Tag Archives: God

Monday’s Prayer

In the absence of Internet, cell phone, or a good book, I have decided to devote the remainder of my workday afternoon to writing a prayer.

Isn’t that shameful, that only when I have nothing else to do, do I turn to sincere and focused communication with my Lord?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for the many blessings in my life.  I’m so glad that You are alive and real, with me all the time.  I sometimes find myself in a faith crisis, wondering “How can I be certain God is real?  I can’t feel Him in the tangible sense.  We’ve never shook hands or hugged.  I don’t have any photos in an album labeled ‘Me and Jesus – Lake Eerie, 1992.'”

I know You, God, are real because I couldn’t have merely imagined my life better during the last seven years, when I began seeking a way to be closer to You.  I still struggle with the Trinity.  I’m perfectly secure with the Holy Ghost concept – I like the voices in my head, offering advice and encouragement throughout the day.  I like talking about and to God – the strong Father figure, director of the universe in whole and each minute part.

I am uncomfortable saying aloud “Jesus is my best friend.”  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I feel like a Froot Loop.  I love – crave – letting You guide my life, both every day and in the grander scheme of things.  I wish I wasn’t so squeamish about being all lovey-dovey about Jesus.  I know He died on the cross to save me from eternal damnation.  I know that there is more, so much more, to this world than just what we see.  I know the Bible is the truth, and we should believe it and strive to live its principles every day.

So, why is my heart shrinking from wholly and openly acknowledging Your son, the ultimate sacrifice and Savior, as my closest and most treasured companion?  I like to think I would refuse to reject Jesus as my savior, even if that meant I would die, perhaps painfully.

But how can I expect to do that if I can’t proclaim Him to my closest mortal friends?

If somebody asked me “What’s the most important thing in your life?”  I wish I could say with 100% certainty that I’d answer, ‘My relationship with Jesus.”

Truthfully, my knee-jerk reaction would probably be “My saddle.”  It’s brand-new, custom-built, has a sweet horn, and has ‘John 3:16’ tooled on the cantle.

It’s a great sentiment, my wanting to witness to all who see my saddle.  But, is it what I truly live?

How much of my time do I waste on worrying about money, health insurance (or lack thereof), magazine deadlines, what people think of my hair/clothes/roping ability/colt starting skills/article ideas/tack/what I eat/what I drive.  What if I took that time and instead devoted it to thinking about Jesus?  Instead of worrying, I could just ponder, just savor in my mind for a moment, the awesomeness of the fact that God actually walked around on the Earth for a few decades, then died painfully so people He’d never met (or had He, if ‘He’ is the entire Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit?) could live forever in a glorious paradise?

I don’t have to strive for answers; I just have to grasp this huge concept in my mind for as long as I can.  That’s difficult enough.

But maybe, if I practice holding onto this seemingly simple yet everlastingly complex concept, other things will gradually become more clear.  I can’t build a structure of knowledge without a rock-solid foundation.  Every rodeo competitor will say “Practice the basics for superior results.”

If I’m doubtful of the veracity of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in my life, maybe I should just spend more time thinking about the Son.  Just thinking.  Just spending minutes that I could choose to spend watching reruns of That ’70s Show, reading The New York Times online, or texting, just resting my mental power on Jesus.

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I’m THAT kind of wild

It has come to my attention that people who read my blog posts might believe I am somewhat “wild.”  In reading back through recent posts, I noticed a few emerging themes, including but not limited to: 1) staying out until early morning, 2) drinking gin, and 3) shooting pool.  I can see how 1+2+3=a wild crazy party girl. 

I stay out until the alarm clark rings because, well, here in Nevada all the casinos and bars are open 24/7.  There is no last call and irritated bartender turning the lights on and asking everyone to clear out.  Plus, my friends are wild and difficult to escape from.

I’d like to say this in defense of my gin consumption: I only drink Tanqueray. 

Last Thursday, I met a girl friend in town to shoot pool.  Some Starr Valley cowboys showed up, so we all had a few adult beverages and played partners.  Christina went home early, so I migrated with the guys to the Silver Dollar.  Another buckaroo joined us, and we headed to The Horseshoe.

We had staked out some barstools and were chatting when the TS crew showed up.  Chase sat down next to me and said, “Jolyn, I thought you were such a nice girl – how did you end up in a strip club?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied, “but you should’ve seen the last girl.  She was way hotter than the one dancing now.”

I reached behind him to grab my cup of water from the bar.  Yes, water – I’m THAT kind of wild.

One Saturday, a girl friend and I met at 4 in the afternoon to chat about the Bible and how we should go about being Christian women.  At the conclusion of our informal lesson, she grabbed a box of Jell-o, a bottle of vodka, made two dozen Jell-o shots, and stuck them in the fridge while we went for a walk.

After our usual 5-mile jaunt, we sat down with spoons to eat our shots.  After 3 apiece, we looked at one another and said, “There’s no alcohol in these!  I feel nothing.  Sheesh.”

After three more, we looked up at each other, spoons paused in mid-bite.  “My head feels huge!  These definitely have booze in them.”

We polished off 18 Jell-o shots, slammed back a couple Washington Apples, ate some rice and tortilla chips, spent an hour changing into town clothes and doing our hair and makeup, and headed for the bar.  We ran into a crowd of our friends (all with nicely shaped cowboy hats, might I add) and enjoyed a drink while visiting.

Still mindful of our desire to live morally, we skipped out of the bar with our friends (they’re wild!  beware!) and headed for the G Bar basement, not at all the usual hangout.  They’d never find us there.

We played a few games of pool, sobered up, and drove home.  I was snuggled into bed when a friend texted me at 12:07 AM asking if I was at Stockmen’s; everyone else was, and the dancing was great.  I said I was showered, teeth brushed, jammie-clad and down for the count. 

In bed by midnight: I’m THAT kind of wild.

Some nights, I’m tipsy by the time I’m done making supper at home.  Other nights, I’m stone-cold sober and dancing until 3:30 AM.  You just can’t know.

I’m THAT kind of wild.

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Souls In Different Bodies

I’ve spent the last three days teaching in my favorite kind of classroom: special education.  I enjoy being around people who were born with developmental “handicaps” or conditions, because God made them that way on purpose.  They have great lessons to teach the rest of humanity.

This high school class had 4 students, and it was so nice to instruct students who spent their class time filling out worksheets and asking politely to get a drink of water, rather than the typical classroom full of students who throw things, tell me the wrong name when I’m taking roll, exit the classroom without permission, and complain about every single assignment I announce. 

I realize different conditions affect people in different ways, and some are very painful or make a person less-than-pleasant company.  My heart really goes out to parents of autistic children; these kids are often super smart, but they look at the teacher with a flat, hard look in their eye and can be just plain rude.  It would be so tough to parent a child who was born without a natural desire to show affection.

But back to this week.  These kids were all so sweet and honest!  I helped the lowest-functioning boy one-on-one with assignments while the others worked on their own.  We played Bingo with facts about Arizona (did you know it is the 48th state and joined the US on February 14, 1912?), and when a square was called I pointed to it on his board, and he put a marker on it.

I noticed this boy would put the marker on a square next to the one I specifically pointed at.  He then looked at me sideways with a mischiveous grin on his face, waiting for me to notice his little trick and exclaim “Hey!  What are you doing?” with a big smile of my own.  His trying to fool me and my being extra vigilant to catch him was more fun than the actual game.

This boy, about 16 or 17 years old, can follow directions and write short sentences with quite a bit of concentration.  He can’t read and understand written English, and he doesn’t speak at all.  He knows one word, “Mom,” which he directs at anyone when he wants to get their attention.  He has this handy dandy little electronic deal that looks like a cell phone with several commonly used phrases on it, and to communicate he pulls it out of his pocket and points to a phrase.  Pretty slick, really.

I was just so taken with how happy this kid was!  Always smiling, and truly delighted over a piece of candy or a basketball.  He strove to make sure the tail of his written y’s, g’s and p’s went sufficiently far below the line on the paper, and proudly pointed out his handiwork to us teachers. 

Such a great dose of perspective.  Another reminder that God created all of us individually and specifically, and that we all have value to add to their world.  It may be a very different kind of value that was is commonly taught by the world (go to college, get a good job, volunteer, recycle your milk jugs, open doors for elderly ladies at the grocery store, and set up a substantial retirement fund), but it is an equally important kind of value.  Under all our human striving, we are all just souls in some kind of body.

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Some Things Just Don’t Really Matter

Last Friday I decided to take a vacation from trying to be noble.  I was fed up with objectively studying myself as a sub, taking feedback from regular teachers, and adjusting my technique only to have a student ask me on Thursday afternoon “Are you going to be here tomorrow?”

“No.”

“Yessssss!”

I sent him to the office, then sent myself to the Star on Friday to practice my drinking skills.  Usually, I’m a one-glass-giggly kind of girl, but Friday I was in a foul mood unimproved by booze.  I kept up with my drinking buddy, only he was drinking beer and I was downing gin.

By 11:30, when the ranch rodeo at Spring Creek got over and that crowd joined us at Stockmen’s, I had a pounding headache.  I was the angry-looking person sitting along the back wall, glaring at the band.  Everyone else was tuned up and feeling good, and I was slightly hungover.

I just can’t handle my liquor.  My dad says it’s genetic; he used to always throw up after a night of drinking.  I’m rarely the drunkest one at the party, but I’m almost always the most hungover.  I mean, throwing up water, violently shaking hungover.  Not attractive.

I knew going into my five o’clock Friday that no good would come of overserving myself.  Since I drank two Mexican coffees and one Irish coffee (it was like multicultural night in Elko) I laid in bed an hour after I hit the sheets, further exhausting myself for Bible study the next morning.  Good decision, only not so much you’d notice.

One thing jumped out and grabbed me by the jugular at Bible study: Ronda quoted Dan Romans (I think) and said “Some things just don’t really matter.”  Meaning, we put too much thought into and emphasis on some decisions, happenings, etc. that are kind of a wash in the grander scheme of things.

What a relief!  I DON’T have to be Supewoman, Best Sub Ever, Most Likely To Brighten Everyone’s Day Simply By Appearing In It, or Writer Of The Year No Make That Century.

It’s ok to have a bad day, week, whatever.  I can obsess over making sure God specifically told me to work there, date him, don’t date him, never ever have a sip of alcohol, write that story, buy that pickup, move to that state, go to that rodeo, order my steak medium rare, or wear jeans instead of khakis.

It doesn’t really matter!

Since God’s in control anyway, it’s impossible for me to mess up my life.  He knew what I was going to do before I did it.

This raises the question of what, then, is the point of life?  What does it mean to be human?

I will definitely give this some thought.  But, in the short run, it sure is nice to not be inordinately angry at the world anymore.  Whew!  No more binge drinking.  No girl looks pretty with a pickled liver.

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God Before Money

At the last minute, I decided to attend the monthly Independence Valley ladies’ Bible study.  For some reason, that name always gets the song “Harper Valley PTA” stuck in my head.  Hmmm.  Strange.

I wasn’t going to go to the study; I planned on working all day at Capriola’s.  I told myself I was too broke to pass up the paycheck.

Ronda called me Friday night to see if I was going to the study.  I said no then changed my mind right after I hung up the phone.  I realized I will always be broke to some degree or another.  Right now I have vehicle registration, a pickup repair bill, rent, a doctor’s bill, etc., and in the future I will have to pay more vehicle repairs, cell phone bills, doctor’s visits, etc. 

I will always have some expense making a grab for my wallet when I’m not looking.  The decision to put my Lord before my money is always there.  I just have to make it. 

I’d subbed every day last week, so I wasn’t haphazardly saying, “Money?  Who needs it?!”  I took time to care of fiscal business.  I needed to take care of spiritual business.

The study was wonderful!  Lunch was a potluck, but we ate before we opened our Bibles because “the kids were hungry.”  The under-eight crowd sat on the floor by the heater and colored while we grown-ups discussed Christ’s Second Coming, woman’s place in the church, how it is way cooler to be made from a rib than a lump of clay, and how to stay positive in depressing circumstances. 

I left Ronda’s house feeling much richer than if I’d worked for Nevada minimum wage all day.  Fellowship strengthens our souls, our relationship with God, and replenishes us so we can share the goodness of Christ with others.  Plus, I got a recipe for my favorite no-bake peanut-butter-and-corn-flake cookies 🙂 

John 8:32

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Independence Valley BS

I went to one of my favorite events in Nevada today – the Independence Valley ladies’ Bible study.  It’s held every month at a different house, and today we met at the Quarter Circle S on the Van Norman Ranch.  We studied God’s Word, had a baby shower for the lovely Heather, and Chrissy suggested we celebrate she and her husband’s fiftieth move in twenty years (he’s a cowboy).  It was suggested they take no more camp jobs.

There was no danger of a cell phone’s ring interrupting our fellowship, as there is no cell service at the Quarter Circle S.  The driveway was just this side of four-wheel-drive status, so no one complained.  It goes without saying that all the food was made from scratch; you don’t bring Oreos and Raley’s apple pie to a get-together in the Independence Valley. 

Groups like this are rare.  It seems we don’t get enough actual face time with our fellow humans; it’s too convenient to Facebook, blog or text rather than sit on each others’ couches and discuss our lives.  We need to discuss our lives!  There were three pregnant ladies and a whole pack of little kids runnin’ around Bible study.  What better place for a woman to learn how to be a woman who positively contributes to society than by asking and observing others she looks up to? 

I really enjoy not having cell service.  Removing the temptation to check our phones all the time to see what we might be missing elsewhere forces us to fully emerse ourselves and absorb the company we are in at the moment.

I realize I’m going to need to look for a place to stash my soap box here in a minute, but I just thoroughly enjoyed a good old-fashioned dose of wholesome fellowship.  It’s so convenient and socially acceptable for people, especially single twenty-four-year-olds such as myself, to go to the bar and toss a few back, leave with whomever, get sick in the morning, and drag ourselves to work.  It’s reassuring to know some folks still value morals and actively seek godly lives.  And, these gals wear flattering jeans, trendy shirts, dangly earrings, and fix their hair all cute.  Just because you’re wholesome and upright doesn’t mean you’re a stick in the mud.

I’m looking forward to the next study, and not just because I’m not leading it.  I had my notes all prepared for today’s topic, the power of words, and didn’t feel nervous, but for some reason, when I began to talk, I began to sweat profusely.  I had to get a tissue to mop up my face and neck.  It was quite embarrassing and of course made me even more flustered.  Anyway, everyone contributed plenty of discussion so that helped 🙂  I didn’t have to deliver my message all by myself.

Thanks for reading! 

Keep the faith.

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God Is Everywhere

When I was little, I frequently went to church with our neighbors.  During sleepovers, Mary Ann Fitzgerald would gather us kids on the bed before lights-out and we’d recite, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  I’m pretty sure I’ve always been saved, but I really started pursuing the Lord like He was something that needed to be roped in a hurry before He got away when I was 17.

I’d fallen into the painful habit of relieving stress by making myself throw up, slicing my skin with a straight razor, and I came as close to a suicide attempt as a handful of pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other.  I saw happy, smiling Christians and decided I wanted what they had.  So, I found a church, warm-hearted church-goers found me, and they inspired me to look for God.

God is everywhere.  He was there all along, only I was not in the habit of looking at Him.  The beauty of Christianity is that a person can pray – converse with the Lord – whether they’re kneeling at mass; in a bikini on St. Augustine Beach, Florida; riding a bridle horse through the Independence Valley, Nevada; driving down I-5 near Stockton, California; or sitting on their couch in front of a fireplace. 

Reading the Bible is a great tool for learning about God’s character, His history with humanity, and His plan for us.  But, plenty of people worldwide, who either don’t have access to Bibles, can’t read, or live in countries where Christianity is illegal, have had tremendous experiences with God.  That’s because God isn’t just in a book….He’s everywhere!

The purpose of my life is to show God to people.  That superceeds my horsemanship, my cowboying, my writing, my dating life, my college education, the whole works.  All those things are just tools for God to teach me more about Himself.  For others, He might use dentistry, world travel, singing abilities, city life, or being born a different nationality/gender/body type/hair color/time period, etc.  My own unique combination of gen0- and phenotype traits is just the way God made me.  And He made you, too, because….He’s everywhere!

I hope that whomever you are, wherever you are, you look for God today.  If you’re already a Christian, do it full-force all day long!  If you’re a beginning Christian, try to find the good in an unpleasant situation.  Think of it as a good mental challenge, if nothing else.  If you’re a not-too-sure Christian, try it for thirty seconds when no one’s looking.  I guarantee you Someone is looking and smiling down at you for your efforts 🙂

Thank you for your time!  Have a lovely day and more to come tomorrow.

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