Why Do Bad Things Happen?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  This is what Paul wrote to the church in Rome. (Romans 8:28)  Do we know this?  I mean, really know it?

One time we got some "bad gas" (fuel for our van, not the other kind!) that messed up our fuel gauge.  Hubby and I were on the interstate, about a mile and a half from our exit, when the needle suddenly dropped and the van stalled.  We started praying that God would please get us as close as possible to the exit.  We knew that even if we coasted that far, it was still at least another mile to the closest gas station and we were not dressed for a walk.  Well, we kept praying and Hubby kept steering and the van kept coasting.  I couldn't believe it when we made it around the bend to the exit ramp! Instead of pulling over, Hubby decided to see how far up the ramp we could coast... we kept going!  The light at the top of the ramp is always red and is a couple minutes long.  We didn't want to get stuck in the lane at the light, so we prayed that we could pull over, but just then the light turned GREEN!  So we coasted through, somehow making the turn without any power steering and thought, "Uh oh, we're going to get stuck on the bridge that crosses the interstate."  Just then, the light on the other side of the bridge turned green, so we slid through that one, too!  At this point, Hubby knew we couldn't get much further and we were going pretty slow, so he was driving on the shoulder to stay out of everyone's way.  Around another bend in the road and another red light.  Once again, just as we approached, it turned green!  The gas station was just up ahead, albeit with a steep entrance that we couldn't possibly get up at the speed we were crawling by now.  Do you believe that we not only made it up that incline, but to within mere feet of the pump?  I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't been there myself!  This was definitely an example of answered prayer!

Why did God choose to provide what we asked for in this silly case, when so often we pray for someone's life, health, comfort, or other "legitimate" request, and he chooses to say no?  This is the question that probably keeps most people from accepting God's existence.  Why does he let the bad things happen?  When I fell down a flight of stairs, breaking several bones and ending up in a wheelchair, I prayed for a quick recovery.  I asked God to amaze my doctors with my "miraculous" healing so that I could get back to my life as soon as possible.  I felt confident the day the surgeon who put my ankle back together came in to check on me.  I was sure he was going to say I was healing fast and should be able to go home and get back to work in a few days.  I was devastated.  Three more weeks in the hospital!  Two entire months confined to a wheelchair!  This wasn't happening... I had prayed fervently!  Why did God refuse to grant my request?  It's not fair!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  This was for my good?  It all is.  We have to know that, even when we don't like it.  I was a new Christian when this happened.  I was taught countless valuable lessons through this trial.  I saw my brothers' and sisters' selflessness as they attended to my and my daughter's needs.  Transportation, food, laundry, everything was taken care of.  Without that experience, would I perhaps be a more selfish Christian who doesn't step forward when someone is in need?  Would I not have learned the peace that comes from ceaseless prayer? What about being humble?  It's hard to not be humble when other people are laundering your underwear.  Is it the way I would have done it?  No.  But God knows what's best for me when I don't.  He takes the most miserable experiences in our life and works them out for GOOD!  Know that.  Even when you don't feel it at the time. It all takes place in HIS time, not ours, and his plan is perfect.  Thank you, Lord, for knowing what's best for me and working good out of even the worst situations!

Workin' for the Weekend

I have errands to run.  I haven't done my workout yet today.  And that means I haven't showered yet. (Why would you shower before you work out?  Duh)  There is also plenty of housework going by the wayside.  Yes, I am PROCRASTINATING.  Man, I'm good at it.  I go to bed at night with a wonderful idea of how the next day is going to work, only to wake up and think, "Meh, maybe later."

I live for my Saturdays.  They are like a beacon shining in the distance that gets me through the work-week.  Last night, Hubby said that while he hates to wish a day away, he was anxious for the Steelers game Sunday night.  I understand that, but c'mon, of all the days you could wish away, not my Saturday!  Now, don't get me wrong... Fridays are great (except for the part where I have to spend the bulk of it at the office).  Yesterday I took an impulse nap when I got home from work, then we ordered Chinese and just relaxed, watching our own little Bones marathon on Netflix (my latest addiction.  Read this post to see what I mean).  But Saturday... sleeping in, puttering around the house, doing whatever needs done or I want to do (or not do, as is the case today), but most importantly, not having to go to the office.  I really like my job, I just don't like the inflexibility of it.  I've dreamed of telecommuting, but too many of my responsibilities require me to be at the office.  Then again, I've dreamed of being a housewife, but I can't get anyone to pay me for it.

What is your favorite day of the week?  Why?  Do you struggle with procrastination on Saturdays like I do?  Or am I just lazy?

And what is your dream job?  Tell us about it! 

An Honest Day’s Pay for An Honest Day’s Work

An often-quoted Bible verse: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

What are wages? The money we earn for doing our job. We get paid our wages when we actively choose to perform the tasks that we were told would result in us getting paid, right? So if the wages are payment for work done, then sin is the work. It is something we actively choose to do, not something that "happens to us" or that we can't avoid. And just like the boss tells us when we start a job what our wages will be, the Bible tells us what we will earn for sin: death.

When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, God "paid them their wages". Genesis 3:22 says: And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So when Adam was 930 years old, he died. God paid him his wages. When we choose to commit sin, we earn our own death. Eternal death, or what is also called the second death. (Revelation 2:11 & 20:14)

But what about the second half of that verse? "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." What is a gift? Something given to us out of love, without us doing anything to earn it. So even though we EARNED death, God gives us the GIFT of life! But hold on, it doesn't just say he gives us eternal life, it says he gives us eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. So what does that mean?

To be "in Christ Jesus" means when God looks at us, he's looking at us through his son, like a filter that makes us appear clean and worthy of eternal life. Without that filter, he sees us as we really are: sinful and deserving of death. We can only receive the gift of eternal life if we are in Christ Jesus, who himself said, "No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) So only those who are in Christ Jesus will get the gift of eternal life. Does that sound narrow-minded and unfair to all the billions of good people in the world who don't happen to be Christians? Maybe, but "...wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

So how does one get to be in Christ Jesus? The people asked Peter this in the Book of Acts, chapter 2 and he replied "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39)

Have you repented of your sins? Have you chosen to then be baptized? A baby cannot repent his or her sins, so baptizing a baby doesn't make sense. And what is baptism anyway? The greek word, baptisma, literally means "immerse". It is immersion into the water, exactly as it was performed in the Bible. Water was not poured or sprinkled on the person... the person was immersed into it. It represents the burial and resurrection of Jesus (going into the water and then coming out). Again, pouring or sprinkling water on a person would not imitate a burial or a resurrection.

So, to sum it all up: For the wages (what we earn) of sin is death (eternity away from God, in hell), but the gift (undeserved and freely given) of God is eternal life (eternity with God in heaven) in Christ Jesus our Lord (having repented and been baptized). In other words, we deserve to spend eternity in hell, but God will let us spend it with him in heaven, as long as we are faithful Christians.

Like Thor Ramsey Once Said, "It's Barely Freezing!"

Reason #36 why I question my sanity:  I live in Northwestern Pennsylvania where the weatherman sounded like he was giving us good news when he said, "Tomorrow, we'll have highs near 25!"  Oh, how can I possibly contain my excitement.

Going to the mail box... brb.
At least, I think it's Reason #36... or is #36 the one where I thought adopting a friend's cat as a favor would actually work out and our cats would become friends?  Hmmm... I know numbers 1 through 35 are particular dreams that I've had that make me question my sanity.  I know that when I share these dreams with others, they also question my sanity, so I've learned to keep them to myself.  Anyway...

We've got about a kabillion inches of snow and it won't quit.  Seriously.  Even when you think it quit, if you look closely you can see it's still snowing a little tiny bit, as if the sky was a leaky faucet you can't shut off completely.  I have one of those in our shower, so I know what I'm talking about.  Yeah, I'm like a leaky faucet expert.  Oops, lost my train of thought again.  Snow, cold, winter, miserable, yeah that's what we were talking about.

I've lived in this area all but two years of my life and every winter I wish I lived somewhere warmer.  Those two years I didn't live here?  Yeah, I lived in ROCHESTER NEW YORK.  Guess I wasn't satisfied with the lake effect snow we get here, so I moved to Rochester.  Duh.  I read recently that some scientists compiled a bunch of data over a lot of years (real technical stuff) and came up with a list of the snowiest (on average) cities in the U.S.  Erie, PA was number 6.  Rochester was number 3.  Good choice there, Jules.  Of course, the numbers this season show that Erie is actually having a pretty light year so far with only 29 inches, compared to Rochester's 52.5.  Okay, Northwestern PA is starting to look pretty good.  And for anyone that cares, based on this season's numbers alone, Rochester is still holding firm to their #3 spot but Erie has dropped down to #11!  But that still leaves about a million other cities I could move to that have less snow!  (Zero inches works for me)

I'll probably grow old and die here.  Of hypothermia.  In the meantime, if you'd like to read more of my Adventures in Winter Wonderland, go here.

Eight Days a Week, That Might Be Enough

The other day, I posted my Facebook status as: "Sometimes I wonder if I expect too much of myself or I'm just not pushing myself hard enough... tonight I didn't do 70% of what I set out to do & I'm exhausted!"  It was just the way I was feeling at the time (and many times before and after that moment), but I've been thinking about it ever since.  Which is it?

See, I'm out of shape, so I really want to exercise and lose some weight.  I also really enjoy writing this little blog and would like to spend more time on it.  Those two things don't sound like too much to take on, maybe an hour a day for each?  But here's the thing: I have a full-time job that enables us to do things like eat and pay the mortgage and other slightly important stuff.  So that takes up my time (including time for showering, dressing, commuting, etc) from 7 in the morning until 5 at night.  My lunch hour is actually only half an hour and half the time I don't take one anyway.  I'm married and have three step-kids, although they're only with us a few days a week.  The kids, I mean.  Hubby has agreed to live with me full-time.  Anyway, I still have to prepare meals (and yes, he helps) and clean house and do laundry and go to the grocery store and get the oil changed and... you get the idea.  So trying to find an hour a day to exercise and an hour a day to blog doesn't sound so simple anymore.  I should also mention that I require at least seven hours of sleep, my body and brain do not function with less.

What's the answer?  How do you handle this problem in your own life?  I'm looking for advice!

2011 is Off and Running! I'm Just Trying to Keep Up!

Wow, it’s been a crazy busy week and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down for the next few days.  I’ve been wanting to post but just haven’t had the time to dedicate to it.  So this is my “write a sentence whenever I get a chance” post.  In other words, it probably won’t make any sense.

So, those New Year’s resolutions… how are you doing on yours?  I’m weaning myself off the diet Coke, not as fast as I first intended, but I’m hoping that by making it as “painless” as possible I won’t fall off the wagon so easily.  My replacements for it are water and unsweetened iced tea.  Anybody have any other (healthy) suggestions?  I’ve never been one to just drink a glass of milk, it just doesn’t appeal to me, and obviously substituting the diet Coke with a sugary drink would just be trading one problem for another.  People have suggested flavoring my water with anything from fruit slices to Crystal Light, but I actually prefer plain water to flavored water for some reason.  So what else does that leave?  Wine!   Just kidding!

Another resolution of mine is the typical weight-loss resolution.  I got the P90X DVDs from a friend and intended to start them on Monday.  Then I woke up that morning with my back is major spasm and spent the day at home on muscle relaxers and pain pills.  So Tuesday was going to be Day One… until I ended up working late and then having to do the grocery shopping and dinner.  By the time I got finally home, it was almost time for bed!  I knew today was out of the question before it even started… straight from work to an eye exam to the first night of our Ladies’ Bible study.  I don’t even see eating happening anywhere in there, let alone exercising.  So let’s aim for tomorrow, eh?  I’m past due for an oil change and almost made an appointment to get it done after work tomorrow but I stopped myself: “No!  The car can go another day or two without the oil change; if I put off starting this P90X, it’ll never get done!”  So tomorrow it is.  I’m gonna be in soooo much pain on Friday.

My final resolution was to fix a broken relationship.  I won’t go into details but I am working on it and I think the other person might be, too.  Either that or I’m just wearing them down!  I’ve tried to fix it a few times before and whenever I’d see a glimmer of hope, Hubby would tell me not to get my hopes up.  At the time I thought he was just being pessimistic, but after repeated episodes of “I think they’re coming around” being followed by “I can’t believe they just said/did that to me”, I saw that he was just trying to be realistic because he didn’t want to see me get hurt again.  This has gone on for the better part of 2010 and my goal is to not have it be a part of 2011!

So that’s my resolution update… how are yours going?  Let me know!!!

Why Firestarter Was the Scariest Movie of My Childhood... I've Never Trusted Drew Barrymore Since

I think my brother is a pyromaniac.  Of course, I’m basing this on three separate incidents from childhood and have no recent occurrences to back up the claim, but I’m sure it’s true anyway.

The first related memory I have of this is standing in our kitchen with my brother sitting at the table playing with our mom’s cigarette lighter.  I was very small and the memory has faded, but I do know that it ended with my bangs significantly shorter, the smell of burnt hair in the air, and Big Bro saying, “Don’t tell Mom.”

The other incidents are clearer in my mind.  The first was at Christmas and we were decorating the tree.  This was the seventies, so we didn’t have pre-lit trees and anyway, we were still using real trees.  Maybe someday God will start making pre-lit real trees, but in those days, we had to string the lights on the tree ourselves.  Now that I’m writing this, I’m beginning to realize that it’s a wonder that house is still standing... But I digress.  Now, everyone knows you need to test the lights before putting them on the tree.  But not everyone (at least not Big Bro) knew that you need to test them somewhere other than on top of the highly flammable tree skirt.  Then again, if he is a pyromaniac, maybe it was all part of his evil plan???

Long story short, one of the bulbs blew when he plugged them in and it immediately caught the tree skirt on fire.  Dad was in the den, Mom was in the kitchen, and Big Bro and I were frantically stomping in the living room as quietly as possible, giggling as if setting our house on fire was actually funny.  I seem to recall another sibling in the dining room who probably witnessed the event.  If so, would you please step forward and confirm this?  You can remain anonymous (there are nine of us kids, so remaining anonymous in our family is actually plausible).

These two events seemed to me to be completely unrelated until I suddenly remembered The School Project.  Being several years younger than Big Bro, I don’t recall what class this project was for, or if it even was a legitimate project or just an excuse to do random dangerously stupid stuff and catch it all on film.  I know that this is a daily occurrence for teenagers today but back then, there were no cell phones and the average family didn’t own a video camera.  So most of the dangerously stupid things teenagers did could only be recorded in our memories, not on film.  But I remember Big Bro and his friends, one of whom had a camera, putting together some sort of film that I never saw but got to witness parts of it in action.  And what I witnessed was them setting one of our old outbuildings on fire and then putting it out with snow.  I vaguely remember those old sheds.  They weren’t really buildings, but some sort of giant storage crates that Dad turned into little rabbit hotels.  Lots of chicken wire cages filled with bunnies that I used to let out when no one was looking because I felt they needed to run free.  Well, the bunnies were gone by this time and the sheds were just sitting there slowing falling into ruin.  So they burned one down.  I don’t even know if they had permission to do it.  I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt on that part.

And there you have it; case closed.  Big Bro was a pyromaniac in his youth.  He now lives in a lovely home with his lovely wife and hasn’t burned it down yet, so I guess he got better.  Or maybe he just got smarter about what he sets ablaze...

P.S. If you know my brother and have any other related incidents, please let me know... maybe it’s not too late for an intervention!

P.P.S. Still working on getting the html fixed for my comments section but with being a holiday weekend, it’s slow going... but don’t let that deter you from leaving your comments!  I’m still getting them, even if they don’t show up on the blog right now.  Happy New Year!