What Does Good Friday Mean To You?

I’m going to warn you in advance. This is not my usual post. This is more reflective of the holiday we are entering into, so I’m well aware that it won’t be for everyone.

I suspect, even if you aren’t a very “religious” person, that if you ever did the “going to church” thing in your life this particular season brings out the reflectiveness in you. Yes, there’s the secular world of Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts and more candy than any dentist is comfortable seeing, but for those of us who’ve either been raised in the church or spent some time going, we know the deeper meanings in this holiday.

Last night I performed for the first time in a Maundy Thursday service. Some know this service better by Holy Thursday or Covenant Thursday. Basically, it’s the day of The Last Supper of Christ, spent with his disciples. Although we did a few songs, it was the Negro Spiritual “Were You There” performed with a friend, Acapella in the dark that was the most personally moving. The darkness was symbolic of His death and burial. For those of you who haven’t heard the song before, here’s a lovely version. In fact, if you close your eyes and just listen, it will touch you.

Anyway, as I listened to the scripture readings last night, I found myself reflecting on the disciples, Peter in particular. I found it ironic that Peter was the one who came to Jesus asking about how often he should have to forgive. Peter thought forgiving someone 7 times was a lot back then, and Hebrew law would’ve agreed with him. That was generous! Jesus, however, told him 70 x 7…which back then translated to infinite.

As I thought about his conversation with Jesus that Thursday night when he said (and I believe he meant it) that he would never deny Him, I imagined how devastated he was on that Friday when the rooster crowed. There was no question Peter loved Jesus, but in that moment his fear overwhelmed him. On that day, when his faith was put to the test, he denied Jesus and their relationship.

I wonder if he had nightmares after that, of having denied Jesus for the third time only to hear the rooster crow, remember Jesus’ words and meeting Jesus’ eyes. I imagine the look in Jesus’ eyes was a blend of compassion, forgiveness and hurt. Then I started thinking about my own life.

There was a young girl who I considered to be one of my closest friends back in 5th grade. One day in Science class, while sitting at my lab table with my 3 other partners, she walked by my table. Just as she was passing, her arm shot out and punched me hard in the stomach. My three lab partners were outraged. They wanted to report her to the teacher. I stopped them.

“Why?” one of the boys asked. “She hit you. That’s not right.”

I shrugged. “Don’t. She’s hurting. She just found out her parents are getting divorced.”

“So that makes it okay to hurt you?” the other one asked.

“No,” I answered. “It’s not. But it was easier for her to hurt me than to hurt her parents the way that she feels they’re hurting her.”

Before you think I’m telling you this story to make myself out to be some sort of saint, don’t worry. I’m not egomaniacal. The truth is she hurt my feelings. She betrayed my trust and we were never friends again. I was also fairly young and innocent back then.

As I got older I learned to be less forgiving. More quick to react in kind. More likely to live out the “eye for an eye” concepts. In fact, my inability to forgive nearly cost me a valued friendship just recently. Sadly, the only crime my friend committed was being related to someone who’d hurt me. I should have been able to let it go, but I didn’t. And I talked about it. And talked about it. And talked about it. To her!

She was beyond patient with me, but the time came where she had finally had it. She snapped and said something. Someone innocent paying for the actions of another. Not at all cool. It stopped me in my tracks and made me think. It took months before she was finally ready to talk to me again. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she never did. I was insensitive, thoughtless and hurtful.

Two very different stories, aren’t they? It’s no wonder Jesus said we need to have hearts like children. Time and experience have a way of coloring our perspectives. So I think back to Peter with a better understanding of how humbling it must have been to realize just how much he now needed the forgiveness from his Master. Forgiving the unforgiveable. I bet he thought back to that day when he asked Jesus about it, grateful now, about his answer, realizing just how undeserving he was of that gift in that moment.

More importantly, it made me realize just how hurt Jesus probably was in the moment that Peter denied him, though he knew it was coming. His best friend, denying he even knew him at the biggest trial of his life. Personally, I’m grateful for his forgiving heart and for his sacrifice. Without it, this world would be a hopeless place.

So my question to you guys… What does this holiday mean to you? Do you celebrate Good Friday? There is no judging here. Please don’t misunderstand. These are simply my personal beliefs and not meant to reflect anyone else’s.

Here’s a song that I feel reflects exactly why God is so good.

Alternative Explanation For The Immaculate Conception?

Happy New Year Everyone! First, I hope that this year brings you many successes, much joy and keeps you and your families healthy and happy.

Now as you guys are well aware, sometimes my blog takes on a very conversational tone. I enjoy talking to you guys, telling you stories…going back and forth on random topics. Because of that I want to share with you guys what happened last night.

My wonderfully awesome and supportive sister and her equally cool husband weren’t able to fly into town for Christmas this year, so they flew into town yesterday instead. Our plans were to have a mostly mellow, relaxing night with a few friends. I’d invited my best girl friend and her husband as well as my best guy friend and his boyfriend. Hubby and I decided that we would do a fondue and board game party! I had my electric fondue pot that I’d received several years ago and had added a chocolate/cheese fountain to my growing collection of kitchen fun this Christmas. We were looking forward to trying it out. My bestie brought her fondue set, too. This meant we could have 1 for cheese, 1 for broth (meats & potatoes) and 1 for chocolate (my brand new fountain).

As we’re setting up, hubby turns to my sister and the following conversation ensues:

Hubby: Sissy, it’s too bad you weren’t here for Christmas. You missed the flying singing lady at your sister’s church.

Sis: I heard!

Hubby: You could’ve sat beside me and enjoyed the show.

Sis: No, I wouldn’t have. I would’ve gotten drafted to sing.

Hubby: Not if you didn’t want to!

Sis: I’ve sung with them before.

Hubby: Oh, yeah…you would’ve. Oh well. So did your sister tell you the other story?

Sis: What story?

Hubby: The fact that she almost lost it in church that night because she’s got a dirty mind?

Sis: No….

Hubby: It was bad.

(At this point I interrupt to defend myself)

Me: Hey! I managed to keep it together.

Sis: What happened?

Me: Well, one of the older ladies was reading the scriptures leading up to Christ’s birth and she made a teeny tiny mistake…

Hubby: (snickering) It really was just one or maybe two words off!

Sis: (looking from me to hubby as we try to choke back our laughter) So what did she say?

Me: Well, she was reading the part where “an angel of the Lord appeared to Mary”

Sis: Yeah?

Me: Well, she got to the part about the Holy Spirit….(rolling on laughter and unable to continue)

Hubby: (watches me and shakes his head) Yeah…the lady is being so serious reading the scripture, your sister is up at the front of the church facing all the guests when the lady says “The Holy Spirit came on her.”

Me: (crying with laughter all over again) It probably was supposed to be came into…no those all sound bad, too. Oh…I think it was supposed to be came unto. Either way…that’s not what she said. And I couldn’t help it!

Sis: (chokes back her own laughter) Oh, God!

Hubby: Yeah…it was bad. I’m sitting in the pew looking up front and your sister gets this look in her eye and I had to look away or start cracking up myself. I started reciting sport stats in my head and looking at my feet.

Me: Hey! I didn’t actually laugh…and I was able to school my face pretty well.

Hubby: That’s true, but if people really know you…they’d have seen how hard you were laughing on the inside.

Sis: Thank GOD I wasn’t there…one look at her face and I would’ve lost it and had to walk out of church in the middle of the service.

Me: Well, guys…if you think about it…it explains so much!

Sis: What do you mean?

Me: “The Holy Ghost came on her.” (nods) Totally explains the Immaculate Conception

They both start rolling with laughter…

Hubby: (looking at me and shaking his head) You are not right.

Sis: You totally need to blog this story.

I can’t be the only person who hears accidentally dirty things at the most inappropriate places or inopportune times. Please help me not feel like I’m going to hell for finding this hilarious. Tell me some of YOUR stories! The difference one word can make….

Bad Gone Good

Have you ever had one of those Days/Weeks/Months/Years where if you put everything that happened on paper it would look like the worst year ever? As is common this close to the beginning of the New Year, I began to reflect. I’ve had two years that were truly bad…I lost a sibling in each of those years. Oddly enough, this year…on paper…should probably have been a runner up.

Here’s how this year has looked for me:

  • Short staffed & forced to work 6 day work weeks and at least 2-3 double shifts per week for 3 months
  • Husband diagnosed with appendicitis and rushed by ambulance for an emergency appendectomy (appendix was necrotic)
  • Less than month later husband has second surgery for inguinal hernia repair
  • 6 weeks later hubby has the worst surgery (both for him and me)…a pilonidal cyst surgery
  • Through all this I had an employee constantly making trouble, making excuses for her behavior and calling HR on every perceived slight (mostly imaginary).
  • On the 4th of July, I got fired for the first time in my life.
  • 2 days before my health benefits run out, hubby breaks his hand playing softball
  • Hubby’s favorite uncle becomes very ill very quickly. (They were talking hospice before they even gave the true diagnosis)
  • Hubby goes to Chicago to visit family for a few days (I had tried to get the time approved when I was working, but had been denied and a week before I lost my job he booked the plane ticket…Joke was on us…)
  • Hubby’s uncle dies a week and a half after hubby came back home.
  • A close friend was diagnosed with cancer.
  • My brother-in-law lost his grandmother.
  • Another family member was diagnosed with cancer
  • Yet another family member lost a toe due to some medical things.

Oddly enough, even through all of this, I feel thankful! I was worried sick about hubby with all his surgeries…but I was grateful that they all happened when I still had insurance. Even his broken hand happened within that timeframe. In fact, two of the three surgeries happened when my mom was in town. She dropped everything to rush to the hospital and be by our sides, keeping me company while I waited.

I lost my job…that should’ve sucked. Oddly enough, I wasn’t upset. I have a very solid skill set in a couple of career fields. Even more than that…everyone on my staff with the exception of my troublemaker called me or gave me a hug on my way out the door. They still keep in touch and let me know how much they enjoyed working with me and that they miss me.

The other thing about losing my job…my sister pointed out…my work/life balance sucked while I was there. On my wedding day (which was out of state) I got a call needing help. During the time my assistants were out, little to no help was given unless I pushed for it… I’m sure you’re getting by now that the little I’ve shared is just the tip of the iceberg with how much my life and time was monopolized.

Working there was also a big part of what caused me to stop writing…to rarely be able to attend church…to be unable to sing except around work and at home. Upon losing my job both my sister and my best friend called to tell me that they always felt I should’ve been writing anyway. They were right!

So, this year I’ve also become a member of the Florida Writer’s Association getting my feet back into the writing universe…and becoming active in my local chapter. I also just finished writing my first manuscript and am currently working on editing it…Cross your fingers! I also joined WordPress and found all you wonderful people! You guys have encouraged me, taught me, inspired me and enriched my life.

As for my singing…the day after I lost my job, my pastor called just to check on me. When I told him what had happened, he was empathetic…keeping me in his prayers. But he challenged me, too. He let me know that choir practice was the following day and that now that I had no plans I would probably enjoy checking it out. He pointed out that nothing makes the heart feel lighter than “making a joyful noise.” He was right! Since that day I have been a part of the praise team for the church, singing every Sunday. I think God was sending me a message through him. 🙂

Hubby’s uncle becoming ill…that really sucked. It was sad…and tragic. But the upside is that my husband got to go there…and spend time with him every day of his vacation, giving him a chance to say goodbye. That may not have been quite so readily possible if I’d been with him. They may have felt obligated to entertain me. The unfortunate thing was that he wasn’t able to go to the funeral when he died…but his uncle knew he loved him and that he was there to say goodbye.

As for the rest…it’s in God’s hands. My friend is battling, and I couldn’t be more proud. My family has a firm foundation in love, support and faith. So although on the surface, this year should probably look like it was awful…It wasn’t! I’ve found some very wonderful things to celebrate to go with some of those losses!

The thing I’ve learned? You can’t always control the things that happen to you, but you can control your response…and you can look for the blessings or you can focus on the bad. I choose to see the good and be thankful.

Theatrics, Drama and Karma

The Filipinos have a word…Maarte. It’s pronounced ma-artay.

If you look online you’ll find a bunch of interpretations for this word. Some say exclusively applies to women…some claim it’s in reference to women who are overly flirtatious (and yes, there IS such a thing). Personally, the way it’s always been used when I was growing up was to describe someone who was overly dramatic. Maybe overacting. In otherwords…an attention whore.

Why am I bringing this up? Good question. My answer may get me labeled as judgmental or overly critical…but I’m going to say it anyway. First, there’s something ya’ll should know about me. There are very few subjects I won’t discuss and I don’t really have that many pet peeves… But I do have them.

My first? I HATE tardiness. This stems from my mom and my childhood. As you guys know, I absolutely adore my mom…but she has one MAJOR flaw. She runs on Filipino time. (I know that people from Jamaica and the Bahamas have referred to this sort of phenomena as “island time”.) This basically means that if she tells you dinner will be served at 6, plan on eating at 7 or 8. We, as her children, have learned to tell her that events start an hour or so earlier than they actually do in order to guarantee timeliness. (I could tell you a bunch of stories about this…including how this habit of hers helped me to develop an eye twitch, but that’s for another time.)

My second pet peeve are people who do inappropriate things or things at inappropriate times in order to get attention. Yep, you’ve got it…I have an issue with people who are Maarte. I like to save my drama for the books I read or maybe watching a musical or play…rarely in the real world…and rarely for people over the age of 16.

It actually happened this year at our Christmas service. The lady who leads our singing is a very nice person. Yeah, she has her hyper moments, but so do I. Anyway, Sunday was the first time I’d ever heard her do a solo…and she sang “Mary Did You Know?” She has a lovely voice…in fact, it kind of reminds me of my mom. I also love this song…and I mean LOVE! Now in church, when you’re singing, it’s all for the glory of God. That’s how I was taught. So imagine my surprise when arms started flying outward and flailing the way you’ve seen performers at concerts do…except MORE…

I blinked. I wasn’t expecting that… I figured maybe I was overreacting and being a tad critical. Then came our Christmas eve service. On that night she sang 2 solos. The first one fell during a rare break in the group performance that let me sit next to hubby. As we were sitting there she stepped forward to sing “O Holy Night!”. She was accompanied by beautiful acoustic guitar. When the time for her to start singing began…the arm flailing began…

Still, I tried to shrug it off, fearful I was the one being critical…until hubby leaned over and whispered one of the very few Tagalog words he’s learned over the years…”She’s very maarte, isn’t she?”

I glanced his way and said…”Oh, good. It’s not just me.”

With a little smile he watched as she walked up the aisle, looking at some of our parishioners, hands dramatically pointing down as the words, “FALL ON YOUR KNEES” rang out of her mouth.

“No, Love, it’s not just you.”

At the end of her second solo…where she turned and started singing to the cross…she ended the song by saying, “Amen, Jesus!”

I guess that was her way of paying tribute to HIM.

I’d never seen anything like it….and I’ve got to admit…having hubby say what I was thinking in Tagalog gave me a big kick.

For those of you who don’t sing…or who’ve never sung…I’m going to dispel a myth. Hand waving and dramatic gestures of that general sort have absolutely nothing to do with the ability and quality of the sounds you create when singing. Now there are times where you may want to bring on a stronger punch to your tone…or a more powerful gesture in your voice…and because of that you will find your body responding in kind…maybe a fist to remind you to give it oomph. But it’s not really necessary…because the power for your voice…and sustaining notes…comes from your diaphragm and the way you open your mouth.

The second dramatic instance actually happened here. I don’t know the truth. I don’t have all the facts, nor do I care to…but someone who seemed to need a friend came on here and created an elaborate fictional life. Hey, what you want to do with your blog is YOUR business. If you want to write under a pen name…go for it! If you’re writing a story…go ahead! I enjoy reading well written stories. I love creative people! But don’t go reaching out to people with your made up sob story…and then drag a bunch of other people into your world of fiction. Real life is complicated enough. (In other words, it’s not cool to tell people you have cancer when you don’t…or any other life threatening issues… It’s disrespectful to the people who are truly dealing with these issues…and karma’s a B.)

So now you know my two biggest pet peeves….and maybe you learned a new word! What are your big hot buttons? I’d love to know so I can avoid hitting them… 🙂 Hope you all had a Very Merry Christmas… If Santa was good to you, I’d love to hear about that, too!