Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When I Go Missing

  I am not here. Maybe I was here just a second ago. Maybe the little green circle beside my name is still on, but I'm not answering your messages. Maybe that's the case for a lot of folks. They were here one moment and now they're gone. We're all gone. Every Christian you knew has just disappeared.
  Perhaps you're reading this for the first time and you're thinking, 'Okay, Amy has turned into one of those crazy, Bible-thumping fundies, always preaching hell-fire and damnation...' This is not for you.
  This is for those of you reading it a second time because you remembered somewhere that someone had answers about what's going on. Someone knows why all these people have disappeared. The government and the media are telling you that some perfectly natural phenomenon occured and made us all vanish. Or they may be telling you that we're all in hiding trying to scare you into belief. Right. Millions of people are playing an enormous game of hide-and-seek. Don't listen to it. The truth is, and you already may know, we have been raptured. Jesus Christ has returned and called away those who have trusted Him as their Lord and Savior to live with Him in eternity. You have been left behind.
  I say that, not to thumb my nose at you, but as a simple statement of truth. I cannot reach you where I am, but I can leave this message for you. There is still hope. There are some of my faith who believe that those left behind are without hope of salvation. I do not. The simple fact that God has laid it on my heart to write this tells me that those left behind still have an opportunity to be saved. I pray that you will do so. You may not know what that even means, so I'll tell you. Being saved is simply giving your heart and life to God. You ADMIT to Him that you are a sinner. You BELIEVE in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died to pay the price for your sins. You CONFESS openly that He is the Lord of your life. A. B. C. It's that simple.
  Maybe you're reading this and wondering why you, as a church member, or religious person, or good individual, were not taken with us. The answer is simple: You must have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Being a good person, or a church member, or even a religious person is not enough to save you. The Bible says you must be born again. Speaking of the Bible, if you can find one, you may want to start reading it. Don't head straight for Revelation. Read the gospels. Read what God has done for you through His Son, Jesus. If you can't find a Bible, come search my home. I think it may be a good idea for me to keep some extras hidden for you, just in case.
  Please believe me when I say that I wrote this out of love for you and concern for your soul. Where I am now, I'm no longer concerned with the world, but as I wrote this I prayed for you, the reader. Take hold of the Hope in God now. Terrible times are coming, but you can still escape the ultimate punishment of Hell. God loves you and He doesn't want you to go to Hell. That's why He told me to write this. He wants to give you one last chance. Take it! Pray this prayer:

Dear Lord,
I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive of my sins. I place my faith in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for loving me and saving me. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

  If you have prayed this prayer know that Heaven rejoices. I rejoice too, and I'll be waiting to greet you when you get here!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Kinda Wish I Were in a Chicken Suit

Today is a momentous occasion; I am hosting my very first solo yard sale.  I'm a little nervous since I've never had a yard sale on my own, but if I remember everything I've been taught about the art of the yard sale, I should do just fine.  After all, I learned from the best. 

My grandmother was the Yard Sale Queen, the Garage Sale Guru, the Ultimate Authority on tag sales, rummage sales, whatever you choose to call them.  She had the biggest and best yard sales, and practically made her living selling things on her front lawn.  The woman was a born woman.  She knew how to advertise, promote, display, price, and haggle.  Her advertisements and promotions usually involved me dressing in some kind of costume, yelling at passing cars.  She once dressed me in a bunny costume and instructed me to yell, "Hop on down to a yard sale!" at everyone going by.  Another time I was dressed as a clown and my cry was something along the lines of, "Stop clowning around and come to a yard sale!"  As humiliating as that was, I was always paid for my trouble.  Maybe I should have used my wages to pay for some therapy.

My grandmother could sell anything.  She just had a knack for making people believe that they really couldn't live without a set of mismatched spoons, or a non-working toaster, or a pair of pants that were way too small.  She once sold a sweater of mine that had an A (for Amy) embroidered on it by telling a lady the A stood for Alabama.  Never mind that the sweater was pink. 

The best part of her sales strategy had to be her stories.  She came up with wild tales to accompany her assortment of items to make them irresistible to customers.  She would say things like, "This little china cup was my great-great-grandmother's.  It was her only possession when she came to America from the Old Country."  Of course, the reality was something more like she paid 50 cents for the cup at a Goodwill store and brought it home and stuck a $5 price tag on it.  People consistently fell for it and bought her stuff, and she would laugh all the way to her little cash bag!

Of course, she met her share of tough customers.  She usually proved tougher, though.  If someone thought an item was marked too high and tried to get her to come down on the price, she would look them in the eye and say, "It don't eat a thing at my house."  In other words, I'm not that attached to it, and I don't care what you think, that's my price. 

She also had plenty of superstitions and rituals for her yard sales.  The biggest and most important one was that you did not count your money until the yard sale was over.  If you did, you would not make another dime.  My mother said she did it once, and didn't have another customer the entire day.  It became a firm rule, no matter how tempting it was to count that stack of cash, it must NOT be done until the end of the sale day.

My grandmother passed away several years ago, and I miss her terribly, especially today.  I wish she were here to great customers with her usual, "Come on up, I've got a little bit of everything."  She would probably have me dressed up as a monkey or a chicken, but I suppose that would be okay.  We could sit on the steps and play cards and drink Diet Pepsi, and if we didn't have a single customer, it would still be a great day.

*RIP Sara Kathleen (Yancy) Theys*

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Bennett Family Edu-cation

What does a family of nerds do during Spring Break?  They go on an edu-cation.  That's right.  This week Don and I took the kiddos on a nerdly adventure through Atlanta.  We started at The Varsity, feeding trough for all the Georgia Tech geeks.  After feasting on chili dogs and onion rings, we went to Fernbank Museum of Natural History where we got our geek on in an exhibit of mythical creatures.  Later that evening we checked out the Book Nook, a nerd paradise of used books, comic books, and sci-fi collectibles. 

Wednesday we got our hair cut, let the nerdlings go crazy in Toys R' Us, and did some shopping.  We went to R. Thomas for dinner where I discovered the sinus cleansing powers of wasabi.  Ahhhhh...!

Thursday was gorgeous, so we went to the zoo.  I tried to give the boys back to them, but they didn't seem that interested.  Hmmmm...
I geeked out over the pandas.  The new baby panda, Po (his name is Po!) was out on display and I oohed and ahhed and snapped lots of pictures.  I even bought another stuffed panda to add to my collection.  Timothy and I checked out the reptile house.  Super cool.  Paul was more interested in riding the train, which happened to be in repairs.  We all rode the carousel instead.

After the zoo, we indulged our inner food nerds at Harry's in Marietta.  I bought cheese and scones and a huge bottle of olive oil.  I couldn't help buying a big tub of delicious (if not over-priced) mozzarella pasta salad too.  Yum! 

We were all thoroughly tired when we finally got home, but we had a great time.  We ate lots of great food, learned a bit, bought some cool stuff, and relished every nerdy second of our time together.  Like the old saying goes, the family who nerds together...well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Big Bad F-Word

No, not that one.  Failure.  My greatest fear.  I've never had many phobias.  Heights don't bother me.  Crowds don't ruffle me.  I don't mind tiny spaces, or bridges, or snakes.  And unlike my husband, I'm pretty comfortable around clowns.  (Don't judge, it's a common fear.)  But failure?  Yikes.  I'm terrified of it.

I suppose it comes from being a bit of a perfectionist.  I like things done right, and done right the first time.  To fail means that I've done something wrong, and I hate to do something wrong.  It gnaws at me.  It makes me uncomfortable.  I hate that feeling.  So whenever I find myself standing on the threshold of some potentially life-changing decision, there's always that nagging doubt in the back of my mind. 

"What if you mess this up completely?"

Many times I've found myself backing away from the edge of opportunity for fear of mistakes I might make.  A couple of times, I've turned around and completely walked away.  Why?  I've been asking myself that for years.  I know in my heart that every failure is a learning opportunity.  Messing up is not the end of the world.  You get up, dust yourself off, and try again.  Some of my best successes have come from just letting go and jumping in over my head.  But the fear still lingers.

I told myself at the beginning of last month that this would be the Year of No Fear.  I would do all the things that I've always wanted to do without worrying about making mistakes.  I'm not talking about climbing Mt. Everest or anything, but just doing the unexplored things that I know I have a knack for.  I anticipate rejection letters, and I've told myself it's okay.  Everybody gets them, but the successful people don't let them get them down or make them quit. 

I have a choice.  I can live my life in security and look back with regret, or I can embrace the unknown, take some risks, and possibly find even greater happiness.  Am I going to let my life be ruled by fear?  Or am I going to live? 

I choose to LIVE.

*A special thanks to Hilary for the awesome quote this morning.  Rock on, creative chick!*

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dear Stupid People

To the Mother-of-the-Year in Walmart:
If you are bundled up in a heavy coat, your baby probably should be wearing more than a short-sleeved onesie.

To the Joe-Bob who thinks it's perfectly acceptable to display parts of the male anatomy on his truck's trailer hitch:
Insecure, are we?

To the lady reading a stack of legal documents while driving:
Pull over please.  If you die in a horrific car crash before those divorce papers are signed, that lousy, cheating scumbag and his floozy will get ALL of your stuff.

To the Lead-Foot behind me on the road:
Tail-gating me will not make me go faster.  In fact, I'm likely to slow down. 

To Sarah Palin:
Stop. Just stop. Please.

Most Sincerely,

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Thorn

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Paul wrote in the passage above that he suffered from "a thorn in the flesh."  He never said what it was, but there are plenty of theories.  Some say it was a physical ailment.  Others believe it was discouragement.  Some even say that it was a certain person that was a hinderance to Paul's ministry.  Whatever it was, it bothered Paul enough to pray three times for God to remove it.  In verse 9, God tells Paul that he will have to continue dealing with the problem, but that His grace was sufficient to help him bear it.

Now, it's easy to read those scriptures and say, "What?!  God wouldn't heal him?  But it was Paul!  You know, the preacher, missionary, martyr, etc!"  Why wouldn't God heal someone who was so obviously devoted to doing His work?  I can't pretend to know what God's reasons are, but I believe He always has a reason.  God didn't remove Paul's affliction, but He gave him the strength to carry on despite it.

We all deal with stuff.  Sometimes it's physical. We deal with personal sickness, or the sickness of a loved one.  Other times we deal with financial troubles, or problems with family or work or even church.  We go through hard times and think, 'God, where are you?'  I say "we" because I'm right there too.  For me, my biggest difficulty comes in an emotional form.  I struggle with Depression.

It's not just the occassional blahs that everyone gets sometimes.  I have dealt with Clinical Depression for most of my life.  I'm not writing this to gain anyone's pity. This is just my personal struggle.  I have undergone therapy and counseling which have been truly helpful, but I still have times when the dark clouds roll in and I find myself struggling to do everyday tasks.  It's something that never fully goes away.  It's my thorn.

Paul referred to his problem as "the messenger of Satan to buffet me,"  and I think it's an apt description.  I believe in my case that Satan does use it against me.  He finds those moments of weakness, and then puts in a little seed of self-doubt and discouragement.  "You are worthless," he whispers.  "No one really likes you.  They all think you're a loser."  Sometimes he gets really bold and tells me, "If God really cared about you, He wouldn't have made you this way.  You wouldn't have to deal with this."

As ridiculous as those things sound, sometimes I begin to believe them.  Sometimes I allow myself to get so down that I just start wallowing in Satan's lies.  There are times when it just seems easier to give in and let myself sink into self-pity.  I start to question God and His wisdom.  Why would He make someone he supposedly loves go through something like that?  Why do we have to suffer?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

I have found over the years that as low as I sink, it's never too low for God to reach me.  I have reached points where I was ready to give up and end it all.  However, in those darkest moments He held on to me and didn't let me go.  He would speak to me gently and say, "Shhh, it's all right.  I'm still here and I do see you.  I understand how you feel, and I care.  Just keep trusting me to take care of you.  You know I always will."  In those times I have to admit that I do know.  I look back at other times in my life when He was all I had, but all I needed.  He has worked miracles in my life.  He has brought me through some dark days, and He continues to lead me through the rough patches in my life.

I know that I will always deal with Depression, but God constantly reminds me that His grace is sufficient to get me through the battles.  He's not going to let me sink.  He's not going to let me go.  As Paul writes in verse 10, I can have joy in my infirmities and distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.

His grace is sufficient for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Night (or Afternoon) Fever

Something happens to me on Saturday.  On other days I am a mild-mannered wife and mother.  I'm a bookish type who listens to NPR and watches History Channel.  I teach Voice and sing opera.  But not on Saturday.  On Saturday I become a screaming, snarling, crazed fanatic.  Football.

So what's a sci-fi-loving, Italian-art-song-singing, trivia-spouting nerd like me doing watching football?  I blame my dad.  He took me to my first game, a high school game, when I was a kid and I fell in love with football.  I started watching televised games with my dad, and over time learned the ins and outs of the game.  Unfortunately, my dad and I are no longer allowed to watch football together at my parents' house.  My mom seems to think we get too rowdy. 

Now, when I say that I love football I don't mean that I watch with mild interest.  I mean that I watch on the edge of my seat while screaming orders to players, coaches, and refs as if they can hear me.  I don't know what happens to me.  It's like I have some kind of Jekyll and Hyde transformation.  I go from non-confrontational choir girl to rabid, blood-thirsty super fan.  While I normally don't have the heart to smush a spider, on Saturdays I find myself screaming things like, "Crush his skull!" at my teams players.  I cackle with glee when an opposing team's player goes down.  I delight in the tears of grown men after a heartbreaking loss. 

What is it about this game that makes me turn into such a ruthless maniac?  Perhaps it's just the raw violence involved.  I mean, huge grown men are out on the field plowing each other down in order to get a little ball to the opposite end of the field.  They are smashing and crushing and knocking and dragging and pulling and pushing and beating each other senseless. That's not something I would normally be into. I do not advocate violence.  I don't like vicious maulings.

Except on Saturday.  On Saturday vicious maulings are awesome.