Tuesday, August 30, 2011

About Prayer...the Sequel

Today is a very important anniversary in my life.

One year ago today, I began my prayer journey.

If you've recently joined this wild ride with me, here's my original post about it. http://shelikesskirts.blogspot.com/2011/03/about-prayer.html

I know this may sound terrible, but I'm relieved to have this year over.  I met my goal; I prayed consistently every single day for an entire year.  The pressure is off and now I can relax and let somebody else pray for a change.


Ah....no.  Wrong.  Very, very wrong.

I had some preconceived ideas about what being a prayer warrior would be like.  They were all way off the mark.  Like, way.

Prayer continues to be hard work for me.  At the beginning, I hoped it would get easier, but it never has.  I've decided that's because prayer isn't about me at all.  It's about God and about others...and for some reason when something isn't all about me, it's harder.  I hope I'm not the only person in the world with this flaw...but there it is.

I can be really selfish.

Prayer is also hard work because it can be very emotional.  As hard as I try, I can rarely keep from getting teary while I pray.  There always seems to be one request every day that just gets to me.  

I've learned to put my eye makeup on each morning after I've finished praying.

I used to think consistent prayer warriors must experience a special connection with God...some ethereal peace that prayer-challenged people like me don't have.  Maybe there are those that do, but I don't.  I am seldom drawn to my knees in the morning because I can hardly wait to talk to God.  I don't often get warm fuzzies from prayer.  Prayer for me is a choice, it is an act of my will that I have to make happen.   I'm accountable to no one...except God.  And as incredulous as it sounds, I can pretty easily tune him out.  The best way for me not to is to make sure I'm reading the Bible every day.

That's something else I've done every day for an entire year.  I've learned prayer and scripture reading go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Like chips and salsa.  Like milk and cookies.

You just can't have one without the other.  Having both every single day has changed my life.

How?  Good question.

First, I think less of myself and more of others.  God has grown a new level of compassion in my heart.

I don't know how to explain it.  I care more.  And I don't have to think about it more, it just happens.  And I really, really like it.

Second, I love God more.  I've asked him to help me fall more in love with Jesus Christ, and he is answering that prayer.  It didn't come over night, he had to root out some wrong thinking in my life first.  But it's happening.  I want more of Jesus, and I'm not just saying that because Jesus is always the right answer.  I really long for deeper knowledge of my Savior.

Lord, give me more of Jesus.

You may want to know if God has answered my prayers.  I can honestly say he absolutely has.

He said yes to some.  My mother's health has improved tremendously. My son got a great job.

He said no to others.  My friend's dear son-in-law died.  An important relationship has not been restored.

To many, many other prayers he has said wait.  And keep praying.

I used to wonder if it was okay to ask God for the same thing over and over again,  but for me, that's what being a prayer warrior is.  And the more I pray, even though it's hard, the more I'm convinced that God really can do more than we can ever ask or imagine.  That faith didn't come naturally from my sad, sinful little heart. It came as a gift from Almighty God.

The one who invites me into his throne room every day.

The one who rewards me with far more than my simple attempt at devotion will ever deserve.

Come on, join me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Being Okay

Gate E6 is down two flights of stairs.  It kind of feels like its own little airport.

You can't get away from people at gate E6.  There's no Starbucks to disappear in.  It's just a bunch of chairs and a door that leads outside to the plane.

I sat across from them; a dad and his two kids.  He wore a weight lifting t-shirt and an arrogant expression.

I didn't like him.

His son was probably 12. His father spoke to him like he should know everything about air travel.  The boy looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders...he looked scared.  They were traveling alone to Houston, which, I surmised, was home, and where their mother lived.

The little girl was about eight.  She was crying and clinging to her dad.  Every now and then he would reach down and wipe away the tears that were falling on his arm, like they were a bug.  Occasionally he would pat her awkwardly and tell her she would be okay.

I was tempted to argue with him.

I was in first grade, so I was probably six.  My parents divorced when I was five and my dad had moved to San Francisco.  Compared to my home in L.A., San Francisco was cold.  When my brother and I flew up for a weekend visit, my mom sent me with my bright orange fake fur coat.

Do you ever wonder if you remember actual events, or if what you remember came from looking at pictures?

Besides that coat, what I remember is a horrible, panicky feeling.  My six year old brain was convinced my mom would not be safe without me.  I was terrified that something would happen to her and my baby sister while I was away.

I remember crying.   A lot.  I also remember trying really hard not to cry because I didn't want my dad to feel bad. But I couldn't help it.

I didn't see much of my dad while I was growing up.  We moved to San Diego and he moved to L.A., but we only saw him on an occasional weekend.  He always took us to the zoo and to a Mexican restaurant where he drank margaritas.

Eventually our relationship became a Christmas card and sometimes a birthday card.

He died this year on New Year's day.  Though I had recently tried to be more communicative, I hadn't seen him in years.

Didn't matter.  His death crushed me.

Like God, I hate divorce, but it is prevalent in my extended family. With one exception, everyone in my extended family has been divorced.  I don't know all of the reasons, and I can't judge.  But I had hoped that family legacy would end with me.  It didn't and my kids have had to go through some of the same emotions I did as a child.  At times, that haunts me.

But I know the family legacy will end with my children.  Their marriages are based on a foundation that will never move.


Shortly before we boarded our flight, that little girl pushed her way onto her dad's lap.  She gripped his neck and cried buckets.

He was embarrassed, the big jerk.  I had to give up my seat and stand as far away as I could to keep from smacking him.  Or at least giving him a really dirty look.

I know normal people don't get married with the goal of getting divorced.  And I suppose countless parents have patted their children as they cry in airports and told them they will be okay.

But, I have a question.

Compared to what?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Airport

Airports are fascinating places; there is so much to entertain.   Truthfully, a traveler might experience sensory overload before ever stepping foot on a plane. 

“Huh?” you ask. 

‘Tis true.

For example….

At this moment, Carrie Underwood is singing about smashing out her boyfriend’s taillights with a Louisville Slugger over the intercom. 

I was just at McDonald’s where I heard several Asian employees speaking an Asian language really, really fast. 

The little Hispanic girl working the counter looked completely lost.

I stood in line behind two twenty-somethings that smelled like they hadn’t had a shower since they were twelve. 

I’ll never understand why people don’t shower before they get on a plane. I mean, seriously.  It’s a given that people will smell you in planes and elevators. 

Somebody should make a public service TV commercial to enlighten the masses.

I’m in the B concourse, never been here before.  I think they collected the oldest seats in the state to furnish this place.  The seat next to me has a huge hole in it; it’s swallowed my power cord.  And the seat I’m in?  I’m feeling no padding at all.

Though not fan of these seats, I kind of like the freaky wooden birds scattered about this concourse.  They’re huge and funky. 

And Alaskan.

I’ve saved the best for last.  There is SO much to see. 

I saw a young teenage girl wearing the tightest jeans in the history of the world.  I wondered how her mother ever let her out of the house, and then I saw her mother.  Now I understand.

I saw a nice looking young man in shorts, a nice jacket, a visor and nice sandals.  He was somewhat unremarkable until I noticed the bright purple nail polish he’s wearing on his toes.

I’ve seen Amish folks, Muslim folks, and Russian folks.  I’m sitting across from a woman with very long, very grey braids, and a woman with pink and purple hair.

There are lots of average folks too.

One lady I saw was really interesting.  She looked like she got up early to clean, worked all day and then drove to Anchorage. She had her friend cut and color her hair (she's trying to hide the grey from her kids), had a gluten free energy bar for dinner, then a McDonald’s ice cream cone.  She looks like she really needs a nap.

Wait…I didn’t see her in the terminal. 

I saw her in the mirror.  

She definitely overloaded my senses.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Last week I had lunch with a couple of my girlfriends.

I do that a lot.  I like my girlfriends and I like lunch, so it's a win/win situation.

Before I grabbed the last chip out of the basket and rushed back to the office, one of my friends asked how she could pray for me.  We had discussed the ins and outs of our lives while we ate, so I listed a couple of things for her to pray for.  Okay, I listed a lot of things.  She looked me in the eye, grinned and said, "Okay.  I'll just ask God to give you everything you want."


That made me think.  And I'm still at it.

I wonder what my life would be like if God gave me everything I've ever asked him for.

I wonder who I would be.

Our pastor preached on Psalm 139 last Sunday.  I know that psalm well; I memorized it with my 5th grade Sunday school students many years ago.  I often think about how God knows every single thing about me.  He knows my thoughts, he knows what I'm going to say, he knows why I'm going to say it.  He knows my motivations.  He knows where my heart hurts and why.  He knows my greatest joys and why.

He knows much more about me than I do.

Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't seem to answer some of my prayer requests.  They make sense to me...right now.  I've prayed for things in the past that made sense...back then.  Today I can see why God said no, why he left certain doors shut.

And I'm grateful.  Really, really grateful.

I suspect my friend didn't listen to me.  I suspect she prayed, instead, that God would give me the wisdom to see he knows the difference between what I want and what's best for me.

I'll have to ask her.

Because out of all the things I listed, that's the prayer he answered.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chat Room

"skirt-girl has exited the room."

She didn't just exit...she ran.

I'd never been in a chat room before, but about a month ago I found myself in one.  It was an over fifties chat room for Christian singles.  

Man, that sounds desperate.  I'm not, I was just curious.  Seemed like an innocent enough venue.

I'm not sure what I was hoping for...meaningful conversation?  Didn't happen. They were all giggling, using lots of smiley face icons and abbreviations I couldn't figure out. One guy was spouting out cheesy pick-up lines.  I took a deep breath, then made a wise crack about how ridiculous he sounded.  He used the "whisper" feature (I guess that means he was talking only to me) and said that I'm funny.

If he ever whispers to me again, he'll see how funny I can be.  

(I hope that sounded threatening.)

Besides being a little creepy, the experience left me somewhat incredulous.  It felt like I had entered a time warp and ended up back in junior high, except everybody now has grey hair and can spell better.

Complexions are probably much better, too.

I wasn't too crazy about junior high the first time around, I'm not going to volunteer to take a second spin.

I've been reading through Proverbs and I ran across one the other day that says gray hair is the splendor of the old because with it comes experience and wisdom.

Obviously, Solomon never spent time in an over fifties chat room.

And the next time I get curious?  

I'll hang out with Solomon instead.  At least he's wise enough to act his age.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wild Things

One of girls who works in my building found a baby vole on the ground the other day.  It had been abandoned and she was looking for someone to raise it.  She said it was really cute.

In case you're wondering what a baby vole looks like, here's a picture.


There is nothing cute about a baby vole.  There is nothing cute about a baby rodent.  Period.

I don't have a problem with bugs...I can kill a spider with my fist, no problem.  I can deal with birds, and even snakes.  But rodents?

They slay me.

During an especially stressful time at work, a kind friend bought me a little Zen garden to place on my desk.  I liked making designs in the sand with the tiny rake...it worked.  It was relaxing. 

I wonder how much work I got done.

One morning I discovered more than sand in my Zen garden.  There was evidence of a rodent.

I got really stressed really fast.

We couldn't quite figure out where the intruder came from, though we suspected there was a hole in the wall behind a heavy filing cabinet.  We set a few traps in my office, but caught nothing.  We started noticing signs of it in other parts of our building; it seemed to have a nightly route scoped out.  Since it was frequenting the tops of desks, we surmised it must be pretty big.  Like, huge.

Double ugh.

Another coworker and I became obsessed with catching this monster.  First we tried humane traps, but it would eat the cheese or peanut butter and evade capture.  Finally, we set every type of trap we could find all over the office, including a sticky one behind my phone.

There was a long weekend.

I sat down at my desk on Monday morning and reached for my phone.  I'm pretty sure I was through dialing before I noticed the huge dead mouse stuck in the sticky trap behind it.  Even the memory makes me shudder. 

There was significant evidence to suggest it had been there most of the weekend...if you know what I mean.  I ran to the building next door to hide until my coworker arrived.

I wasn't touching that thing.

He finally came to my rescue, and just as I was showing him where the mouse was, it moved.

I screamed like a girl. 

He was very brave and took it outside.  What I didn't know is that he put it right next to my car door and when I left for lunch, it was waiting for me.

You've heard of the fight or flight response, right?  It is possible to do both at one time.

My evil coworker deserved what he got.

I guess it took awhile for the scratches and claw marks to heal.

I hear he likes his new job.