Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And you thought. . .

Just when you thought that Catholic church activities couldn't get any more bizarre.....

Reverend Elvis "All Shook Up" In Sex Scandal -- A Catholic priest in New York City was suspended after he apparently used his confessional booth to pick up women. The action came after Judith Rodriguez-Lytwyn filed a $25 million lawsuit against Our Lady of the Snows in Glen Oaks, New York. She met Reverend Elvis Elano while going through a divorce when she entered his confessional and he told her, "Your presence struck me like a thunderbolt," according to her lawyer, Andrew Laufer. "For lack of a better word, he was hitting on her," Laufer said, adding that the two began dating and eventually engaged in sex. The woman ended the affair when Elano sent her an e-mail indicating he had a sexually transmitted disease he may have gotten from another woman.

I'm just sayin,

--Margo

The Future of Farm Town

If you are an active member of Facebook, you are more than likely familiar with, on an intimate basis, a game called Farm Town. Farm Town is a virtual farm. You plow your land, plant your crops and reap the rewards (coins) of selling those crops at harvest time. You even have the ability to "prostitute" yourself in the village market by offering to harvest other farmers' crops. You can sell your farm for larger farms, purchase silos, waterwells, logs, barrels, pigs, chickens, roosters, goats....you get the picture. You beg your "farming" friends to send you gifts of animals and trees so that you will not have to make these expensive purchases yourself. After all, you are saving your coins so that you can buy that farming mansion and pond you've been lusting after on the neighboring farm.

However, the future of Farm Town may be compromised. My son called earlier to let me know Facebook had a new virtual farm game called Farm Ville. He's at level 3. Will the popularity of Farm Ville cause Farm Town to become a Ghost Town? Will that spur a trend of popular "ghost" games. Or, based on the following story, does this mean that players from Farm Town and players from Farm Ville will engage in illicit "farming" affairs? Will the farmer take a new wife with each new virtual "farm" game created? Only the future will tell.

__________________________

Amy Taylor, 28, filed for divorce after she caught her husband cheating in Second Life, an online community where players create avatars and transport themselves into virtual worlds. "I caught him cuddling a woman on the sofa in the game," Taylor told England's South West News Service. Taylor married Dave Pollard, 40, after the pair met in an online chat room in 2003. She said the first sign that their marriage was in trouble occurred in 2007, when she caught her husband's avatar having cyber-sex with a virtual prostitute.People become emotionally invested in their virtual identities, according to Ellen Helsper, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, who has studied the impact of the internet on relationships. "For a while, there was this impression that as long as it's online, it doesn't matter," she told the Associated Press. "But research has shown it's not a separate world." She added that infidelity was "just as painful, whether it's electronic or physical."

___________________________

I'm just sayin' I gotta go harvest my crops,

--Margo

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson, MD, was recommended to me by a co-worker in an effort to help understand and deal with circumstances in my life. As I read this book, I was amazed to find bits and pieces of myself in the characters of this book – Hem, Haw, Sniff and Scurry. Hem and Haw are two "little people". Sniff and Scurry are two mice. The four of them live in a maze and each day venture out to find "cheese". "Cheese" represents something different to each character, but it's never a person. The book tells how each of these 4 characters search for "cheese" and how they react and adapt to the changes they encounter.

After reading this book, I analyzed myself to determine which character I mostly resembled…I am Hem. I'm in my comfort zone and even though I know there is nothing left of the "cheese" supply, I don't want to leave. I've started questioning why I haven’t changed the things I am capable of changing. Am I afraid of finding new "cheese"? Am I afraid to let go of the old "cheese"? Do I feel the effort to find new "cheese" is more than I want to put forth and I will be disappointed with the results? Or, and most importantly, is it because I know it requires a change that I’m not ready to make…..a change in ME? I guess the bottom line is that I am comfortable with the stale "cheese" because I know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to use the stale "cheese" to make life work. But as reality usually goes, it has hit me in the face and forced me to realize that my comfort zone is no longer comfortable….someone has moved my "cheese". Instead of accepting that the "cheese" has moved and venturing out on a different path to find new "cheese", I've stayed in the uncomfortable comfort zone hoping the new "cheese" will come to me. My current "cheese" area will never be the same again and honestly, do I want it to be the same? Part of me says yes, because it's what I know. Another part yearns for new "cheese" and knows that something better is out there, IF I will allow myself to look for it.

Even though this book is not a Christian book (and is used largely in the corporate world), it has some of the same messages that I've found in the Bible, especially the following:

Psalms 55:4 - My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. (My "cheese" has moved – life, as I know it, is changing.)

Psalms 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me". (This requires a change in ME – to overcome my fearful feelings and search for new "cheese".)

Now, don't get me wrong, this is not the first time my "cheese" has been moved. However, I feel like I've always adapted well to the previous "cheese" moving, but this time, it just feels different. Every day I travel back to the empty "cheese" bin and wait for something different to happen. What I've determined is that I do not handle drastic changes well because they are out of my control. When your "cheese" moves, you have no control over what happens. I've also determined that if I want to find new "cheese", I have to make the necessary changes in me.

I'm just sayin',

--Margo

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Fruit of Peace

-- a five-letter word that makes a profound statement...or does it? What is peace? Peace is a state of tranquility. What does it sound like? Quiet. What does it feel like? Harmony in relationships and freedom from oppressing thoughts and emotions. We all say we would like “some peace and quiet”, NATO leaders speak of “world peace”, and of course, we all want “inner peace”. In the old west, Indians raised their right hand, palm outward, as a sign of peace towards strangers. They also smoked “peace” pipes.

In the 60s and 70s (especially during the Vietnam War), people would flash two fingers as a sign of peace. President Nixon adopted this sign as part of his “I am not a crook” campaign. People wore PEACE symbols on chains around their necks. Anti-war demonstrators carried signs touting “make peace, not war”. But how can we have true peace without God? Philippians 4:7 speaks of the peace of God which transcends all understanding. Romans 5:1 says we have peace with God. 1 Peter 3:11 states we should seek and pursue peace. Proverbs 17:1 indicates eating little food with peace is better than eating a feast in a house full of strife.

I'm just sayin', state your piece on PEACE,

--Margo



Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. John 14:27

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Sacrifice

Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Dizzy Dean and Eddie Collins. What do all of these men have in common? They all hold outstanding baseball records and are all members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I’m sure you must be asking yourself, “Who is Eddie Collins?”

If you are female and live with or have ever lived with a male of any age, you know SOMETHING about baseball — outside of the fact that it’s this country’s national pastime! And if you know ANYTHING about baseball, you know about a sacrifice. A sacrifice is when the batter hits the ball in such a manner that he will be called “out” in order to advance the runner to the next base. The player has to sacrifice himself as an out to help the team score.

Eddie Collins was just such a person. He holds a record that has yet to be broken — 512 sacrifice hits. Eddie knew that even though he was an excellent batter, he could be more helpful to his team by sacrificing himself. He loved his teammates and the game of baseball so much that he took his eyes off himself and personal accomplishments and looked toward the goal — home plate and winning runs. He made the ultimate sacrifice — he sacrificed himself in the place of the runner.

Have you ever sacrificed yourself for the good of “the team?” Have you ever given up your personal goals in order to help someone else achieve theirs? Jesus did. He made the ultimate sacrifice. He died on a cross so that we could live. He forfeited his life for ours — he bore our sins so that we could have eternal life with our Heavenly Father. He gave Himself so that we could make it to home plate and score the winning run — heaven. You might think this is a stretch, a 7th inning stretch to be exact, but it’s not. God asks us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him (Romans 12:1). We are also reminded to do good and share with others, for such sacrifices, God is pleased (Hebrews 13:16). The next time you watch a baseball game, think about the sacrifice play— Jesus dying on the cross in your place.

I'm just sayin',

--Margo

******************************
Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, at the old ball game.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When Faith Struggles

As some of you may know, we have an upcoming visit to Johns Hopkins (June 24-27) for further evaluation and testing regarding Jared's syndrome. As all of you know, our last visit was not a positive visit. Jared was diagnosed with Loeys-Dietz Syndrome and we were also made aware of an aortic aneurysm, which required immediate surgery.

I do not have a good feeling about this visit. Neither does Jared. I have not made him aware of my feelings about the visit because I don't want to create further angst for him. We will not only be seeing Dr. Dietz for updates on how the syndrome has progressed, but will also be seeing a spine specialist and an endocrinologist who specializes in bone disease. Jared's health has been deteriorating over the past few months and he has experienced several episodes where he passes out.

I would like to ask that you remember us in your prayers -- for strength, peace and acceptance of whatever this visit may bring. I'm drowning in helplessness because there is nothing I can do to fix this problem. As a friend stated yesterday, the absolute worst feeling in the world is the total helplessness one feels when they cannot help their child, but can only stand by and watch the events unfold. I cried off and on all day yesterday and it looks like it is going to be that way again today. Thank you to those who talked with me in between my crying jags yesterday. I appreciate your love, encouragement and support. I love it when God uses others to deliver His message and especially when He throws in that little extra thump on the head Himself (you know, like being hit over the head with a newspaper) -- my e-mail devotion today is entitled "When Faith Struggles".

"Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:3-4 (NIV)

God is faithful.
God always works in our best interests.
God's ways are beyond our understanding.

I'm one of those people who has to have an answer to my "why" in order for things to make sense to me....to be logical. However, I'm learning that I have to accept the fact that there is not always going to be a logical answer and my "why" will be left unanswered more times than not.

Edward, thank you for your encouragement and support. I know it's alot to take in. Mother, sometimes we just have to face what is and ask for the strength to accept it. Christie, it's okay to be real [and fake :-)], as God knows your heart. He knows what many do not -- "our smiles do not bespeak the pain within our hearts". Gordon, I'm counting on your mom's "direct line". Elaine, do what you do best in your love and ministry -- spread the word!

I'm just sayin',

--Margo

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Friend is Closer Than a Brother

What would you do for your friends? For your "best" friend? John 15:13 says "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Would you lay down your life for your friend?

My devotional story today talked about a naval officer in World War II. He said he was on a troopship carrying over 10,000 men to Europe. Early one morning as he and another officer were watching the sunrise and noting how beautiful it was, they spotted an enemy torpedo headed straight for their ship. They sounded the warning but knew it would be too late to move their ship out of the path of the torpedo. About that same time, he and the other officer noted a destroyer headed towards them -- right into the path of the torpedo. The young skipper of that vessel placed his ship in the path of the torpedo to prevent it from hitting the troopship. His destroyer sank within 10 minutes. The young skipper knew that by placing his ship in the path of the torpedo to save the troopship, he would be killed. He made the ultimate sacrifice. Why? Because he and the naval officer on board the troopship were best friends. He knew his friend was on that troopship and he gave his life for his best friend!

In our society, it's difficult for us to sacrifice our time for each other, much less our life. Not one of us is promised tomorrow so maybe we should be making the most of today. It's something to think about.

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

I'm just sayin',

--Margo

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Cost of a Vice

Vices. We all have them. We all pay a price. However, some vices cost more than others. I’m going to pick on cigarette smokers because that is the vice that got my attention in a very drastic way today.

I’m not a smoker so I have not paid attention to the price of a pack of cigarettes in a very long time. I just know it’s expensive. While picking up some junk food (I do realize I’m plucking at the speck in my neighbor’s eye while toting a plank in my own) from the convenience store in our lobby, a man came up behind me and requested a pack of cigarettes…Marlboro Menthol Smooth Ultra Light in a box. I glanced up as the clerk reached for the pack of smokes and gasped when I saw the price -- $5.05 per pack! I almost dropped my M&Ms, Salt & Vinegar chips and Reese's Cups. That is outrageous for a pack of cigarettes. Then, tack on 10% sales tax courtesy of the City of Birmingham and you have a grand total of $5.56 for a package of cancer a la carte! I paid for my calories and quickly left the store. Upon returning to my desk (and my handy calculator), I did the math. This is how the numbers add up.

One pack of cigarettes = $5.56
Smoking 1 pack per day 7 days a week = $38.92 per week
Multiply $38.92 by 52 weeks = $2,023.84

$2,023.84 is a very nice vacation for one with lots of spending money OR 3 ½ new laptop computers OR a new 16.2 megapixel digital camera.

However, the average smoker smokes at least two packs per day (stats per Benita Roberts who has lived with smokers her entire life – until now).

Two packs of cigarettes per day = $11.12
Times 7 days a week = $77.84
Multiply $77.84 by 52 weeks = $4,047.68

$4,047.68 is a European vacation for one with lots of spending money, etc., etc.

WOW!!

As I sit here finishing off the Salt & Vinegar chips (accompanied by my M&Ms – you always have something salty and sweet together), I’m just flabbergasted at how much it costs to smoke. Not to mention that nasty little cancer thing that usually tags along with a pack of cigarettes.

I’m just askin’, what’s your vice and how much does it cost?

--Margo

Is it Permanent

Recently, during a discussion with my husband, he made the statement that he did not believe in "permanency", stating that nothing was permanent. I have been mulling over this statement for a while and find I have to disagree with him. While there are many things that change as often as my hair color, there are things in this life that are permanent; it's just that our society has an "everything is disposable" mentality. Permanence, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I believe in permanence.

To me, marriage should be permanent while on this earth. You take vows before God. I married my husband with a "til death do us part" attitude...I may kill him, but we will be married until such time I choose to do so. When I decided to get my tattoos, I got them with the same attitude "til death do us part". Well actually, they won't part; they will decay with my flesh. Employment is permanent; it may not always be at the same company, but I will be permanently employed -- somewhere. Debt is permanent as I'm always going to owe the IRS something; there is no way around it, except dying. Unfortunately, our government is working on a way to tax death, so I will eventually owe them from beyond the grave. Love is permanent. While not all relationships last forever, we will always LOVE someone. Being a parent is permanent – nothing will ever erase the fact that I gave painstaking birth to two sons. I will never let them forget it! Last, but not least, salvation is permanent. God doesn't rescind His gift of grace and mercy, even when I'm at my most undeserving. I'm thankful for His permanence.

I'm just sayin',

--Margo