fish out of water. 

I feel that I don’t belong because I only recently realized that my symptoms (see, I’m still treating it like a disease), my attributes as an introvert are OK, acceptable, and maybe even valuable.  Even while I mentally acknowledge this statement, I mentally search for ways to “fix” me.  Someday, I will have no doubts, but until that time, I teeter between the truth and the falsity I grew up with; sleep deprivation tends to swing me toward the dark side.

Jesus, taught us (introverts included) that we could approach God with confidence.  He taught his followers to communicate directly, no beating around the bush, no self-flagellation.   Here is what he said.  Read it out loud.  What do you hear?

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:7-13 NIV)

Notice, he said “how you should pray,” not what you should pray for.  It’s simple.  We can stand, sit, kneel, or assume any position we like.  We can speak words of our need:  Father I need you today.  Life isn’t working; open my eyes so I can see your kingdom and be part of it.  Keep me from hurting myself or others.  Forgive me for the harm I cause.  Nourish me with Yourself, Your word, your food.  We can approach God easily.

On Sunday morning, I hear something like: “We just want to praise You God.  We just want to be here with you.  Won’t you just come and be with us.”  I hear someone who doesn’t trust that God will provide.  I see her miserable on her bloodied knees just begging God for just some morsel.  Maybe it’s a sloppy speech habit.  Maybe she feels that she needs to pray between songs and doesn’t know what to say so she uses “just” as a filler word.  But what I hear is: I’m worthless, approaching God as a person without worth, even though he made me in his image.  I’ve spent years trying to overcome that feeling; I don’t need have it thrust at me at church.

My husband often accuses me of using words he doesn’t understand.  Self-deprecating means under-valuing ourselves, seeing ourselves as worthless worms.  (Although worms are useful:  they till and fertilize the soil and provide food for plants, fish and birds.)  It’s the opposite of the problem we have of over-valuing ourselves or our children and letting them believe that everything they do is amazing.   Here’s a more measured attitude from a Boston area high school graduation speech titled “You’re Not Special.”

So, extroverts and introverts and everyone, let’s be careful how we say things.  Let’s monitor our words so that when we’re leading a group in prayer we’ll follow the direction of Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NIV):   Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

If you need help making your words few, try writing your words.  Then rewrite and excise those words that add nothing or mean nothing and don’t belong.  Words aptly spoken will arise in beauty from simple thoughts and right use of language. (Pv. 25:11, NIV)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Silver Slivers

I started an essay last year and am working toward its256px-Broken_glass completion.  It recounts my struggle to deal with my parents’ decay leading to their death.  In that essay I wrote “My prayers shattered to the ground; the silvered slivers pierced my soul.”

Today I read Ann Voskamp’s blog where she looked at silver slivers in a different way.  Her slivers are slivers of a whole we cannot see.  (Try to say that three times rapidly!)

Read about her slivers:  http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/05/for-the-days-that-seem-to-be-going-bad/




Photo By Jef Poskanzer (originally posted to Flickr as smash) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons