Better Not Pout

December 27, 2013 |  by  |  God, Relationships  |  , ,  |  No Comments  |  Share

I’d been slaving away in the kitchen for hours. The holidays had been weighing on me heavily and to top it all off, my mother had been in the hospital for five days with cellulitis on her face. Finally, Christmas day had arrived and I had three events to attend. I was looking forward to all three, especially having my family cram into my medium-sized apartment for dinner.

Everyone arrived at my house promptly at 5:30 and I was still in the throes of preparing dinner: Pioneer Woman Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes with Grated Gruyere, and Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. As soon as my nephew walked in he asked, “Where are my presents Uncle Eddo?” I’d been so busy I hadn’t even had time to wrap them. I quickly asked my mom, who is a wizard when it comes to wrapping, to wrap the gifts in my room while I continued to cook. Dinner was almost ready and my mom came out with the wrapped presents. We decided to pause for a moment and unwrap the gifts. It was a quick exchange since we only buy for the kids under 18 in our family. Aiden unwrapped his gift and exclaimed with delight, “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!” He was so delighted with his gift which was a toy that allowed you to melt crayons into different shapes. After he calmed down he asked me, “Can I open it and play with it?” His mom immediately cut in and said, “You can open it, but we can’t melt the crayons here at Uncle Eddo’s house.” I confirmed this response and expected my nephew to just accept this decision with delight, instead he started to pout. At first I thought it would just be a mini pout session, but I was wrong.

I continued to cook and I noticed that my nephew was laying on the ground by the front door with his toy on his face. This was Pout Phase 1 which included a little bit of moaning. His mom asked him what was wrong and he said he wanted to play with his toy. She told him “No, you have to wait.” As soon as his mom walked away he looked at me and repeatedly said, “Please, Please, Please, Please” to the point of annoyance, this was Pout Phase 2. I told him no and I sort of wished I hadn’t gotten him a gift at all. How could he be such a brat when he had so much? His birthday is the day before mine, December 16, and he turned eight. We had a big part for him at Chuck E. Cheese’s. His grandparents got him an iPhone 5s and he got so many toys that most kids, even rich ones, would have burned with envy.

When we finally got around to eating dinner my nephew wouldn’t eat. This was Pout Phase 3. Finally, his hunger gave in and my mom got him a plate of mashed potatoes, but he wanted to sit on the couch to eat. We don’t eat on the furniture in my house so I told him if he wanted to eat he had to join us at the table. After dinner my nephew continued to pout by laying on the couch – Pout Phase 4. My mom tried to console him, but he wasn’t having any of it.

Two days prior to Christmas day I got to watch my nephew while my sister was at work and I bought him a Jenga game that he wanted. We played and had the best time. I couldn’t believe this was the same kid. How could he be so ungrateful?

When everyone left and the house was quiet I received a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. How many times have I been given a gift by God, but he asked me to wait to use it? How many times have I thrown a tantrum when God didn’t give me what I wanted when I wanted it?

I talked to my mom the next day and she said, “Well, he was upset because his sister got to open her toy and play with it right away…” Kapow! I felt another punch of shame and guilt once again because I do the exact same thing. I compare myself to others and say, “Well, look at them, they have ________.” For me this usually comes in the form of a wife. I’d love to be married and at 38 I can’t help but feel a little impatient that I’m having to save myself for marriage while others who are much younger than me are getting married left and right. I want what I want, when I want it. I think it is unfair even though I’ve been given SO MUCH. I pout often when I don’t get my way and in my frustration I rebel. Why is it that submitting to God’s will and his best for us is so hard?

After I burned hotly with shame for my behavior I prayed to God for forgiveness and mercy. In just one instance of bad behavior I wanted to retract my gift to my nephew, but how many times have I acted the same way toward God? Furthermore, my nephew’s pouting did not make me want to give him his gifts faster, but just the opposite, it made me not want to give him any gifts at all. Ouch. I’m surprised God even has anything to do with me. I’d put me on a permanent timeout.

2013 has been a year of painful lessons. I’m thankful God disciplines those he loves, but I’m hopefully learning from my mistakes because my backside is feeling awfully raw and chafed these days!

Hopefully you had a Merry Christmas and during this season God taught you something while you were spending time with your family.

See As God Sees

November 17, 2013 |  by  |  Culture, God  |  ,  |  No Comments  |  Share

“I asked that God would help me to see that man as He sees him if I pass him again. ” – Sara Barnes, China Missionary

This was a line that caught my attention in a recent journal entry from Sara. While walking down the street she passed a man whose face was badly burned, so badly burned that it was painful to look at. She hurried past him and later felt crushed that she had not done more.

How often have we all done the same thing? In an effort to move past something uncomfortable, we rush past, push it aside, repress it. It’s a normal HUMAN reaction. It is not natural for us to be unselfish. As Christians we are constantly being molded into the image of Christ. We are given trials and opportunities to shed little pieces of our humanity and to become something altogether supernatural. Granted, we will never become anything more than human while we are constrained by our flesh, but while we are here on earth, we get the opportunity to show Christ to others through our actions.

I, like Sara, want to do my best to pause when I have the opportunity to be Christ someone and I want to see that person, no matter how ugly, the way Christ sees them – as his beautiful creation. Let me see them through grace and love, the love that can only come from something that is not human. Love that can only come from God.

Thanks Sara for sharing your story, it touched me and I am sure it will change others too.

Here is a little more of Sara’s story:

As we were leaving the subway station, we passed a man that I remember from when Senator  and I lived in that neighborhood 7 years ago.  His face is so badly burned that it’s hard for me to describe it to you.  Hard to describe firstly because most of it is burned beyond recognition, but secondly because it is just so hard to look him that I can’t recall a complete picture of him mentally.  And today, my maternal hyper-protective instincts kicked in and I hurried the kids past, hoping they wouldn’t notice him.

I’m not sure if I thought I was protecting the kids from an image that might be too much for their young minds or protecting him from what their possible reactions would be, but after we were out of the station, one thing was clear.  Whether I had been with the kids or alone, the urge to hurry past and look away would have been just as strong.

And then I remembered the bottle cap mural, and the song, and my heart felt crushed.  I wondered if I were alone if I could sit down face to face and have what little conversation my current language skills will allow me too. (There is no danger or risk involved, these beggars sit in broad daylight amongst crowds of wealthy foreigners.)  I know that 7 years ago I didn’t.  But I’ve learned a lot about our God in those 7 years, I know better than ever that God doesn’t see as I see.  I asked that God would help me to see that man as He sees him if I pass him again.

Our current language level prohibits us from having in depth, spontaneous conversations the way we’d like to, but I am fully capable of offering someone a snack and a smile.  I even know how to ask them if they believe in Jesus and if they say no, I know how to tell them that whether or not you believe, there certainly is a God who loves you.

But in order to do any of that, we must be willing to resist the urge to hurry past.  Pray that we would have courage and boldness for such moments.  In all reality, the guests at the Renewal Center are typically quite easy to love.  They are clean and well dressed and happy to be there.  But there are still many in our midst just as desperately in need of hope, even if they have no interest in our showers.

How to ask for free stuff or discounts

September 16, 2013 |  by  |  I'm Just Sayin, Relationships  |  , ,  |  No Comments  |  Share

As a business owner I am often hit up for free services. I run a DJ business as well as a graphic and web design business. In my business I DJ weddings mostly, but also the occasional barbecue or school dance, as well as a corporate event or karaoke party. In my graphic and web business I do brochures, business cards, fliers, customized stationery and much more. Because of the broad range of services that I provide I normally get asked at least once a week to do something for free or at a discount. What is important to note is that both of these businesses are ran entirely by one person – me. I run both websites for each business, handle the invoices and the marketing, and all of the other tasks that come along with running a business. So when someone asks me to provide services at a discount or for free I have to consider it carefully.

Often I feel obligated to help out friends, family members or even my existing clientele and I don’t know how to communicate to them how asking for free services impacts my business. Imagine if you were working your regular 40 hour per week job and your boss said, “Hey Bob, do you mind working at a discounted hourly rate this week?” Or even better, “Hey Bob, can you work this week for free?” Now if you are salary you may do that to some extent, but that is something you agreed to when you took the salaried position. As a self-employed individual working for free comes at a higher price.

So how do you ask for free stuff or discounts without hurting a relationship? My suggestion is to be very clear and up front. Let the person you are requesting services or free stuff from that you are on a tight budget and you are willing to pay for services rendered. If possible, say something like, “Hey, Jenni and I are getting married, but, we only have $500 to cover all of the food, what do you normally charge to feed $300 people.” This is a nice way of asking for a price quote, but also letting the person know that you realize their services are valuable.

If you don’t have money, then maybe you can offer to help them in trade. If they provide you with a discount then you can help promote their business through social media or doing some type of work for them.

If you are a non-profit organization and you ask for services, then be sure to let the people in the community who is supporting you by placing their company logo on your website or on the brochure and materials that are part of the event.

In my business I don’t mind helping out individuals who are truly in need, but I don’t appreciate people expecting a “hook up” just because they know me, or, they know someone who knows me. I once gave free hosting to a friend who paid me to do her website. Later I received a call from an acquaintance of hers and she said, “Hey, I hear you do free hosting!” Nope. I don’t.

Also, when you get a free or discounted service, don’t tell other people about it. I DJ’d a wedding for a friend for a very low rate because I knew that they were tight on funds. A few months later I get a call from a lady and when I quoted her my standard rate she said, “Well, you did so and so’s wedding for X number of dollars!” I appreciated the referral from my friend, but I had to let her know that my normal rate was substantially higher than what I had charged her and I thought she was aware of that.

Lastly, when you do get something for free and a people normally tip for that service, then you should still give a tip if the service you received was excellent. If you get a gift card for a free massage you are still expected to tip the masseuse.

There are a number of kind and giving business owners out there. I love to be able to pay it forward and help out when I can, but I don’t like to be used or taken advantage of either. Make sure that you say thanks and give proper credit to anyone that helps you out in life, not just in your business dealings.

 

Brutal Love

July 27, 2013 |  by  |  I'm Just Sayin  |  No Comments  |  Share

The words were sharp and cruel and they cut to the core. Like a knife slicing through a ripe tomato, like a lions claw tearing through the supple flesh of a gazelle. Too confident. Too trusting. I fell.

When you finally tear down the fortress you have built around your heart you are left exposed. Naked. Vulnerable. The cold dark place that was your soul, the one you kept hidden, has finally felt the warmth of sunshine. Joy has taken root. Love blossoms. It’s beautiful and frightening. Everything is magical, and then comes cruelty like a machete. Chop. Chop. Chop. In seconds there is so much devastation.  The agony makes you sick to your stomach. The person you trusted, the one you thought would never hurt you, hurt you the most.

But time heals the wounds. The love comes back, sometimes even stronger. But oh, the pain… in the moment it is crushing and unbearable.

This is what the devil wants. He wants us to think that relationships and love and life can come without a cost. Real friendships come with a hefty price tag. They cost our time, they require unselfishness, relationships force us to remove our self from the equation. Unconditional love has to be just that – without conditions, including the inevitable thrust of the dagger. But at the end of the day we are stronger. This constant parrying, the back and forth, the struggle, it is what forges us. We are refined by the fire of trials.

When people ask me why I’m still single the reasons are many, but this is probably the biggest one. Too often I’ve been hurt deeply by the people I care about the most. I thought that if they really loved me, then they would never hurt me, but the opposite is normally true. It’s impossible to be really hurt by someone you don’t love.

Satan has a plan and one of his best tools is to keep us isolated. To make us fear people. To fear that we are unloveable or that we don’t deserve to be loved. He wants us to always be on guard. Alone. That is when we are most vulnerable.

ButeEven God, the creator of the world, hurt when he had to send his Son to die on the cross for our sins. How much pain he must feel when he watches us moment by moment untrusting, lacking in faith, slicing away at him, bludgeoning him with our doubt and unbelief. But yet, he continues to love. What brutal love.

 

 

 

 

 

Hilton Head, South Carolina

July 10, 2013 |  by  |  I'm Just Sayin  |   |  No Comments  |  Share

I’ve been in Hilton Head for a week. Today is my last day. I used to journal all the time here on Posted Note and because of Facebook I got out of the habit, but I’d like to start up again if only so that I can look back and see where I was at in my life at that time and hopefully, years down the road, I can see that I have made progress from that point.

I’m currently self-employed. This summer I’ve already been to Big Cedar Lodge in Lampe, Mo and Kansas City, MO. In Missouri we visited a museum, but now I can’t remember the name of it – another reason to keep a journal.

I knew that this trip to the beach was coming with a full 6 months warning beforehand. I tried really hard to lose a few pounds before I got to the beach, but I only managed to stay exactly the same weight plus or minus a few pounds. I only put this information in here because one day I hope to look back on this as an educational milestone in my life. In order to get from point A to point B, you have to start moving and along the way you learn things – I hope that I learn how to eat in a way that makes me feel like I’m not being cheated and keeps me healthy.

This year I’ve lived with the most pain I’ve ever had to live with. My feet hurt pretty much all of the time now because of heel spurs. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get into a good stretching routine to curb this problem, but I just get busy and forget. In the morning the pain reminds me, brutally. It feels as if little gnomes have been digging with pick axes in my heels during the night and each step on the way to the bathroom is grueling. But then throughout the day the pain diminishes and I forget until the next morning. Heel and joint pain are a problem because it keeps me from being able to be as active as I’d like to be. Being active would allow me to enjoy the foods I want and still stay fit, but, since I can’t be as active as I’d like to be then I need to learn to be content with less. But I’m rarely content with less. I’m all about MORE!

Vacations are always bittersweet for me. I have a blast, but they are exhausting. Being self-employed makes you feel like you should always be working or else you are losing money. I don’t mind the tether, it’s much better than the alternative, but it takes time to adjust. I’m still learning the ropes of being self-employed. I’m still learning time management.

This trip to Hilton Head has taught me some things…

I have great friends who care for me deeply. The Bruner’s always go above and beyond for me and that is humbling. Few people have friends that are this awesome and I don’t just have the Bruner’s but God has blessed me with so many individuals that love me deeply. So much so that I’m ashamed whenever I feel the slightest bit unhappy with my life – I have nothing to be unhappy about. My life is rich with everything I could desire and God has me right where he wants me.

I’ve also learned that I love the beach, but just because I’m brown doesn’t mean that I don’t need to wear sunblock. My head got a sunburn on the top and when you have no hair you can get skin cancer on the top of your head and so I want to be mindful of that.

The beach is fun, but it would be more fun with a group of people who wanted to play Ultimate Frisbee or something non-stop. I find that I’m selfish and I don’t want to play catch with the kids because I get tired of chasing down the frisbee. It’s hard being a single adult that is used to playing games with adults. Having to play at a kid level takes some adjusting.

Spending time with the people I care about is probably the most important thing in my life. Location doesn’t really matter. Yes, it is nice to be at a beautiful resort, but when you are with fun people you can be anywhere and still have fun. This trip has been fun because of the great people I’m with.

That’s all for today.