Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WHEW!

It's been a busy few days. A lot going on, mostly internally, but some external stuff. Like the business tax deadline for filing some of That Man's business paperwork TODAY. Which we're still working on. ACK!!

However, an angel in the form of my friend Diane came over twice this week to help me. One night, she came over and watched the kiddos so I could go to work-she also washed the dishes and folded the laundry. Today, she came over to vaccuum, dust, and mop the floors. I love my friend Diane. :) Which means I ran around like a madwoman picking everything up so she could do it. I'd ask for bets on how long it would stay clean, but considering the downstairs is already torn apart after having it spotless last night, I'm expecting it won't last much beyond naptime. So let's take deep happy breaths and enjoy the feeling of a clean house while it lasts.

I also got my contest entry mailed off, which I tried to email last night, but Paypal and I don't get along. I seriously hate them. I've had the same password FOREVER, and it keeps telling me it's not the password. When I email them for the lost password thing, they either don't respond (which is what is going on now) or they send me the exact same password I've been using, and it magically works. So I had to race to the post office today and overnight it, which cost me an extra million dollars. Ugh.

And in preparing my contest entry, I managed to cut two ten page synopses down to five. I am impressed with myself. In fact, I think I might have maybe learned something. Like, even though I love lots and lots of words, I really can do it in less and not die!

It's snowing again. I don't know who stole our weather, but they need to give it back. Pronto. I had to walk B to her friend's house, and it was icky.

Okay, time to figure out what's for dinner tonight. I think I'm going to grab some of the Sudafed that I obtained through the monstrous legal paperwork that it now requires, and hope that chases away the bit of a headache that's coming on.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Joy of Being a Mommy...


I came home late tonight from work to find my creature sleeping, and it was so sweet, I had to take a picture. It's been a rough little while for us. Potty training, Mommy's busy schedule, and just life with a two year old. Oh, how I love this girl. I'm not sure why she's all fixed up the way she is, but somehow, in two year old logic, it had to have made perfect sense. And had I been there when she went to bed, I probably would have ordered her in my best angry Mommy tone, told her to stop monkeying around and go to bed like a normal little girl. I'm so glad I wasn't. Otherwise, I wouldn't have the joy of this picture that I'll be able to torture her with when she's older, like when she trades toddler rebellion for teenage rebellion.


I decided to share the picture, and then, as I was looking at pictures to download, I found another one I love of her with her sister. I was sitting at the computer, and the kiddos decided they wanted "mommy time", so they sat in my arms while I worked, and before I knew it, the one I dub "the terrorist" was sound asleep in my arms.

I was commenting to a friend tonight that I wondered if God does this-takes little snapshots of perfectly sweet moments in our lives that He wants to hold closest to His heart to treasure.

Because yes, my children are terrorists. And yes, they drive me insane. But wow, they are incredible little girls. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Extenders Bill

Heard of it?

If you haven't, you may be missing out on some important tax savings if you file before February 3rd.

Because Congress did not pass certain tax legislation until the very last day of the the last session, and the IRS had already gone to press with the new forms, a lot of the tax provisions for this year can't be efiled until after February 3rd. Many people are under the impression that they can't get these tax breaks this year, so take note!

Affected provisions:
1. Tuition and Fees Deduction
2. State and Local Sales tax deduction
3. Educator Expense Adjustment to Income

Also important to note, if you don't efile (and why NOT? You get your return processed more quickly when you do.), the forms will not reflect these items and they have to be written in and properly notated in order for the IRS to process them.

So if you're able to take advantage of these deductions, take note! Tax savings from the relative we love to hate, Uncle Sam!

Friday, January 26, 2007

My shoulders are about to break

I've often commented about how I feel like the world is balancing on my shoulders. I have so many balls to juggle, and if one comes crashing down, they all seem to follow. I'm frustrated. It's easy to say, so stop juggling, but who else is going to pick them up? Who else will take care of all the things I take care of? I'm just tired.

I was going to talk about all the stuff that keeps piling up on my shoulders, and honestly, it depresses me. So you don't get to her me whining. I know, you're feeling really deprived on that count.

I know that whole saying about God not giving a person more than they can handle. But my shoulders are truly about to break. I am so tired of feeling like everything is my job. And when people decide to "help" me, it ends up being more of a chore for me. It's not like I'm all that smart. So how is it that I seem to be able to do anything and everything that's required of me, but the people around me can barely wipe their own butts? Well, unless you're looking at my children, because I do that for them, too. But we're hopeful in that department. The baby has stayed dry for over twenty four hours. She's been doing great using the potty, so maybe that'll be one less thing on my list of things to do.

All right. I'm truly sounding like a pathetic raving idiot. It was a bad day. Tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More on The Book

Yep, it's back ON!

And I think I even have a framework for it.

Be afrad. Be very afraid.

Or not.

I was hoping God would make it easy and link it to Hosea somehow, but Noooooo. Which is probably okay, because these Hosea commentaries are tough to wade through. My brain starts hurting after a paragraph.

I really feel like things are starting to come together for me. It's like God is finally saying, GO!!!!!! in a huge way.

My friend and I are planning a retreat in August similar to the one she did in December, only it'll be in another part of the country, and I think I'll be teaching. It's weird, because this was a dream I've had for years, but no one ever shared my vision like she does. Which is awesome, because I'm finding more things she and I have in common, and it's just awesome.

Speaking of teaching, I've applied to teach a tax class at the ACFW conference, which has the people who know about it really excited. It doesn't seem directly linked, and yet, it seems like an important thing for me to do.

Then, my other friend, who I've been wanting to get to know better and spend more time with, invited me to join her on a short mission trip this spring. The timing is really perfect, and I'm really excited to go out and experience a mission on a smaller level with someone whose heart is just so on fire for Jesus. She totally inspires me, and I'm really excited to be able to share this with her.

Plus, I've got some really good feelings about my writing, and some clearer direction, which is always good. I'm still intimidated by The Book, because I can make stuff up until the cows come home, but how do I spend 200 pages talking about stuff I don't make up? How do I convey truth in a meaningful way? The super cool thing is, that after conversing with some folks online, I've realized how not alone I am in the emotion and feeling behind The Book. So even though it is discouraging in some ways, in terms of the enormity of the problem, it is very encouraging to know how needed it is.

Finally, one of the things one of my other friends has had me thinking about, is that I would like to explore the Jewish roots of my faith. I'm so fascinated by it all, and she'd been sharing some of the things she'd been learning. One of the things I'd decided for this year is that I'd like to celebrate some of the Jewish holidays and festivals. Not in a legalistic way, or because I think it will make me a better Christian, but because I want to encounter God in celebrating things like Passover. Anyway, as I was browsing the bookstore tonight, they had calendars on sale. Don't know why I looked, since I really don't need a new calendar, but I did. And I found a Jewish calendar. Which is funny, because my friend showed me hers and I thought it was cool, but remarked that I'd never seen one. I bought a beautiful wall calendar that I think I'm going to frame the pics from, as well as a pocket calendar.

I realize these all sound like semi random unrelated things, but I just keep feeling like they are all really connected to this plan that God has for me. And somehow, it's all going to be woven together and come out in a really cool way. I'm so excited!! I just can't wait to see what God is going to do with all of this. Sort of like a crazy life of Danica casserole.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More than homicidal...

After all this wait for the return of my beloved Veronica Mars...

The epi had possibilities. The monkey thing... very cute. I was impressed at Veronica's evolving humanity. The thing with Piz... not impressed until it made Veronica run back to Logan. The thing with Logan and the surfer chick... completely not impressed. Logan and Veronica back together....

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

Did I say YES? :)

The only dark cloud was the look of sympathy on Veronica's face for Piz when he realized Veronica and Logan were back together. She is NOT ALLOWED to be sympathetic towards him. She is NOT ALLOWED to cry on his shoulder. I will not have some messed up disgusting love triangle in my beloved show.

Which leads me to the previews for next week:

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

I am so sick of this get together, break up, get together, have some other catastrophic event split them up, garbage.

Allow me to explain: They are to get together, and no matter what comes between them, they are going to work it out and find a way to stay together. And they will be better people, and a better couple for it. They will get married, have a couple of adorable little detective cherubs, and they will live happily ever after.

Why is this formula so hard to follow? Are the writers so unimaginative that they can't figure out ways of making the show interesting without making the characters completely miserable? The only hope I have is that they'll have the same realization as the almost dead but finally redeemed Alias people who managed to save the show with the very last episode and kept Syd and Vaughn together.

Hurry up and wake up, Veronica writers! I'm telling you, if you do not keep Veronica and Logan together, you will have rabid homicidal maniacs out to get you.

Down and Up

A friend was telling me today about a dream she had about me-that social services had called to ask her questions about what kind of mom I am.

You know, I joke a lot about my kiddos being terrorists. I threaten to duct tape them so I can have ten seconds of peace and quiet. But the truth is, these girls are precious to me. I get frustrated with them, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.

So here I was today, thinking, wow, maybe I should be careful about how I joke about them, because you never know which big brother is watching. And then I realized that anyone who knows me knows that they are my joy. I've never hurt them, and would do anything to avoid doing so.

Which led to me feeling pretty darn proud of myself about how I work so hard to be a good mom to them, and to help them grow as people.

Then...

The baby woke up from her nap.

"Mom, I pooped."

The part she didn't mention was that she also painted her room with her poop.

Homicide, here I come. Okay, so I opted to give her a bath, clean up the mess, and remind myself that my revenge will come with her children.

Needless to say, I was really glad to leave for work. I did get dinner on the table, but left the kitchen a total mess because rather than picking up the kitchen and maybe getting a minute or two to relax, I had to clean up poop. Yep, yet again, my day turned to crap.

I was slightly afraid to return home to the mess I hadn't gotten to (yes, all the poop did get cleaned up before I left). When I walked in the door and put my stuff down, everyone was already in bed. But as I passed her door to check on That Man, I heard her little voice calling for her mommy.

So I went into her room, and she was sitting in her bed, with a big smile. "Mommy, I missed you," she said. And then, in best baby form, she told me all about her evening. She made sure I knew that she had stars above her bed (as if I could forget-I nearly broke my neck putting them up there) and that she thought they were beautiful. She wrapped those tiny arms of hers around my neck and said, "Mommy, I love you." I held her for a while, and listened to her chatter amidst the snores of her big sister, and as I felt that baby soft head resting against my chest, I knew that even if I had to clean up crap every single day for the rest of my life, it would totally be worth it.

Although God, please, I would appreciate it if you didn't test me in that. ;)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

No, I am not procrastinating!

Okay, so yes I am.

What are YOU going to do about it?

Besides, I did get some work done. This week's event is done and up. Author emailed. Shameless pimping done. All discussions completely caught up.

I also did some fun ministry stuff that I am probably insane for starting, but you know what? It was fun, it was relaxing, and it also involved some good clean family time. OH! And it was a cool scrapbooking project. I am such a nerd. Although it makes me really really really want a place where I can have it all organized and straightened because it's all stashed in weird places.

Which brings me to the thing I'm procrastinating on. My house is a mess! I really need to get busy cleaning, but YUCK! The problem with working all day Saturday is that the husband and/or sitters are only capable of either keeping the children alive or keeping the house in order. Since I have a higher degree of fondness for my children than I do for the house, I vote to keep the kiddos alive. Wahoo me. And since God and I had a little talk about the time I give Him (thanks to my beloved Joyce Meyer), I spend most of my Sunday relaxing and taking care of myself. Which means letting the children take apart the couch and use the cushions and other items to build a huge stable without yelling at them or making them stop. Among other things.

Sadly, our house is in a much worse state given that this is the five millionth weekend in a row we've had to spend indoors because of the snow and cold. Usually, they predict snow and we don't see it. Now, they predict snow and we get double. Total ICK!

Right. So I guess I should probably go figure out what the slimy stuff on the table is.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The magical earned income credit

I'd sorta mentally planned on blogging tax tips Saturday nights. So we're going to try for installment number two.

Today, we're going to talk about the earned income credit. Here's the deal: Some folks get a credit based on the amount of their EARNED income. It's designed to help out the taxpayers in the lower income brackets. But since it's the "earned income" credit, it's based on the income you earn. Aka if you have no job, you ain't getting it.

I feel the obligation to explain this because every year, I get people who walk into my office, having not worked a day in the entire year, demanding their earned income credit. And when I politely explain that no income equals no credit, they get a little hostile. Just because your brother's cousin's ex-sister in law used to know someone who did taxes and that person said you get an earned income credit does not make it so.

Which leads to my other point about the earned income credit. It's a bell curve. This means that the more you earn, the more you get. UNTIL... the magic moment where you hit the top of the curve. Then it curves back down until it tapers off to nothing. Sooo... once you start making a certain amount of money, you don't get it anymore.

Today I got to explain that curve to yet another client fallen victim to *gasp* getting a raise. She was upset because she didn't get as big of a refund this year. So I had to do the math for her. Using approximate numbers here, for obvious reasons, but basically, she made $5,000 more and got back $500 less.

Now, here's the logic she didn't get. Yes, she didn't get as big of a refund, but all in all, she was still $4500 ahead for the year. And yes, I also realize how hard it must be to raise three children alone on half of what our family lives off of. Having been there (well, except for the single part), I understand how hard it is. But I don't make the rules. That would be Congress and the IRS.

My recommendation: if you don't like it, write your representatives.

Until then, please remember what the earned income credit is-and isn't. It's designed to give a hand up to taxpayers with minimum income, and once they start to reach higher income levels, that hand up tapers off. And yes, we can argue about whether or not those amounts of money can really be constituted livable or higher income. However, I don't set those limits. Again, I refer you to Congress.

There you have it-earned income credit in a nutshell. Next week, I'll have another fun little tidbit for you. And if you do have tax questions, do post or email me or whatever, and maybe it can be a future topic of the week. :)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting rid of your fat rolls

Yes, I am still obsessing about fat rolls. But for whatever reason, God is showing me cool stuff about fat rolls, so I'm going with it. :)

One of the things about fat rolls is that you don't just wake up one morning and realize, "I have fat rolls!!" It's a slow process. I'm going to make a confession, and I know some of you will want to stop reading and kill me for it. Bear with me. I promise it'll be worth it. I've been a size two most of my adult life. I stopped growing at age 14 and haven't changed since. Sick, I know, but there it is.

So this morning, I was sitting here wondering how I went from a girl who ate like a pig and STILL couldn't gain weight or go above a two, no matter how hard she tried, to someone who regularly gets the "you need to lose weight" lecture from her doctor, and is thrilled when she can get into a size that's a single digit. And yes, I know that's still tiny to some people. But look at it this way. Think of the size you are now. Imagine going forward a couple of years and being several sizes larger. OUCH!

It's not about what our picture of the "right size" is, but what's a healthy size for you. I'm not at a healthy size for me. Yet, it seems like no matter what I do, I can't get down to where I'm supposed to be.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give my standard lecture/disclaimer here. I feel really strongly about this, so I know a lot of folks have heard this a lot from me, but you're getting it again. Everyone is different. What is healthy for one person is NOT healthy for another person. What society says is beautiful or "the right size" does NOT fit all. Do not use that standard to judge. I will never again be a size two. When I was a size two, the doctor wanted me to gain weight-I tried, but couldn't. (Oh, the irony) I do not WANT to be a size two. I want to be the weight my doctor has told me is a healthy weight for me. Please use that standard in determining what size you should be or how much weight you should lose. Don't compare yourself to others or to what your favorite supermodel looks like.

Okay, off the soapbox and back to my fat rolls. :) How did I get here? Like I said, I didn't wake up one morning, and POOF! I'm twenty pounds heavier. It was a series of small decisions. Going from a 2 to a 4 was no big deal when it happened. A little curves, not bad. When those pants started fitting a little tighter, it was easy to justify going up a size so I had a little extra room. (I despise tight fitting clothes) And when THOSE started fitting tighter, I thought, well, I DO have a little extra baby weight. And so on and so forth. Until I look back, and WOW! I'm several sizes larger.

How did I get several sizes larger? It was all in the little decisions that added up. At first, it's easy to spy that last piece of chocolate cake and think, I'd hate for it to go to waste. So you eat it. And at first, it's a debate. Ultimately, you decide that one extra piece isn't going to hurt. Over time, though, that extra piece of chocolate cake becomes automatic. You're used to eating that piece, and it's no longer an extra treat, but part of your regular diet. You start skipping the gym, each time, it's a different, but still very good reason. Until finally you wonder why you bought the membership in the first place. So you don't go at all. You think, I'll pop in an exercise video, since you have so many. But then you realize that you don't have the full 45 minutes, so you decide you'll do it when you have more than 15 minutes to spare. Which never seems to happen, so all of your exercise videos are now gathering dust.

I look at the other fat rolls in my life. The dishes I say I'll do later. The dusting and vacuuming that doesn't get done because I don't have enough time to fully devote myself to doing the job "right". The prayers I don't say because I don't have enough undistracted "quiet time". The Bible studies I've set aside because of all the times I've said it was okay to skip "just one day".

Sin is a lot like that. It's always a small decision at first. One white lie won't hurt anyone. And then, you find, that because that one lie went down so well, one more won't be so bad. And then another. And another. Then, because that sin didn't seem to have an impact on your life, maybe there's another area where you think it might be okay if you played around in the grey areas. Stretching it. Making it not seem so bad if you did it "just once". But it's never "just once."

The trouble is, once you begin consistently making the wrong decision, it stops becoming a decision and is now a habit. It's a habit to go ahead and eat the chocolate cake. It's a habit to go ahead and tell those little white lies to stay out of hot water. You don't even think about it.

If you want to get rid of the fat rolls in your life, whether they be literal or figurative, you have to become more conscious of your decisions. Each piece of food you put in your mouth has to be a conscious decision as to whether or not it's something you need for nourishment or if it's going in for some other reason-and maybe not the best reason. It means choosing to stick in that tape, or take a walk around the block, even if it's only for ten or fifteen minutes. It means thinking about the things that come out of your mouth and what your motivation for saying it is. It means taking a step back when you start to justify and really ask yourself what you're justifying. It means realizing that you don't have to be perfect, that even a little effort in a particular direction, whether it be the cleanliness of your house, your spiritual life, or even getting that book written, will get you a lot farther down the road than simply doing nothing. If all you write is a page a day, in a year, you'll have an entire book written. But if you wait for "enough time" to get some significant writing done, you might not find that time in a year, and so at the end of the year, you'll have nothing.

Most of us don't fall into sin with one big decision. And yet, we think that one day, because we said just the right prayer, God is going to wave His magic want, and POOF! it'll all be fixed. We got ourselves into this mess by making a lot of little, but wrong, decisions. To get ourselves out, we're going to have to make a lot of little, but right, decisions. And if we're trusting in God to help us with those big things, we need to trust in Him to help us make those small decisions as well.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fat Rolls

Yes, I've degenerated to writing about fat rolls.

You can all blame Heather. It's her fault for making fun of my observations of my fat rolls.

I was always the skinny girl, the one everyone thought needed to gain weight. Enter giving birth twice and hitting thirty, and now I have fat rolls. So tonight, I was sitting here, trying to come up with an inspirational post, and all I have for you is fat rolls.

I never realized how terrible it is to have fat rolls. You have to sit in just the right position, or your fat rolls rub against parts of your body, like your ribs, and make it hard to get comfortable. The creases of fat rolls itch. And when my fat rolls get caught up with my ribs, it's even hard to breathe. So here I am, trying to write, and I'm itchy and uncomfortable, and all I can think about is fat rolls. Like why, if these things are such a pain, why don't we try to lose weight?

I mean seriously! My fat rolls don't keep me any warmer than I was when I was thin. It's a million times harder to get comfortable. I can't sit right. I can't lay down right. I know it's bad for my health. I know I'm more unattractive. I know I feel worse physically.

And yet, I don't do what I know I need to do to get rid of my fat rolls. When does it hurt enough to make it worth my while to change?

Worse, the thing about fat rolls is that it's more than just my increasing waistline. There's the fat roll of my brain-all the stuff I know I need to do that's good for me, and yet I continue to choose to keep my fat rolls. My house is one big fat roll. I hate how messy it gets. And yet, that pan in the sink from last night that I left to "soak" isn't a big enough fat roll to get me off my butt to do what needs to be done to get rid of it.

Am I the only one with a bunch of big, ugly fat rolls?

I pray that in the coming year, we'll all find the strength, courage, and grace of God to take a long look at our fat rolls and make the decision to do whatever it takes to get rid of them once and for all.

Websites you like

Okay, I'm cowgirling up and creating a website. However... I have no idea what I want. Well, that's not true. I do know what I want. I don't want what *I* want, I want what people coming to my website want.

So tell me... what do YOU want to see on a writer's website? What would you want to see on MY website? And if you've been to a great one, share the link so I can see it!

Thanks!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Conspiracies of the Universe

Today is irritate Danica day. If you haven't participated, please don't and say you did.

I couldn't sleep last night, so I didn't go to bed until late. However, at 1 a.m., as I was making That Man's lunch, I noticed he'd left me a note that it was my day to take the Teenager to school the next morning. Fine. I went to bed and forced myself to sleep.

This morning, I woke up exactly one hour before I needed to. I tried to fall back asleep, but B woke up the baby while sneaking out of their room. Great. Brought screaming baby into my bed and we fell asleep ten minutes before I needed to get up to take teenager to school. I did manage to get up in time, race downstairs to make sure I could leave the little ones while I took the big one, and get teenager to school. On time, even.

Got home, and person picking up Houseguest is parked in the middle of the driveway. So I had to turn around and park on the street. Okay, fine. I decide to take a nap. B wants "mommy time". So we play a game instead. Game over, I try to lay down on the couch. Baby wakes up and wants to snuggle. Fine. I put on Disney, and we all snuggle. EXCEPT... these idiotic shows that want the kiddos to be "active". Every time I start to doze off, the kids jump up and start dancing. On top of me. I finally give up and go take a shower. After my shower, I bathe the children, do some laundry and get B ready for school. (Doesn't this sound soooo exciting?)

I take B to school, head to the grocery store, because something in that parenting manual says I'm supposed to feed my children, and I have nothing to feed them for dinner. At the grocery store, I get Baby out of the car, and she decides to throw a fit. In the parking lot. In the slush in the parking lot. She throws herself down in the middle of the slush, screaming bloody murder. When the fit is over, she's soaked, and the only way I can get her to calm down is to hold her. Mud and slush all over my new outfit.

We go through the grocery store, and because I had a bizarre headache last night, I decide I need more Sudafed. I knew I had to go to the pharmacy and get it, however, this time, not only did I have to get it from the pharmacy, but I had to give them my ID (which the lady took and CALLED IN to someplace) and fill out a form indicating I was not going to use the Sudafed illegally. No, I won't. But given that it took them fifteen minutes to authorize my purchase of Sudafed, I was very nearly ready to commit a different sort of crime.

By the time we got home, I was ready for a nap. But I had Baby to get to bed, groceries to put away, mail to deal with (including a letter from the state levying the business we closed last year for this year's taxes). I called the state and talked to a very unfriendly woman who, after hearing part of my story, informed me that I needed to be passed on to a caseworker. I ended up having to leave her a voicemail, which has not yet been returned. I was ready for some self medication with my friend Earl Grey, however, Baby is at her door, screaming that she is poopy. I change her and put her back to bed. I look around at the messy house and decide I'd be happiest if I took a nap instead. Baby is in her bed, B won't be home for another hour, life is good, yes?

No.

I close my eyes and I hear the sound of something strange and metallic coming from the Baby's room. I tell her to go to sleep. Then The Dog starts in. Growling at something. I tell him to shut up. He and the baby spend the next hour alternating making enough noise to not let me get any rest. Just as I start dozing off, I hear, "Mom, I'm home!" I get up. And she is yapping about, I don't know, stuff. I'm still comatose. I finally say, "Honey, I love you, I want to hear all about your day, but can you give me a few minutes?" She goes outside to play. I start fixing her snack. Metallic sounds from Baby's room start back up. I go in to see what she's up to. The little terrorist is taking apart the heating duct. We have a long discussion and I put her back to bed. B comes in, I give her the snack, and I decide to escape the sounds of cartoons and head downstairs.

As I'm checking email, my eye starts itching. I check it out, and I realize how pathetic my life is. During my attempted nap, a spider or something bit me under my eye. I now have a lump on the bag under my eye.

So when people talk about conspiracies, like the whole JFK grassy knoll thing, or what really happened at Roswell, I could care less. Frankly, I'm too tired to consider any of it. All I want to know is what I need to do to get some decent sleep!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Turning the other cheek

I was talking with a person connected to another person I know. The person said to me, "I don't know what the deal is between you and so and so, but so and so misses you guys." The person made a couple of other comments specific to the situation, and within a few seconds, I was inflamed.

See, the situation this person was talking about comes down to this: I made one inappropriate remark to the person. To clarify further, the only person who thought my remark inappropriate was the person I said this to-everyone else thinks it was perfectly justified. However, this person chose to deal with the remark by doing some things to me that were hurtful. I spent a couple of days crying, it hurt so bad. Worse, this person's actions hurt my children. I responded by apologizing. A deep sincere apology asking for this person's forgiveness. This person has not spoken to me since.

So here I am, talking with someone who also knows this person, and in the whole story, *I* am the villain.

I was faced with a choice.

I could have very easily said, "You know what? This isn't my fault. I did all that was right, and this person is the one who made the break. I tried to heal the break, but this person chose not to be a part of it."

But see, I realized something. I knew this person was fishing for dirt. This person would have believed my defense and taken my side. At the expense of the person who's already hurting. My defense would have started a war. I chose to give a very vague, noncommital answer that indicated I had no hard feelings, but no details of what was going on. Nothing to indicate how hurt I was that I am being blamed for a situation that I have done everything to rectify. Nothing to point out the other person's fault in the situation.

I love Sanctus Real's "Fight Song". And it so reminds me of this situation. Because truthfully, the situation is really nothing. Were it not for the fact that I don't want the people involved to stumble across my blog (they don't read it, as far as I know) and hear me griping about it and be hurt by my words, and you knew what started this whole nightmare, you'd think it absolutely ridiculous. But here we are, fighting over nothing. No, not we. I'm not fighting. I just want to move on. But the other person wants revenge.

The problem with revenge is that it only begets more revenge. I hurt someone. I didn't mean to. But because this person felt hurt, this person chose to respond by hurting me. How many conflicts in this world are caused by the cycle of feeling hurt and hurting back? How many personal conflicts have happened because of this?

When we turn the other cheek, we take away the fuel for the other person's weapons. Will my conversation get back to the person who's upset with me? I guarantee it will. But what won't get back to the other person is my anger. My hurt. My frustration. No attacks. And maybe the other person will be frustrated by my lack of anger. It's been known to happen.

But maybe, in my choosing not to seek vindication or retribution, what the other person will see is love. Maybe others, who know the details of the situation, will also see love. And maybe, rather than continuing to grow strife and hatred, a new seed will be planted in the hole created by this mess.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tax Time Fun

I had a most brilliant idea this afternoon as I was training our newbies. We have these popup articles that keep us up to date about the latest news in taxes. One of the recent articles talked about things Americans don't know about taxes. Huh. I know stuff about taxes. Do you know stuff about taxes?

So occaionally, along with my rants about being homicidal, children peeing on the floor (twice today, tyvm, we're potty training), writing, and the occasional inspirational ditty, you'll find some posts about the topic everyone loves to hate-taxes!

Tonight's tax tip: Start getting ready now. Okay, maybe not this exact second, because I'm probably the only person awake right now. However, don't put this one off. Start organizing your tax records and receipts now. I know, most people haven't gotten their W2s yet. But, if you wait until then, something else is going to come up, then something else, and before you know it, it's going to be April, and you'll be scrambling like mad to get it all together. So take some time now. Get those records together. Besides, it's a lot easier to find that "missing receipt" now, rather than doing the April scramble and missing out on something you could have otherwise have deducted.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fun with Bios

This is for Heather, who didn't believe I was really working on it.

Guess which one I'm using...

Number One
If you’re looking for answers, this isn’t the place to go. While I know a lot of things, and have been through a lot of different situations, I don’t have it all figured out yet. But that’s the fun of the journey. So if you’re a fellow traveler, than I highly recommend sticking around. You might learn something from me, and I might learn something from you. Either way, it’s bound to be a good time.

Number Two
Once upon a time, Danica dreamt of becoming a princess. But since that job has been taken by a group of psychotic inbred women with pedigrees, she decided to write about them instead. Well, killing them, actually, so that the ordinary girl with a lot of heart ends up with the prince. Unfortunately, those books didn’t sell so well, so Danica channeled her energies into fighting a different sort of beast-the IRS.

Number Three
Danica is a mommy by day, a tax preparer by evening, and a writer by night. A tax advisor for H&R Block, she seeks to help people keep as much of their hard earned money as possible-legally. As a writer, she understands the tax issues specific to writers. More importantly, she puts a face to the mass of numbers that conflict with the creative brain. She makes her home in Colorado with her husband, four children, dog, and whatever houseguests happen her way. You can find her online at www.danicafavorite.blogspot.com.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lalalalalala. Idolatry.

Okay, God, I get it. Really, I do.

In my last post, I briefly mentioned doubts about my ability to write my nonfiction books. MY ABILITY.

So then, I started reading Mary DeMuth's blog with her thoughts on Idolatry. Which is something that's been on my mind lately, because everything God has been saying to me follows the following format: lalalalalalalalala. Idolatry. Lalalalalalalalala. Idolatry.

Where is my focus in NOT writing these books? Me. Who told me to write these books? Him.

What god am I putting before Him? Me.

Lalalalala. Idolatry.

And yes, for those of you who know the silly questions and challenges I like giving God, last night, He and I did have a discussion about Idolatry, and yes, I did say, "Lord, please reveal to me idols in my life I need to destroy." Does He show me some weird lucky rabbit's foot I forgot about? No. Does He show me some bizarre shrine I need to take down? No. He sticks a big fat mirror in front of my face and says, "Hey, baby, there's your idol."

Now, Josiah, who is my absolute most favoritest person in the Bible (besides God), tore down all the idols. He thoroughly destroyed each and every one of them. How does one destroy the idol of self? The idols of society? The intangible things that we all bow down to in one form or another and take our focus off of God?

Honestly, I don't know. As I often say, especially to my friends who find encouragement in my words, I don't have it all figured out. Obviously. But here is the commitment I am making. This is the year of the destruction of my idols. I don't know what that means or what it looks like. I do know that on Sunday, I am taking a Sabbath day, and making it holy. On that day, I am taking my idols, whatever they may be, and I am burning them.

Please pray for me. Pray that God will reveal to me the idols that need to be destroyed in my life, and the proper way to honor Him in doing so. I also encourage you to think about your own idols. Maybe God isn't leading you to go all Josiah, like I am, but maybe there are things in your life that are idols and shouldn't be. Maybe it's time to let them go.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I did it! I did it!

My first attempt to revise into an inspirational is complete. TMB is now an inspirational, AND I'm no longer short on word count. All in all, I think it's a success. The really crazy thing? I sat there, in IHOP (the pancake place, not The Hop), reading it, cracking up, and really enjoying the story. My basement dweller said it was a good thing she was sitting across from me, otherwise, people would have thought I was nuts.

I've got news for them-I AM nuts. But I love it. And I love this book. It's so weird... all this time I've fought inspirational, it totally felt right to make the transition. Yes, this is the one that everyone who doesn't read inspirational read and said, "Hey, this sounds like an inspirational!" Well, it is an inspirational.

The book is done, and ready for crits. YIKES. I started on the other book, which is another shoulda been inspy. It finalled in a contest, but was ultimately rejected because the editor couldn't identify with the heroine's motivation. No one in the non-inspy world can understand why a woman of her age would CHOOSE to be a sexually inexperienced. Funny how that's a given in inspy-land. DUH.

Why did I fight this for so long? I guess because I really didn't want my audience to already be inspirational. I wanted people who don't understand why a woman would wait for the right man or understand the power of miracles and God's healing to see what an awesome God we have, even if I wasn't overt in saying it. Maybe I wasn't a good enough writer for people to "get it", or maybe I was going about it the wrong way. I don't know. But it felt really good, as I edited this book and added in the overtness of God, to be able to do so.

And, in the words of one of my CPs, who thought I invented a new genre with my semi inspirational books... I have to share this part of the email, because it's so cool... Okay, congratulations on your commitment. I personally feel like this is a GREAT choice for you. I really think that this is what you should be doing and I think you'll really excel at it. And I'm very excited to read the rewrite of the book.

Yeah. Cool stuff. One rewrite down, um, a few more to go. Now the question is, which ones do I rewrite? I have this and another that have never been submitted, plus the one rejection that the problem clearly was that it wasn't overtly inspirational, and then there's the seven other books I've written. A couple I think will probably never be able to be converted, like the terrorist book. I miss that book. I wish I could sell it someday. I never did send it to Berkley, but then again, the editor who wanted it is completely out of the business now, and I still feel like I'm not at a point where I should be straddling genres, which this book clearly would do. It's crazy... I know the work that I need to do on it, and I think it would be an AWESOME book if I finished the edits, but I can't see spending the time on it given that I want my career to be focused elsewhere. ACK!!!

But then, there's the whole "new stuff" bag o' tricks. I still need to finish my Hosea book, but I really want to finish my Hosea study first. I also have ANOTHER terrorist book, but I'm pretty sure it would work in inspirational. Possibly. However, my fear with it is that it's still a bit "far out there" from what I typically write, so I'm not sure if now is the time to try to pull it off. Which leave me with the following incomplete but still viable ideas: How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (with a twist, of course!), The Marriage of Convenience (with a modern twist, of course! It doesn't have a major conflict, though-much fleshing out is needed-have not gone deep with it), and The breast cancer one (but I don't know if the heroine is well motivated enough). Or, I could let my brain go all sorts of hog wild. :)

OR I could start working more on my nonfiction books. I don't know why I'm dragging my feet so much on them. Really, I don't. Except that there's that whole growth thing that I'm still doing. I want to know... seriously. What if I write these books, and then ten years down the road, I look back and realize that I was completely idiotic for thinking those things, but now it's all published into a book that I can't take back?

Then again, for the contest I'm putting two of the books in, I really need to revise my synopsis. Ah, so much work, so little time.

More on Poverty

I thought I'd share what I thought was a very revealing article about the realities of living in poverty, or at least at minimum wage level. In my ignorance of life, given that my husband makes well over this wage, and even at my part time "extra spending money" job, I make almost twice that, I never really considered what it looks like to actually live on that wage. I never thought we could live on what *I* make, and here, people are living on so much less. Given the thoughts I'd had on poverty earlier this week, I go back again to the question of how? How do we significantly impact these people and their situations to make a difference? How do we get people out of poverty?

As the writer of this article points out, simply giving people higher wages isn't necessarily the answer-as it's going to make life a lot harder for the business owners paying the wage. While they think it's fair to pay their employees more, the reality is that they don't have the money to do so. Therefore, they face a choice-raise prices, reduce hours for employees, or go out of business.

Though the article didn't overtly state this (I think), here's what this means for the workers getting the raise: Rather than working 40 hours a week at $6 an hour, they might only get 30 hours a week at $7.25 an hour. OR It means the people they work for will be out of business and they'll have to find a new job. OR (which is probably the most likely scenario) They will work the same hours, make more money, but pay more for other necessities.

In the end, I wonder if anyone will really be ahead?

To read the article, click here .

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Great, Great, Great

And I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible. Really.

So remember back, when I was writing the Hosea book... you know, meth addict, lots of blowing stuff up, good times... God and I had a little discussion. Which consisted of, "You should study Hosea." Yeah, I know. Been there, read it, writing a book, thank you very much, have a nice day, and all that jazz. "No, you should STUDY Hosea." Which means what, exactly? A few days later, I'm peacefully sleeping, snuggled up with my man and my dog. Okay, just the dog. But anyway, God wakes me out of a sound sleep and says, "You should read some commentaries." Uh, okay, does He take me for a brainiac? Apparently. I do some minor commentary research and say, "When I get the money, I'll get a commentary."

Wouldn't you know, I ended up with an Amazon ecert from a dear friend. Of course, I did not connect the dots until one fine night when I really *WAS* snuggling with the man, and I was woken up with "Use your ecert to buy a commentary." Well, I was really irritated at being woken up, so I said, "I'll do it in the morning." And then I forgot. So THEN, friend who sent the ecert emails me a while later and says, "Hey, I see that you didn't spend it yet. Don't forget." I sent her a very nice email saying I'd do it that week, but because I was paranoid about forgetting again, I went ahead and ordered not one, but TWO commentaries, PLUS the Hosea book Francine Rivers wrote, PLUS a fun book for me. I got my fun book a while ago, but the Hosea books were taking forever.

They came today.

I start reading, despite the fact that I desperately need to do some laundry folding. And basically, all of this weird, totally random stuff that has been happening to me spiritually for YEARS started to click. Like mega click. Including the current series my beloved Joyce is teaching with some dude who wrote a book about the Ten Commandments and God has decided that I need to listen. Yes, all of this is great and fabulous and wonderful because I'm deepening my relationship with God.

But He's preparing me to do some really hard things and I don't like doing hard things. And yes, I know that in the end, it'll be really good for me, and it'll totally rock my universe and bring me soooo much closer to Him, and it'll be really awesome.

However, it's like climbing a mountain, which I seldom do, because it's a lot of work, and I'm terribly out of shape. But every now and again, I think, I can go on a hike up this little mountain. So I start to climb. And I get excited because hey, I'm climbing a mountain! It gets hard, though, and I get tired. But I keep climbing. And then, just as I think I'm at the top, I realize, huh, this is only a hill on the way up the mountain. Which, on one hand, is REALLY irritating, because I've already done all this work, and I'm not going to go home without climbing the mountain, so I HAVE to finish climbing the mountain. ICK ICK ICK. And so, after much whining, much work, and much exhaustion, I get to the top of the mountain.

And it is so freaking worth it.

Do me a favor and remind me of that as I'm climbing, because I think this is going to be the highest, biggest mountain that I've ever climbed, and that's a little bit scary. So glad that I own Joshua 1:9. HA! Take that, bad guys on the path.

Yep, starting to get loopy. Sleep deprivation is setting in. I'm trying to stay up until the podcast of my beloved Joyce is done, because I know a few folks who need to hear it, not to mention *I* need it, but iTunes is being horrifically slow tonight. Someone remind me to do it tomorrow.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Systemic Poverty

Poverty is a weird issue for me. I see so many facets to the problem. On one hand, I have the tax clients who ask every year, "what's the most money I can make and still get the earned income credit?" The people who proudly proclaim all the ways as to how they are able to cheat the government and everyone else. And then there's those who work so hard, trying to get ahead, trying to better their situation. Or maybe they don't know what they need to do. But they hate where they're at.

The problem is that society is structured in such a way that the poor are kept poor. For example, the enterprising person who decides they're going to open a savings account. These days, more and more banks are requiring a minimum balance without fees-usually around $300. Sounds great, right? But see, most poor people can't afford that. For them, to even be able to save $25 or $50 is a lot of money. Most banks won't let them do that.

Last year, I opened a savings account. I was pretty excited that I was able to set aside some money for a rainy day. Unfortunately, as happens in his industry, my husband was laid off, and we needed to use some of the money. What the bank didn't tell me was that if I didn't have a certain balance, I'd be charged fees on the account. A few months later, I get my statement, and the money I'd worked hard to save was gone. I closed the account today, and of course, they charged me another fee. Two hundred dollars whittled down to $75 in six months-all because of the fees I was charged.

Some of the training I had to go through at work looked at the cost of being unbanked. The average person who does not have a bank account spends roughly $1200 in check cashing and money order fees each year.

When you're living paycheck to paycheck, neither option is really good-you can't afford the minimum balances or bank fees, and yet it costs money to get to (and spend) the money they've earned. What could these people do with the money that they're wasting on all the expenses associated with being too poor to use their own money?

And then there's this letter we got from the insurance company. Our policy was reviewed, and... based on our credit report, we didn't get their best rates. Which, I don't understand, but apparently that's the shift the insurance industry is making. The insurability of a person is dependent on their credit report. My husband and I, who have a pretty good credit score, don't get the best rates. So we asked why. One of the major issues is lack of credit history.

Let's break down this lack of credit history-ours is based on the fact that we have an account that's less than five years old. Of course a lot of poor people don't have credit. I talk to these people who proudly say that they don't have credit cards or car payments or debt. Guess what? That's a black mark on their credit history. For every little thing that's seemingly wrong on your credit report, that's a ding.

So now, we have people who are trying to improve their situations, but the system is structured in such a way that they are kept poor. They pay higher fees for banking, can't get a decent credit score, pay higher insurance rates, and when they do get credit, say to buy a house or a car, or even a credit card of their own, they're going to pay higher interest rates. Less money they have to spend on basic living, not to mention on improving their situation.

What frustrates me the most is that as much as I want to help people get out of a bad situation, the system is structured in such a way that they can't. Not without a lot of time, and a lot of work. As much as I lament our financial situation, the truth is, we're better off in a lot of ways than a lot of people. And I wonder-just how can I really help, when throwing dollars at the problem isn't enough? How do you fix a system that is structured to keep people poor?

I don't have any answers, just needed to vent. I'm so angry because yes, I work hard for what we have, and it stinks that as hard as we work, we can't get ahead. But you know what? We're fine. I can't imagine, though, what it's like for people who aren't as well off. My heart hurts for those who aren't as fortunate as we. And I don't know what to do about it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bios-whaddya wanna know?

So here I am, with an opportunity to do an article for a friend's blog, as well as I now have certain people twisting my arm to do a workshop for ACFW, which means I need to do a bio for myself. What am I supposed to say?

Hi, I'm an insane mommy raising a horde of terrorists. I like to read, write, and in my spare time, I do taxes. And that's about it.

What do people want to know about me?

I've been perusing bios, and I don't know... I don't have anything cool to say about myself. There's nothing I particularly want to say.

Which leads to my next dilemma-a picture. I don't take the greatest pictures anyway, so having to decide what to use is an exercise in giving myself a heart attack. Plus, I'm afraid of scaring people off.

Finally, I'm dilemmaing over needing a website. I know, I whined about this before, and I didn't do anything with it. But now I'm thinking I really need to do it. More stuff to research.

Like I need all of this right at the start of tax season. *sigh*

So if anyone has any ideas, do share.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What color are your cataracts?

As we all know, I'm trying to make the transition from writing traditional romance to Christian romance. Silly me, I thought I merely needed to add a stronger inspirational element. That would be a big fat no.

I decided to join a critique group of inspirational writers, as none of my other critique partners read inspirational. Here's the interesting thing about my current editing nightmare...

My non inspirational readers think my heroine is more than reasonable in not consulting her husband regarding a major decision, and that he is unreasonable for being angry with her for not consulting him. My inspirational readers-exactly the opposite.

It amazes me to see how much faith colors the way we look at a character or story. It isn't just writing a book about connecting with our faith in a different way, or a character's journey in discovering that faith. I've always operated under the assumption that people are people, regardless of their faith, and that underneath it all, we're still the same. I still believe that to be true.

However, there is a big difference in how we view or perceive others based on that faith. The old adage about rose-colored glasses applies here. Sort of. Except unlike glasses, we can't just take off those views. We have cataracts over our eyes, coloring the way we view the world, based on our faith, what society tells us, and other things, like life experience.

The same actions-viewed by one person as perfectly legitimate, viewed by another as wrong. All because our vision is colored by our faith or lack thereof.

I got an email from someone today that really irritated me. On the surface, it wasn't a bad email. The person didn't say anything mean or do anything bad. But it was gruff, abrupt, and didn't need to be sent. Had it been me in her shoes, I wouldn't have done anything. But see, I usually think from the position of, "is it worth it?" I consider the other person's feelings, and spend time to think about ways I can word things in a kind way. Do I think this person is a nasty, mean human being? Absolutely not. In her mind, she was trying to accomplish a goal, without thinking, "how will I come across?"

Different colored cataracts.

I look at the conflicts in the world, and I realize that they're no different. Where one sees a particular value, another group sees it as subverting a value they hold very dear. As we, as Christians, try to convey our values to others, we're not just combatting all of the obvious messes, but we're also dealing with cataracts.

I absolutely see value in respecting my husband. But how many women out there have been raised in the societal view that respecting one's husband somehow denigrates our rights as women? On the other extreme, though, there are people who view women as having absolutely no value at all.

My aim in writing, and in life, is that I hope to be stripped of our cataracts, that Christ would perform surgery on our eyes, hearts, and minds so that we can see ourselves, and each other, as He does. I look at this book, and the others I'm writing, and I have to think about my audience. What color are the cataracts in their eyes? I can write an incredible book, with incredible characters, but unless I'm writing something that they can either understand through their cataracts, or that will pull the cataracts off of their eyes, it won't matter.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Research, Crackheads and Tech Support

Yep, it was my first day of the tax season.

Things were going smoothly, and I really thought that this year, I was going to start off with a bang. They sure did.

And then, a couple walked in with deficiency letters from the state. My partner in crime says to me, "Can you handle it? The state letters lately have been mistakes and all you have to do is call the state and they'll fix it." Um, yeah, sure. After sorting through the mess and getting another one of our senior preparers in on it, we figured out the problem. One that would require me to get into this other program. Sadly, my password, which works for the other program, didn't work. Huh. Does this mean I don't have to work?

Anyway, before I could look into the problem, another coworker asks if I can take care of a client. Sure, no problem. After that nightmare letter, there couldn't be much worse this early in the tax season. So, I got a crackhead. Almost literally. Actually, he was a pothead, completely and utterly stoned, and he reeked of it. I might mention that the smell of pot makes me really sick. Fortunately, I did not hurl as I explained to said client that based on the information he provided me, I couldn't be of much help to him. I sent him scampering off to procure the necessary documents.

And then, I began to investigate my lack of access on the computer program, and ended up having to call tech support. Tech support was, of course, stymied. The guy said to me, "I'm going to have to escalate this. Do you know what that means." Um, yes. Sadly, I do. Because for whatever reason, I've become the district "call tech support" girl. If anyone in the district has a tech question, they call me. So I end up calling tech support for everything. I'm sure they all think of me as "that annoying girl". I went through the whole process of giving all the info they need, and the guy couldn't believe I had all the numbers memorized. I'm convinced that I spent half of my working hours last year on the phone with tech support, so really, it shouldn't be surprising. The kicker, though, was when I said goodbye to the guy, he said, "thank you for calling our company's tech support." Would calling the competitor get me better answers and faster service? I think, towards the end of the season, when I can tell who they are by their voices, I'm going to ask them that. Just for grins and giggles. I'll have to save it for the one with a good sense of humor. :)

So, I'm back in the saddle again... anyone want to wager as to how long it takes for me to get a proposal? Thus far, I've had some lovely guys want me to marry them.
1. Scary creepy guy who doesn't speak English.
2. Rich gay guy
3. ?????

Sadly for them, I already have my very own Prince Charming, so they're out of luck. The fun has begun, so let the good times roll!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thoughts on Integrity

I admit, I'm in roach mode, so you'll have to forgive me if I sound a bit angry. But I was thinking about integrity today, and one of the things that really hit me was the question of payoff.

See, I have this discussion with a few of my friends, who are dealing with integrity issues. You know the situation. You are existing in the same realm, situation, whatever as someone else who is behaving without integrity. Doing everything they can to put themselves first, not worrying about who they step on in the process. It is so hard, because you're doing everything you can to behave with integrity, and to do it right, and you feel like you're light years behind.

I keep telling them (and myself) that eventually, it'll pay off. Somehow, they'll learn their lesson. My one friend keeps arguing with me, saying that in the case of the person she's dealing with, it'll never happen. She doesn't think that this person will ever realize how badly she's acting or even care. So I keep telling her that God will deal with that person and to just let God handle it.

But what if that doesn't happen in this lifetime? What about all the people who live their lives of sin and debauchery and God knows what else and still manage to achieve a level of success and even think they're happy? They are rewarded for their sin! How fair is that?

However, I've yet to find that verse in the Bible that promises our lives will be fair. Maybe some of those stinky roaches will, in fact, prosper. But see, there is another age to come. One where the Lord rules, and He will stand over us with His justice prevailing. Will we be separated from the roaches? I don't know. I used to say with confidence that YES! Jesus will stomp their nasty little exoskeletons with his bare feet and say, "I don't know you! Get lost!" Except, as I've been finding in this journey of figuring out just who *I* am in Christ, I have to wonder just how much roach blood is in me. And I guess, selfish roach that I am, I'd like to think that there's still room in heaven for the slightly roachy-like me.

But what constitutes too big of a roach for heaven, and good enough to get in? Amos 5:4, which has what I've decided is the best summary of the Bible in one verse, says, "Seek Me and live." Four words. They get to the heart of what it really means to be living in Christ.

It's not, "seek the destruction of the roaches." Nor is it "seek what's good and makes Danica happy" (Although wouldn't that be the coolest thing ever?) It's seek ME, as in GOD. As in Christ.

My beloved Joyce talked about something tonight,and I have to admit, I wasn't paying much attention. I was being a roach and yelling obscenities at the computer because of the roaches that were irritating me tonight. However, I did jot down a few notes, because it does make me feel all good and churchy and holy and stuff. As I started writing this blog, I glanced at my notes, and I had written this: "Deut 30:19? blessings and curses-choose life." Well, this intrigued me, because I was at that point threatening to kill people and I think yelling at the computer about what crackheads they were (I wish I were kidding. I always give you honesty, because I never want anyone to think I'm perfect or that I think I'm perfect).

Read with me: Deuteronomy 30:19 "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live."

If you read the whole chapter, in fact I recommend reading the whole book, because it's so good! (I love Deuteronomy. Maybe when I'm done with Hosea, I'll study it in depth. I am SUCH a nerd). Anyway, the theme of this chapter... it's seek Me and live. Follow God and you will live.

Which is interesting, because in my opinion, the whole of Deuteronomy is about this one verse: 6:5 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give today are to be upon your hearts." According to Jesus, it's the greatest commandment of all. Seek Him and you will live. But not just seek Him-seek Him with everything you are.

The trouble with worrying about integrity and roaches is that ultimately, it doesn't matter what they do or don't do. It doesn't matter how God deals with them. Yes, it is irritating to watch roaches win the rat race. But there is a much bigger prize out there-eternity in paradise. If we spend all of our time watching and worrying about the roaches, all of our focus isn't on God.

Philippians 3:13-14 say "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." That's our prize in running the race-being able to hang out up in heaven with Jesus and have a good ole time. Personally, I'm hoping for a little Q&A Session. Well, okay, a really big one. I have a list. ;)

The thing is, if we don't keep his focus on Him, we aren't going to get there. That's what all these verses have been saying. And if any of you have ever tried driving while looking at something other than the road, you'll know what a disasterous situation it can be. When we look at the roaches, we're driving ourselves off the highway to the promised land, and into the ditch of roachland. Maybe the ditch has some pretty flowers in it, especially if the highway is all barren desert. But what's the destination look like? I don't care how many pretty flowers are on the way, if God's not there in the end, what does it matter?

And so, to the friends who are frustrated by the roaches, I say this: (GET ONLINE AND READ MY BLOG SO I DON'T HAVE TO CALL YOU... yeah, like they'll ever see this.) Okay, seriously now... The roaches may never have their comeuppance. They may never realize that they're roaches. And they might always achieve more success than you. But don't be a roach. Keep following God's path. Maybe you won't taste the same sweetness on the journey, but the end will be sweeter than you can ever imagine.

(P.S. My apologies to the crackhead psychopathic moronic idiot roaches I screamed at while working/reading email/checking blogs/chatting/watching TV/thinking/and doing whatever else I do sitting at my computer. The good news is, you don't know who you are. But I take back all the mean, negative things I sent your way and I pray that God will bless you despite all the curses I screamed over your heads. I also pray that you will stop being roaches. Of course, you don't read my blog either. So none of this matters except to remind myself that I shouldn't be such a roach.)

Procrastination is a thief

I've been trying to get to bed at midnight. However, it seems like there's so much to do!! I was watching my beloved Joyce Meyer tonight, and she said some things that God really nailed me on.

She said that you don't want to be the same person at the end of this year as you were at the beginning. Not that you're a bad person, but that you want to be better and better. Wow. See, that's what I'm always striving for-to be better and better. But the way she put it, it just hit me. I hope that this year, we all strive to be better people than who we are. I know that's my big goal.

More improtantly, though, she said that procrastination is a thief. We all wait for the perfect time to do something. I know I do. You know, like when the kiddos are sleeping, or I have more time, or I have more money, or I have... whatever. We want it to be comfortable. But change is never comfortable, and that's not really the point-our comfort. If it were, we'd just be content staying the same. Oh wait, most of us are.

How are we going to get the blessings we seek if we just sit on our thumbs saying, "God, I know my life sucks, so just wave your magic wand and fix it, will ya?" And God, because He loves us, says, "Sure, just do this one thing..." But then we, in our infinite stupidity say, "Sure, I'll do it when..."

Um, NO!

Unless God says to wait, we need to get off our thumb sucking tushies and DO IT. When God says, "GO," we need to go. Now.

When Joyce talked about procrastination being a thief, it made me realize how much my, "I'll do it whens..." have cost me. I wonder how much it has cost others I could have helped. Sometimes I wonder if God isn't sitting up there, going, "D'OH!" at each one of us who have millions of great reasons why we aren't doing it, because He's saying, "When I said, DO IT, I gave you everything you needed." Does He just rip His hair out because He knows our thinking, and yet He sees the reality of our situation. That we don't need all the things we think we need, and if we'd just rely on Him, we'd be just fine.

It makes me sick to realize that as much as I can blame my present situation on all sorts of external circumstances, the truth is, I ignored Him so many times, or served up my excuses on a silver platter lined with chocolate, that I really have no one to blame but myself.

I'm going to be a better me this year. No, this isn't some dumb resolution, this is another step in my ongoing quest to be the woman God created me to be. I hope that others will take this challenge and just do it. Stop letting stupid excuses get you down, but to just say, "YES!" when God comes knocking and DO IT.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Positive things

Happy New Year! Again!

Today, we had our annual family New Year's lunch. It was nice, a few things I'm still processing, but overall, a good time. I actually got dressed up, and *gasp* put on makeup. That Man thought I looked hot. ;)

I talked a little about my writing with my FIL and co, and one of the things that hit me was how much I feel like last year, it was all about the waiting/obedience game. This year, I feel like the message is..... GO!!! And then, I got an email from a friend about the idea of living in community, which got me really going, and thinking about the doors God is starting to open up for me in the coming year.

Changes are coming... and I finally feel like I can start taking the steps I need to move in the right direction. So I am.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Blessings of Friendship

I'm telling you, I'm not doing those stupid year end things.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't at least wax poetic about one of the blessings I've realized over the past year. I was My Space hopping, and giving the standard "Happy New Year" greeting, which I hate doing. I always think it's so impersonal to do a standard greeting, but I never know what to say. Hence my reason behind not sending out Christmas cards. I want to, but again, why send some dumb generic card? Then I realized that there's probably a lot of folks who don't know I care about them, because I'm too icked out by generic stuff, and unable to think of anything cool, so I end up not doing anything. That's even more lame, isn't it?

So, here's my generic, but very heartfelt greeting going out to those I love. This year, I've had some amazing new people come into my life, reconnected with some old friends, and had some of the same folk who've been by my side for years stay there. I'm pretty blessed. In fact, so much so that I don't have the ability to count them all in this lifetime.

I started thinking about this earlier today, because I got a phone call from someone who I thought of as a more casual acquaintance-I never thought she thought of me as a friend, if that makes sense. Don't get me wrong, I've always liked her and wanted to be her friend, I just never figured she thought that way towards me. Yeah, I know, I have issues. She said that she had been missing me lately and wanted to make sure everything was okay. She made a point of saying that she didn't want to lose touch with me. It was humbling, because I never thought much in terms of other people needing to hear from me or to know I was doing okay, even though I wonder how they are all the time.

Which, when you think about it, makes absolutely no sense. I think I've spent so much of my life on the wrong end of people's boots that I don't think I recognize the blessings I've been given from my friends. I don't recognize my friends. So, thank you. I'm a blind idiot, and I'm really blessed to know that you put up with me, even though I haven't been really good about recognizing it.

Happy New Year! And if you do end up getting some generic greeting from me, know that there is heartfelt feeling behind it. And if you don't, there's also some heartfelt feeling there, too. I'm just trying to find a way of expressing it.