my earning potential is ZERO

So, I got a text from a friend this past weekend.  It said…..

“please call me A.S.A.P.”

my first thought was…

“oh sh*t, who died?”

(just being real here.  I try not to cuss in front of my child, but let’s be honest, inside my head…yup, I did use those words and it would be dishonest to tell you otherwise.)

So I clicked on her number.  This friend, let’s call her SB, is someone I don’t talk to often.  Like once every 5 or 10 YEARS.  But we have mutual friends that she would get news about faster than me if something bad had happened.  So I sat there, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, listening to the dial tone and the ringing with my heart pounding.

She answered, and was so cheerful I knew at once that nothing like *that* had happened.  Now I’m curious, what on earth was so important that she needed to reach out to me on a Saturday morning with that urgent message?  I wasn’t upset, just puzzled.

Turns out she was worried about something she had seen on my Facebook feed.  Something that was innocent on my end, but might lead people to believe that I endorse or approve of a particular person who has strong connections to Satanists, Nihilists and other agents of chaos.

Let’s stop and think about that for a minute.

Think of the courage and compassion it took to see someone in error and literally call them on it.

SB didn’t judge me.  She skipped over that and went straight to the heart of the matter – concern for her fellow Christians.  She wasn’t concerned about me.  She knows me well enough to know that I’m not personally heading down a negative path, but she was concerned for my witness and for people who might be confused by seeing links to such things on the Facebook feed of a professing Christian.

“But be careful with your freedom. 
Your freedom may cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin. 
I Corinthians 8:9″

Funny how Paul is so relevant, even today.  He was talking about the right to eat anything, but that could just as easily apply to my right to read (or mentally consume) anything.  It doesn’t give me the right to put potentially dangerous meat out there for others to consume.

I explained to SB the reason that person was even on my friends list.  A person from my childhood that I care deeply for, pray for and treasure.  We discussed ways to keep my friendship with this person intact and still guard against spreading or appearing to endorse beliefs and practices so counter to my own.

Message spoken. Message received.

It was a wide ranging conversation.  We discussed raising of our kids, our fitness agendas (or lack of them in my case) and our past friends and connections.  We even discussed the fact that she was nervous about calling me.  Which I find hysterical. She said she felt like she was calling someone famous !!!!!  On the flip side, I still get a HUGE kick out of the fact that this person who I hero worshiped when I was an underclassmen and she was a ultra-cool upper-classman is actually a fan of my writing !  So it was kind of a mutual admiration society there for a minute, which was fun.

Deirdre, get to the point.

okay. okay.

As the conversation was starting to wrap up we wandered back to the original topic of friends and acquaintances who we need to keep as friends and show them love, while still not approving of their choices.  I then made the comment that I wished my brother Stephen had made better choices and that I wished I could believe that he was in heaven.  He was such a devout Christian as a kid.  He would witness to literally anyone.  He really loved Jesus.  His faith was so strong.  God was always his first thought.  Prayer was his first answer to anything.  But then he hit the teenage years and started questioning everything.  He headed down some dark paths and he never looked back.

So when he died a couple of years ago, I started struggling with a question that troubles many people…….

“can you lose your salvation?”

I wanted so much for Stephen to be safely in heaven, that I convinced myself that I wanted it too much.  It was comfortable to think that he was in heaven, so therefore it couldn’t possibly be true.  So often in our Christian walk, Truth is difficult.  So if I believed something simple and comfortable, it had to be wrong.  Get it?  See the trap I was falling into?

Then SB said something that rocked my world.

“IF you could lose your salvation,
that would imply you could have earned it to begin with.
So,  NO.
You cannot lose your salvation”

That pulled me up short.

Most of us are pretty clear on the straightforward reading of Ephesians 2: 8 – 10

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and
this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not by works so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance as our way of life.…
Ephesians 2: 8-10”

We can’t earn salvation.  Got it.  No intellectual problems with that.

Sometimes I still try to earn it though.  I beat myself up for my sins.  Current ones (see cussing, above) and past mistakes (divorce, lies, greed, gluttony the list goes on and on and it’s not something I should share anyway).  Anyway, I fall prey All. The. Time. to the LIE that I have to be good enough to earn God’s favor.

But Guess what?

I CAN’T DO IT

I have absolutely ZERO earning potential when it comes to saving my soul.

But turning this verse on it’s head, essentially doing the math and realizing that if I can’t EARN salvation, then I can’t UN-EARN it either is something I had never really processed.

Time for School. Let’s go back to Algebra for a second here.  Math.  Yes I’m quoting math.  Never thought THAT would happen…

Properties of Zero

0 added or subtracted to anything equals itself

0 multiplied by anything equals 0

0 divided by anything equals 0

We cannot divide by 0

 

So take “a” as GRACE or Salvation.

God has declared that I can literally not add one single thing to my salvation.  That means I am the ZERO in this equation.

ZERO literally does NOTHING to the equation. Zero can’t add anything to the value.  Zero can’t remove anything from the value. Zero can’t multiply or divide the initial value.

GRACE is completely UNCHANGED by anything the ZERO (me) can attempt to do to it.

just dwell on that for a minute.

 

not to be trite, but

MIND BLOWN.

So now I know.

My brother Stephen is in heaven.  I know this to be true, because I know my salvation is true.  I can’t earn it.  And Stephen couldn’t UN-EARN it. No matter how hard he tried.

wow.

you have no idea what a blessing that surety is for me.

So thank you SB.  Thank you for reading my stuff.  Thank you for pestering me into writing again.  Thank you for seeing God in at least some of what I write.  and Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and reaching out to me to deliver TWO messages from God this past weekend. I am humbled and honored to be cared for by someone like you.

and I’m ever so glad to have ZERO earning potential.

 

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don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.

 

A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness

 

How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE

so

DON’T WAIT

Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.

 

 

 

plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.

 

 

are we a team?

before yesterday I would have said that Martin and I make a great parenting team. (not that we are great parents, we won’t know that result for years to come)

but yesterday I found out that we have left a word out of that assessment, and it makes a significant difference…

TAG

We are great TAG – Team parents.

We have perfected the art of passing Ginny back and forth between us like a finely honed machine of efficiency.  While one is being an independent adult, the other is being a parent.  What we seem to have lost recently is the art, and make no mistake it IS an ART, of working together as a GROUP.  With both of us being parents TOGETHER.

Just as an example, yesterday Martin did something that he would never have done had he been alone with Ginny.  Becasue I was there, he abandoned our mutual pile of personal belongings and went off to some other portion of the venue to a change machine to get chage for Ginny to play a game. 

How is this wrong?

it isn’t…..in and of itself.

He had Ginny with him.  She was safe.

I however was fuming.

I had no idea where they were.

I could not go looking for them because I was now in charge ( by default) of a whole pile of stuff that couldn’t be left alone in a public venue.

I knew they had the ultimate goal of going to play some game that Ginny had wanted to show me.  But becasue they didn’t tell me about the need for change I thought they had headed off to the game and must be waiting for me. So I figured out a way to drape all the stuff all over my hands, elbows and shoulders and lumbered through the venue looking for them….and fuming.

I nearly imploded when I finally found them. 

It is such a simple thing, and yet two people who actually love each other have, temporarily, gotten out of the habit of working together as an actual team.

Thank goodness Martin had the sense and the maturity to text me an apology before I went too far off the deep end.  He gave me a way back and I took it gratefuly.

Why am I telling you this?  to air our dirty laundry?  no.  Becasue I just wanted to take a minute to remind myself and everyone who still reads my blog that you have to practice the skills involved in real teamwork. 

We got better at it as the day progressed.

By the end of the day we were back to working as a group.  We even managed to have our heads on straight enough to take advantage of a trio of police personel who sat down at an adjacent table during our lunch.  We showed Ginny the badges and how to recognize, and hopefully trust, a real cop.  By the way, I am so thankful that they were a very mixed bunch.  One black, two white and one female.  Gotta love it when your girl child gets to see the full range of human skin colors and sexes treated as equals.  Martin even let us pick up their tab annoymously.  Which was a really great thing for Ginny to see happen.

I guess my secondary point is that marriage is chock full of moments like that.  I over reacted to a realtively minor situation and my husband offered me a way back. 

No matter what has happened…..take that offer folks.  Or be the one big enough to make the offer.  But whatever you do, don’t be small enough to cling to a hatchet that someone else is trying to get you to put down. 

Relationships are precious.  Join something bigger than just you.  Dont’ just play TAG, be on a TEAM and be proud of it.

behind every skater….

the long over-due thank you post from my 2012/13 skating season and first trip to the U.S. Figure Skating Adult Nationals

thank you post 7

Behind every skater,

of any level,  

stands a coach….who DIDN’T kill me on my worst days.

C30_2472

In the bleachers at every event clap the friends who stand by me…

even when I am down and don’t display my best side.

 60414_10200898409929314_1103771959_n
On the drive home, hands clenched on the steering wheel drive the husbands, brothers, parents and friends being tortured by tears they can’t comfort or endless re-hashings of all the tiniest details of the things that went right (or wrong) with the program THIS time.

IMG_8871
And at home waits a weary grandmother,

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proud of her daughter and a four year old who can’t understand why mommy didn’t bring home a shiny medal this time because she always thinks I’m a winner.

thank you post 3

I didn’t win…at nationals.  I placed 6th in one event and 5th in the other.  But still, I am grateful.

Grateful for the chance to even go to Nationals. After a year filled with injuries, coaching changes, sickness and a myriad of set-backs, honestly even qualifying was a victory worth celebrating but I was too busy setting my sights on the next goal.

Now almost a month later, I am celebrating and finally ready to send out the thank you post.

To Martin, for endless hours playing with Ginny and keeping things running and for backrubs that kept me on my feet when I just wanted to lay down and never move again.

To my parents, for endless hours playing with Ginny and keeping things running (grin)

To Julie for understanding that sometimes we can all get crabby. And for helping me find (and visit) every single Starbucks on the way home from Elllenton, FL to Atlanta, GA.  Julie, I need to give you a special thank you for putting up with my singing for the last two hours of that drive back from Florida. I know it’s not my greatest talent, but it DOES keep me awake at the wheel….

Oh, and to Martin again for all the various cuts of music we went through. You are a genius honey. Pure and simple.

To the folks at A.C. Chiropractic Spinal & Wellness center for being willing to venture into new territory to keep me functioning.

To Annette for “interpreting Davin” for us all.

To my neighbors Liza & Bryon and the kids, for just being there, being normal and delightful.  I know I couldn’t have done this without you.

To my previous coaches: Dawn Malone, Chuck Miller, Tim Zinc and Deena Bryant – thanks for helping put down a foundation that I will build on for the rest of my life.

To Sarah Bolocan, thank you for being willing to try just about anything I asked when it comes to new dress ideas.

To Kylie for just being yourself. Watching you on the ice is very peaceful.

To all the skating moms at the Duluth Ice Forum – thanks for encouraging all us adult skaters. It means a lot that you guys actually like us adult skaters and don’t see us as comedic or pitiful.

To Dr. John Xeroegeanes and the staff at Emory Sports Medicine for putting me back together…do three knee surgeries qualify me for a volume discount?

To Stephanie for being fun on the ice. Sometimes I need to be reminded to just play and have fun.

To my hair stylist Angelia Leong as we journeyed through finally finding a haircut that works for my life style and looks good on the ice.

thank you post 2

To Rob, as a guy afloat in a sea of female drama we must be an endless source of entertainment for you. Thanks for being such a great representative for our club and for Adult skating in general.

To PJ, Lou, Ben & Meredith Scafidi. I don’t know that I can ever possibly put into words all that your family has done for me. Starting with taking us into your hearts in Greenville and keeping us there. I will never forget your kids playing cards with Martin so I could get the hotel room packed up. Or you FIERCELY defending the chair that Martin’s foot was propped up on at the restaurant.

thankyou post 5

To Davin….just thank you. Thank you for all the times you didn’t smack me across the rink. You know you wanted to.

thank you post 4

And thank you for pouring yourself heart and soul into your own skating. Watching you skate is a joy and being able to count myself as one of your students is a privilege.

Yes, I am proud.  Proud of going to Nationals.  Proud of skating two beautiful programs that were the best of my season.  Proud of everything I accomplished in the 2012/13 season……and ready to go out and do it all again.   

thankyou post 1

 look out 2013/14….here we come!

blessings in this photo

This picture makes me so happy.  I keep looking and looking and looking at it.  The blessings in my life are abundant.  There are the obvious ones; Happy, healthy child, happy healthy husband. 

And the not quite so obvious ones. 

 Martin is standing. Upright. After his broken leg in April life was rough for a while. With the help of family and neighbors we got through it. 

 Church name tag.  Not visible, but I know it is there.  He works for God.  That makes me very deeply happy.

 Martin’s Smile.  Yes, he still smiles like that when he sees me.  and I smile right back. Wouldn’t you?

 Martin has lost some weight.  We both need to lose more. But we are way healthier than we were a year ago. Progress.

The picture is taken on our church grounds.  I grew up being very comfortable at our church becasue my mother worked there.  It was like a home to me.  It makes me happy that Ginny is growing up in a similar situation.

 Ginny’s smile.  I love her smile in this picture. It is not a “picture perfect” expression…but it shows how much she adores her papa. 

 The pink rose petal in Ginny’s hand is special to me too.  I don’t like pink.  I’ve tried to steer Ginny towards purples and blues.  She looks stunning in denim blue because of her blue eyes.  But she has a mind of her own, and in color preferences she is starting to choose pink.  I enjoy watching her figure out what she likes for herself, especially when her choices run counter to mine in little things like color preferences.  She is gaining independence.

 I love how tightly Martin is holding her, and how enthusiastic Ginny is about being in her papa’s arms. Security.  Trustworthy.

The grey in Martin’s beard makes me smile, because he didn’t have any when we started dating.  I have watched it happen. That represents years and mileage together.  Longevity. 

 Ginny’s hair blowing in the wind makes me happy.  She chose that haircut and it is great on her.  I was always into long hair on little girls, but she rocks the short hair look and is completely little girlie and feminine while having a hassle-free haircut.  Win-win!

 Martin takes time to play.  We had things to do and places to be, but he got out of the car and came back to play with us as Ginny examined roses and I snapped pictures.  Then he hoisted her up and headed for the car.  I said “wait, I want a picture of that” and instead of being annoyed with me for yet another delay, he turned and beamed at me while Ginny clung to his head. That is one patient, fun, loving, kind, generous man.

Thank you Lord.  You have been so so so very good to me.

let blessings abound

In this season when “blessings” are on everyone’s minds thought I’d share a few thoughts I’ve had recently on the subject.  Just to throw my hat into the ring, so to speak.

A co-worker of mine has come up with a fabulous idea for her next birthday party

She is getting a big group together, coordinating them through facebook, to go serve in a local soup kitchen together.  I think they will be going out afterwards too.

Isn’t that a cool idea? 

I asked Trenadia what prompted her to come up with this idea.  What was the trigger?  This was her answer;

“Well I just decided that I wanted to promote giving back. So I’m just inviting friends out to  volunteer at the Atlanta Food Bank.   Because it’s about who I am.  On a personal note; over the past two years, I have had to use a few of the services as well as people who have giving hearts, to maintain everyday life…not only from family or people I know, but strangers as well. Giving back helps us remember that ‘WE ARE ALL ONE’.”

My life changed in one day, from one of comfort and privilege to the exact opposite.  I have  always volunteered but during this time, I volunteered a lot and it helped me get through my hard times.When you help others, you truly help yourself.”

Bravo Trenadia.  And I quite agree, we are all blessed in order to BE a blessing.  If your blessing today is hands that can lift, sort and pass food out to those in need, do it.  If your blessing today is some extra cash in your grocery budget, drop off some food at your local food pantry.  If your blessing for today is just a smile that you can share, then share it.

And if your blessing is that you always have too many friends who want to come to your birthday party, consider organizing a joyful giving party. 

Let the blessings abound!